“Fund­ing is big­gest chal­lenge for any start-up in Asia”

BioSpectrum (Asia) - - Bio Content - Aishwarya Venkatesh aishwarya.venkatesh@mmac­tiv.com

Based in Sin­ga­pore, Nova Sa­tra Dx is a molec­u­lar di­ag­nos­tics com­pany. Led by an im­pres­sive man­age­ment team, this start-up has raised over $2 mil­lion from in­sti­tu­tional in­vestors to­wards a game-chang­ing blood test they’ve de­vel­oped, ca­pa­ble of pro­vid­ing non in­va­sive, con­ve­nient and ac­cu­rate de­tec­tion of cancer based on Asian-spe­cific epi­ge­netic biomark­ers. It is de­vel­op­ing a pipe­line of tests based on val­i­dated tech­nol­ogy, the NovoTect tech­nol­ogy, to ad­dress un­met med­i­cal needs in cancer di­ag­no­sis. Nova Sa­tra’s de­vel­op­ment pipe­line in­cludes molec­u­lar di­ag­nos­tics tests for breast, colon, lung, prostate and stom­ach can­cers. The com­pany’s first test, NovoTect Bc for the di­ag­no­sis of breast cancer, is the first ever test that strat­i­fies Asian pa­tients re­gard­less of sub-type and stage of breast cancer with high speci­ficity and sen­si­tiv­ity. Nova Sa­tra has com­pleted val­i­da­tion tri­als for NovoTect Bc in col­lab­o­ra­tion with top med­i­cal in­sti­tu­tions in Sin­ga­pore and Malaysia, and is fi­nal­is­ing plans to launch the test through­out Asia Pa­cific. In an in­ter­ac­tion with BioSpec­trum Asia, Kane Black, CEO, Nova Sa­tra, high­lights trends, op­por­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges in Asia’s medtech and di­ag­nos­tics start-up land­scape.

What dif­fer­ence NovoTect tech­nol­ogy can cre­ate in med­i­cal in­dus­try?

NovoTect Bc seeks to ad­dress the bur­den of missed di­ag­no­sis of breast cancer in Asian women. Data from the In­ter­na­tional Re­search Agency on Cancer show that breast cancer is the lead­ing form of cancer amongst women in Asia and 400,000 of the 1.7 mil­lion cases di­ag­nosed an­nu­ally oc­cur in Asian women. The Na­tional Cancer In­sti­tute in the United States es­ti­mates 20% of breast can­cers are missed us­ing mam­mog­ra­phy, usu­ally re­sult of dense breast tis­sue. Dense breast tis­sue is twice as preva­lent in women of Asian de­scent, adding to this is the stub­bornly low breast cancer screen­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion rates across Asia.

What are the chal­lenges you faced in set­ting up business in Asia?

Of­ten the great­est chal­lenge of any start-up, once an idea or prod­uct is prop­erly de­vel­oped, con­cep­tu­alised and val­i­dated, is fund­ing. Be­ing in the medtech space and de­vel­op­ing tech­nolo­gies, which are dis­rup­tive and trans­for­ma­tive, presents a unique sub set of chal­lenges. The in­vest­ment scene in Asia, with a few notable ex­cep­tions, have in the past been re­luc­tant to en­gage with medtech start-ups that of­ten have long prod­uct de­vel­op­ment time­lines that are tra­di­tion­ally as­so­ci­ated with ground break­ing medtech de­vel­op­ments. Al­though many na­tions in Asia, no­tably Sin­ga­pore, are de­vel­op­ing biotech hubs and are investing heav­ily to carve their niche in this in­dus­try by en­cour­ag­ing en­trepreneurs and de­vel­op­ing the lo­cal tal­ent pool. This push is cre­at­ing a more con­ducive en­vi­ron­ment for the launch of in­no­va­tive health­care com­pa­nies with com­pelling business plans, and in our ex­pe­ri­ence, in­vestors are tak­ing no­tice like never be­fore.

What are your fu­ture plans in terms of mar­ket­ing/ prod­uct/pro­file ex­pan­sion?

The com­pany is de­vel­op­ing a pipe­line of tests based on val­i­dated tech­nol­ogy, the NovoTect plat­form, to ad­dress un­met med­i­cal needs in cancer di­ag­no­sis specif­i­cally for Asian pa­tient pop­u­la­tions. We are in talks with other de­vel­op­ers with a view to in li­cence ground break­ing tech­nolo­gies for the Asian mar­kets. The com­pany is cur­rently fi­nal­is­ing com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion plans to launch the NovoTect BrCa breast cancer di­ag­nos­tic test in Hong Kong early 2018, fol­lowed by Malaysia, Sin­ga­pore, In­done­sia, Thai­land, Viet­nam and other mar­kets across Asia as reg­u­la­tory ap­provals are re­ceived.

How is the cur­rent mar­ket trend for start-ups across the globe?

This is a good time for start-ups glob­ally, as costs as­so­ci­ated with the de­vel­op­ment of ground break­ing tech­nolo­gies, the ex­ten­sive op­por­tu­ni­ties to col­lab­o­rate with re­search cen­tres of ex­cel­lence opens up and gov­ern­ments recog­nise the great value and sup­port the start-up eco sys­tem like never be­fore.

Kane Black

CEO, Nova Sa­tra

Kane Black

CEO, Nova Sa­tra

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