The resulting health science innovations will control chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer in Singapore and beyond.

Advances in artificial intelligence, big data and genomics are expected to step up the development of life-changing biomedical science, and three healthcare agencies in Singapore have inked a partnership today, 13 Feb, with Swiss-British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca to realize this goal.

Building on the Singapore government initiatives such as the National AI Strategy and the Healthcare Industry Transformation Map, the partnership is expected to speed up the deployment of digital healthcare technology, accelerate scientific talent and skills development, and put Singapore on the map as a global hub for cutting-edge health science innovation.

Said Swedish Ambassador to Singapore, H.E. Mr. Niclas Kvarnström: “In Sweden, we have a long tradition of close collaboration between government, academia and industry for innovation that delivers tangible benefits where it matters most: to people’s lives. I am proud that AstraZeneca, which has been a cornerstone of Swedish healthcare innovation for decades, and its Singapore partners, (will) bring this vision into practice by applying their world-class expertise to improve the lives of people.”

Added H.E. Mrs. Kara Owen, British High Commissioner to Singapore: “The UK has a world-class health and life sciences ecosystem that puts it at the forefront of digital health and medical technology breakthroughs. Our strong public-private ethos continues to drive the next generation of life-changing treatments, cutting-edge technologies and customer-first services—not just in the UK but worldwide. This collaboration between British-Swedish AstraZeneca, (AI startup), the SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre (AMC)and A*STAR is one brilliant example of the many forward-looking and innovative collaborations between the UK and Singapore.”

Achieving better health through innovation

The key objective of such collaborations is to help Singaporeans, and by extension the rest of the world, to  enjoy good health and quality healthcare, by using technology to identify risk factors for disease prevention, enable earlier diagnosis, and to improve the treatment and management of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

  • With, AstraZeneca will work to accelerate the development and deployment of AI-technology that speeds up the diagnosis of heart disease. The startup is supported by A*STAR’s commercialization arm A*ccelerate, and their technology can automate the analysis of echocardiograms to make diagnoses faster and more accessible to patients. This can help the 600,000 Singaporeans living with diabetes, for whom heart disease is the most frequent and fatal complication. Heart failure is one of the leading causes of hospitalization.
  • With A*STAR, AstraZeneca will work to advance Singapore’s research capabilities in genomics and precision medicine. Combining AstraZeneca’s bioinformatics and genomics expertise with Asia’s largest genetic databank—spearheaded by the A*STAR Genome Institute of Singapore—this partnership will help develop a better understanding of Asian genomics to inform potential new disease prevention strategies and drug targets to treat ailments of particular burden to the Asian population.
  • With the SingHealth Duke-NUS AMC, AstraZeneca will be exploring collaboration on the acceleration of open innovation, real-world evidence generation, and development of new health technologies to enhance patient-centric care and improve care outcomes.

Professor Thomas Coffman, Dean of Duke-NUS Medical School, said: “We look forward to the partnership with AstraZeneca and help deliver lasting benefits to communities in Singapore, with a focus on diseases that are prevalent here and across the region, such as cardiovascular, kidney and metabolic diseases, as well as cancers that are common within the Asian population.”

Professor Wong Tien Yin, Deputy Group CEO (Research and Education), SingHealth, and Vice Dean, Office of Academic & Clinical Development, Duke-NUS, said:“Public-private sector partnerships between the healthcare sector and biomedical industry are crucial to bring research from bench to bedside. For example, the use of data analytics and real-world evidence generation will enable us to predict disease risk and therapeutic outcomes so that we can institute timely clinical intervention and tailor treatment plans for patients.”

Through these strategic partnerships, economic opportunities can be co-created to support Singapore’s digital economy. This includes accelerating the development of new healthcare technology, growing talent and upskilling the workforce, and helping to fuel the growth of the biomedical industry. Specifically, research expertise built through the work with A*STAR and the SingHealth Duke-NUS AMC will inject new expertise into the biomedical community through opportunities for local and overseas training on genetic counselling.