5 things you probably didn’t know about Singapore’s Biomedical Sciences industry

By Brian TAN (Contact Singapore Area Director, India)


When I ask people what industries Singapore is known for, the two most common answers I get are the Banking and Finance industry and the Tourism industry. While it is true that these industries contribute a fair share of Singapore’s GDP, the country is also home to a vibrant Biomedical Sciences (BMS) industry. Biomedical Sciences here refers to Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology sectors and includes research and development (R&D) as well as manufacturing activities. Here are 5 things you probably didn’t know about the BMS industry in Singapore:

1) The BMS industry accounts for around five per cent of Singapore’s GDP. In 2013, it contributed 8.2% or around S$23.8 billion to the total output in the Manufacturing sector. Singapore was also the third fastest growing nation globally in the export of pharmaceutical goods from 2000 to 2010. Singapore has committed S$16.1 billion in continued support of research, innovation and enterprise activities between 2011 and 2015.

2) More than 30 of the world’s leading companies, including Amgen, Baxter, GSK, Lonza, Novartis, and Takeda, conduct research and development, and manufacturing activities in Singapore. A few of them have established their regional HQ here, while some have set up multi-purpose plants with the capability to manufacture a wide range of active pharmaceutical ingredients, biologics and nutritionals. Amgen and Lonza recently opened new manufacturing facilities, adding their number to the 50 manufacturing plants and R&D centres already in Singapore.

3) The BMS companies are largely located at two futuristic-looking locations – Biopolis and the Tuas Biomedical Park. The Biopolis is a state-of-the-art infrastructure for the life sciences which co-locates public sector research institutes with corporate labs to foster a collaborative culture among the institutions and organisations under its roof.  The Tuas Biomedical Park is a 360-hectare stretch of ready-prepared and specifically-zoned land set aside for pharmaceutical and biologics manufacturing.

4) The BMS industry is supported by over 17,300 professionals. Around 4,300 of them are researchers in both private and public organisations, reflecting a strong emphasis on R&D, while the rest of the professionals work in the manufacturing side of the industry. Manufacturing roles command salaries ranging from S$3,500 for more junior engineering positions (around three years of working experience) to S$16,000 a month for a Director of Engineering (more than 10 years of working experience). Currently, biologics manufacturing professionals, QA/QC professionals, production engineers, and process engineers are in demand in Singapore.

5) There is an online Self-Assessment Tool for professionals interested in working in Singapore. This tool provides a preliminary indication of whether you are eligible for an Employment Pass. As a job seeker, you would need to first secure a job with the company before the company (or its approved agency) applies the Employment Pass for you (note the emphasis). It takes seven working days to process an Employment Pass by the Ministry of Manpower thereafter.

If all this has piqued your interest in working in Singapore’s BMS sector, feel free to browse our job portal at www.contactsingapore.sg/jobs to explore the job opportunities currently available.  Do visit our website (www.contactsingapore.sg) or the Singapore Economic Development Board’s website (www.edb.gov.sg) to find out more about working and living in Singapore.


(This article is also posted on my LinkedIn account)