Cutting-edge,well-funded, flourishing – quick, what’s the first industry that comes to mind?
No, it’s not the tech sector –it’s Singapore’s health and biomedical sciences, whose current boom is only set to grow in the next few years.
If you’ve ever considered a career in biomedical science, there’s no better time like the present to pursue your biomed degree. Though this industry might seem pretty low-profile, in truth it’s been buzzing with lots of exciting developments over the last few years. Here’s a quick look at why the future looks promising for those with health and biomed training.
1) Incredible jobs
Never has Singapore’s biomed job market been more rosy and diverse. With over 50 manufacturing plants, more than 19, 000 employees, and a value add of S$15 billion, Singapore’s biomedical science sector has definitely become an economic powerhouse – coming second only to electronics!
This vibrant ecosystem is creating more and more opportunities for budding researchers, whether you want to work in the public sector or prefer multinational corporations. Just two years ago, for example, pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline set up its global headquarters for Asia in Singapore, with capacity for up to 1,000 employees.
And if you dream of being your own boss, there’s no reason why you can’t think about launching your very own biomed startup.Since 2010, more than 48 drug-development and related biotechs have been incorporated, proving that there’s a thriving support system already in place. In fact, our homegrown biotech companies are finding global success –this July, for example, Singapore’s Aslan Pharmaceuticals raised a whopping US$33 million through its IPO on the Taipei exchange.
2) Great undergrad options
Now that good talent is more in demand than ever, you’re no longer limited to the same few options for biomedical science programmes. One of Singapore’s leading private institutions, PSB Academy, recently introduced a tie-up with La Trobe University, Australia’s joint best university in Biological Sciences as ranked by Excellence in Research for Australia 2015.
The pioneer batch of students from this collaboration in Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences, Bachelor of Science (Pharmaceutical Science), and Bachelor of Science (Molecular Biology) graduated just last year, and are all set to make a splash in the workforce. One graduate from the Biomedical Science programme, Aaron Heng, says confidently, “I believe that the practical techniques I have honed in the lab during this course would no doubt continue to serve me well.”
3) Exciting postgrad opportunities
If you’d like to do further studies, more exciting postgrad programmes are also springing up. Just this July, the National University of Singapore (NUS) launched new additive manufacturing facilities for biomedical technology, the Centre for Additive Technology. It has announced plans to run AM-related courses for postgrad students.
Additive manufacturing or AM, in case you were wondering, refers to building 3D objects by ‘adding’ layers of material. If you’re fascinated by the magic of 3D printing (and who isn’t?), there’s plenty of chance for you to become a biomed specialist in this niche.
4) Tons of funding
Even if you’re still just contemplating a biomed degree, it’s great to think ahead about the state of funding in your industry. A well-funded industry guarantees you the career support you need, whether it’s exploring your research interests or getting to use the best technology. And good news: the biomedical sciences is one of the best-funded sectors out there.
In 2016, the government announced its plan to pump a record S$19 billion into science and tech research over the next five years. Though this funding is split between key verticals like Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering, Health and Biomedical Sciences gets by far the lion’s share – $4 billion, or 21%! This princely sum is intended to fund great research ideas, nurture enterprises, and provide career opportunities for Singaporeans.
5) Meaningful career
We all love feeling that our work has meaning. Though all careers are fulfilling in their own way, health and biomedical sciences might just be the place where you find your true calling developing new drugs or creating surgical techniques to help others.
Jerald Tan, a graduate in the Bachelor in Biomedical Science offered by La Trobe at PSB Academy, can attest to this. Since young, Jerald always dreamt of working in the scientific field as a nutritionist or cancer researcher.
This passionate researcher is currently fulfilling his childhood dreams as the Business Development Associate and Project Manager of biomed startup MulSET. With MulSET, he has worked to create innovative products such as the portable microscope, aiding education and environmental research studies in less developed countries. His strong biology background has provided a stepping stone for his ability to make meaningful scientific contributions today.
With such incredible growth over the last few years, biomedical science is definitely a hot sector to watch. If biomed sounds like your ideal career, striking while the iron’s hot is a wise move. With a biomedical sciences degree, you, too, can help blaze a trail in this relatively young industry.