Merck's Digital Hub in Singapore Pioneers Healthcare and Semiconductor Advancements

09 February 2024 | Friday | Interaction

Laura Matz discusses the strategic alignment of Merck's Digital Hub goals, the pivotal role of Syntropy™ and Athinia™ platforms, and the impact on talent development in Singapore
Laura Matz, Chief Science & Technology Officer at Merck.

Laura Matz, Chief Science & Technology Officer at Merck.

Merck, with over 350 years of groundbreaking scientific contributions, continues its legacy of innovation with the establishment of the Merck Digital Hub in Singapore. This hub, a beacon of digital advancement, signifies Merck's commitment to fostering collaboration and innovation in the healthcare and semiconductor industries. In an exclusive interview with BioPharma APAC, Laura Matz, Chief Science & Technology Officer at Merck, sheds light on the strategic objectives of the Digital Hub, the pivotal role played by Syntropy™ and Athinia™ platforms, and the anticipated impact on talent development in Singapore 


What are the specific goals and objectives of the Merck Digital Hub in Singapore, and how do they align with the company's broader strategy in the healthcare and semiconductor sectors globally? Additionally, could you explain the role of Syntropy™ and Athinia™ platforms within the hub and how they contribute to fostering secure data collaboration within the healthcare and semiconductor industries?


Merck has a rich heritage of pioneering science and technology for over 350 years. Our innovations in the healthcare, life science, and electronics sectors have advanced science and improved the lives of people worldwide. The Merck Digital Hub in Singapore continues our legacy of accelerating innovation   and fostering the talent of subject matter experts -- now in the digital space.


The Merck Digital Hub in Singapore complements our Digital Business hubs in the US and Europe, and will be home to our digital platforms Syntropy™ and Athinia™,  which serves the healthcare and semiconductor industries, respectively. Our platforms facilitate trusted collaboration within and between businesses by enabling data transparency and traceability on a secure platform. 


Syntropy™ looks at how healthcare data is shared, protected, and leveraged in a hyper-secure, governed environment, enabling collaboration between medical researchers within the healthcare ecosystem to deliver a more connected, efficient, and sustainable healthcare ecosystem. It lays the foundation for AI-driven analyses, with high quality data as the key ingredient. Athinia™ helps to create a trusted and secured data collaboration ecosystem in the semiconductor industry that optimizes supply chain efficiency and technological advancement.


With the establishment of the Digital Hub in Singapore, how does Merck plan to leverage the city-state's reputation for innovation and digital excellence to drive advancements in digital health, semiconductor technology, and artificial intelligence (AI)?


We are driven by the belief that data and digital technologies are catalysts for the future. Digitalization is critical to enable our businesses, accelerate innovation and to create new solutions for customers and patients. Bringing together the best data and software talent can create an environment for their growth where we can improve efficiency via collaboration.


Like Merck, Singapore’s manufacturing strengths have made it a global leader in the chemical, electronics, and biotech sectors. But as a “City of the Future,” Singapore also has a vibrant and rapidly growing tech ecosystem with a reputation for forward-thinking innovation, particularly in digital health, semiconductors, and artificial intelligence. This history and vision represent strong synergies for Merck, especially as we create data and digital products that can increase quality and efficiency within healthcare and electronics. 


The Singapore government has also made tremendous efforts in tech initiatives, including establishing the Digital Trust Centre to accelerate the nation’s R&D in digital trust technologies and ecosystems and to build the necessary talent. 


With the presence of the new Merck Digital Hub in Singapore, we are excited to become a central participant within this growing ecosystem, nourished by the Singapore government, and encourage new tech businesses and emerging talent in software engineering and data science. 


Could you provide insights into the collaborative initiatives and partnerships that Merck envisions fostering through the Digital Hub, both locally in Singapore and on a global scale, to propel innovation in the specified industries?


Merck envisions creating a world where data-driven insights and decisions can accelerate scientific and technological progress. With advanced analytics and machine learning, we can help engineers push the bounds of physics, scientists identify breakthroughs, and doctors deliver high-value, personalized care. However, the more we rely on such models to inform our decision making, the more trustworthy these models must be. That requires not only big data, but data that is high-quality, transparent, and traceable. It also needs to unify data that currently lives in siloes, without which we have incomplete digital picture of real-world constructs.


Syntropy™ and Athinia™ provide the foundation for trustworthy and responsible AI by enabling data sharing on a secure platform. The partnerships these companies facilitate will establish a global standard for data collaboration in the healthcare and semiconductor industries, respectively. By harnessing the power of collaboration, we can focus innovation towards addressing the most pressing challenges in science, healthcare and technology.


Leveraging our Syntropy™ and Athinia™ platforms, we create data collaboration ecosystems for our customers in the semiconductor and healthcare industries in Singapore, the region and globally that help to unlock the full potential of data and make science faster. 


With the growing influence of digital technologies, it is more critical than ever to achieve zero-defect production and expedite the introduction of new innovations to the market. Athinia is pioneering an industry-wide standard on quality and manufacturing management by enabling multiple companies to share data seamlessly. 


Syntropy™ unlocks the full potential of healthcare data by facilitating a collaborative environment where researchers, clinicians, and healthcare providers can securely access, share, and analyze data. This approach not only accelerates scientific discovery and innovation but also ensures that these advancements are rapidly translated into practical applications that benefit patients worldwide. By fostering partnerships with leading healthcare institutions, research organizations, and technology companies, and through the support of the EDB, Syntropy™ is positioned to support the digital transformation of healthcare in Singapore and beyond.

In what ways does Merck anticipate the Digital Hub to impact job opportunities and talent development, especially within the healthcare, semiconductor, and AI sectors, and what initiatives are in place to strengthen the local workforce in Singapore?


Singapore is the regional headquarters for Merck in Asia Pacific, supporting the healthcare, life science and electronics businesses. Singapore is recognized globally for pushing innovation and digital excellence, particularly in key areas such as digital health, semiconductor technology, and artificial intelligence. Singapore is home to many of the brightest scientists, software engineers, and data engineers, credit to the Singapore government’s strong commitment to digital innovation. The country’s National AI Strategy 2.0 aims to more than triple the number of AI practitioners and will propel AI excellence” in key domains including manufacturing and healthcare over the next three to five years. These factors make Singapore an ideal location for Merck’s third Digital Hub, and we look forward to growing our local team with our continued commitment to technical talent development in the country. 


How does the Merck Digital Hub differentiate itself from similar initiatives in the US and Europe, and what unique contributions does it aim to make in enhancing digital innovation and research within the Asia Pacific region?


Our presence in Singapore presents a unique and excellent opportunity for collaboration with local research institutes, government organizations, and customers who share our vision. The addition of The Digital Hub in Singapore extends our reach into the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, complementing our activities in the US and Europe, but also enhances our ability to develop cutting-edge global solutions. It plays a crucial role in our mission to break down data silos and facilitate collaboration across borders, industries, and cultures.


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