BetaLife wins Cytiva’s first BioChallenge Competition in Southeast Asia

07 June 2023 | Wednesday | News

BetaLife wins top prize with its potential to provide regenerative medicines to patients with severe diabetes in Southeast Asia.
Cytiva leadership team and Dr Koh Boon Tong with winners of Southeast Asia BioChallenge in Singapore

Cytiva leadership team and Dr Koh Boon Tong with winners of Southeast Asia BioChallenge in Singapore

Cytiva’s BioChallenge aims to support the innovation of biotech startups.

Cytiva recognizes the talent, resource and scalability constraints faced by small to medium-sized biotechs in Southeast Asia. As such, it brought its global competition, BioChallenge, for the first time to four Southeast Asian countries - Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Singapore - to help promising biotech startups bring highly advanced innovations from discovery to delivery.



Southeast Asia BioChallenge received applications from companies with interests in four different therapeutic areas. BetaLife was named as the winner of the first BioChallenge in Southeast Asia on May 19, 2023 and was awarded SG$200 000 in FastTrak services covering cell engineering, process development and purification solutions. Singapore-based company Tessa Therapeutics, and Thailand- based BGF Plantrix, which came in second and third respectively, were awarded SG$100 000 in FastTrak* services and training, and 3 months’ license of GoSilico mechanistic chromatography modeling software worth up to SG$30 000 respectively, so that they can scale up efficiently, mitigate risks, and reduce time to market.


Southeast Asia BioChallenge’s panel of judges included regional industry leaders Dr Koh Boon Tong, Executive Director, A*STAR Bioprocessing Technology Institute (BTI) from Singapore and Dr Chairat Uthaipibull, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Thailand Center of Excellence for Life Sciences (TCELs) from Thailand.

Dr Koh Boon Tong, Executive Director at A*STAR’s BTI, says: “Every proposal was assessed based on five criteria which include project rationale, experimental outline, and future business impact. The three winners were chosen for their strong potential to advance the delivery of therapeutics that can benefit patients in the region.”

Dr Natasha Ng, Co-Founder, BetaLife says: "We’re striving to provide novel induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) therapies that will benefit diabetes patients in the region. Winning BioChallenge provides the right collaboration for us to embark on early-stage scale-up manufacturing as well as process development and accelerate translation of regenerative medicines for patients suffering from diabetes.”

Conor McKechnie, Vice President Strategy and Marketing, Cytiva says: "Data from Cytiva’s 2023 Global Biopharma Resilience Index shows that Asia Pacific is a hotspot for biopharma growth. However, respondents in APAC’s emerging countries say that it’s a challenge finding collaborators to work with on R&D and sourcing the talent they need. Through BioChallenge, we want to help address this and support startups with expertise and collaborators to bring advanced innovations to patients in the region.”

Since 2018, Cytiva’s BioChallenge has overseen more than 130 projects and has provided approximately four million USD of products and services to help promising biotech startups scale up efficiently, mitigate risks and reduce time to go to market. Past winners of the competition in Asia Pacific include VivaZome in Australia and New Zealand as well as Genexine in South Korea.

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