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Biotech firm Mirxes opens Southeast Asia's first industry 4.0 facility in Singapore

Mirxes has opened the first industry 4.0 (i4.0) in vitro diagnostics manufacturing facility in Southeast Asia. PHOTO: MIRXES.COM

Mirxes, a biotechnology company based in Singapore and a spin-off from Singapore's science and tech research arm A*Star, has opened the first Industry 4.0 (i4.0) in vitro diagnostics manufacturing facility in South-east Asia.

At 15,000 sq ft, this facility at JTC MedTech Hub is the largest in the region.

Up to 50 people will also be employed on-site by next year, an increase of 66.7 per cent.

The firm is investing $8 million to produce diagnostic test kits in vitro, which means outside the living body and in an artificial environment.

It is a timely investment for the company as it accelerates the development and commercialisation of its pipeline of early detection test kits that are powered by microRNA (miRNA) technology.

Dr Zhou Lihan, co-founder and chief executive, said the new facility will further the firm's ambitions to develop and commercialise early detection tests for other types of cancers.

The biotech firm has reported before that it intends to commercialise up to six more early detection test kits for cancer over the next six years.

Early detection tests for lung and thyroid cancer will be launched this year, with colorectal and breast cancer diagnostic tests coming up next year, and liver and ovarian cancer test kits in 2024.

Dr Zhou added that diagnostic tests for pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases are also in the pipeline.

The facility will also support the growth of the company's life sciences and infectious diseases portfolio.

"This first-of-its kind facility in South-east Asia will equip the company to address the next big challenge in healthcare - cancer, and stay prepared should we need to combat another epidemic," Dr Zhou said.

In 2019, it launched GastroClear, the first blood-based early detection test for stomach cancer.

The test detects cancer by measuring biomarkers called miRNA found in blood.

Mirxes has also harnessed miRNA technology to develop the first made-in-Singapore test kit for Covid-19.

The i4.0 manufacturing facility is also part of the bigger plan by the company to pioneer Industry 4.0 solutions for manufacturing diagnostic test kits in vitro.

Dr Zhou said the facility will increase Singapore's capabilities in advanced manufacturing and create more high skilled jobs for the industry.

Mirxes will work together with A*Star's Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre (ARTC) to co-develop Industry 4.0 solutions for in vitro diagnostics and research use only innovations.

Dr David Low, CEO of ARTC, said the collaboration will accelerate the adoption of advanced manufacturing solutions and facilitate manufacturing at scale.

The Mirxes' facility has the ability to scale up to five in-parallel production lines, as it uses a seamless plug and play infrastructure system.

This would create a substantial tripling of capacity and output within each product line.

The biomedical cluster is an integral part of Singapore's manufacturing sector.

According to the Economic Development Board, the biomedical manufacturing sector now makes up 16.9 per cent of manufacturing output.

Mr Peter Ong, chairman of Enterprise Singapore (EnterpriseSG), said Mirxes' investment in i4.0-enabled manufacturing capabilities will set the bar for the rest of the industry and contribute to Singapore's Manufacturing 2030 ambitions to grow a strong core of global manufacturers that offer innovative and distinctive solutions for the global markets.

The company is part of Enterprise Singapore Scale-up SG programme, which helps high-growth local companies scale rapidly and groom them into future global champions.

Since its participation in 2020, the biotech firm has been working closely with EnterpriseSG to explore and capture opportunities in Southeast Asia including Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

The firm already has operations in China, Japan and the US.