Checking in with Mr. David N. Edwards, Chief Executive Officer, BioMers Pte Ltd
By Ai San Yip
Edited by Cheryl Ma
Photo courtesy ofÂ BioMers
12 September 2011
We ran an interview article on BioMers in March 2010. About a year and half later, Genewired.com checks-in again with Mr. David Edwards, CEO.
BioMers's flagship product - SimpliClear.
1. BioMers is cited as an example of a successful local technology start-up by Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr. Lee Hsien Loong in the National Day Rally Speech. Outline the key points and significant progress.
BioMers has made a great deal of progress since GeneWired last spoke to the company in March 2010. The team has made significant leaps forward in important areas such as product development, clinical and in-market validation ofÂ the flagship product SimpliClear.
Regarding SimpliClear development, the team has completed a number of developments that led to test marketing of SimpliClear. During 2010, the team has succeeded in building a clear rectangular wire and a customisation process. Together with our previous clear wires, we have achieved a â€˜next-generationâ€™ aesthetic orthodontic brace system that is designed to deliver not only a clear aesthetic benefit, but more importantly a high performing clear orthodontic appliance that is effective in treating a broad range of patient cases â€“ from simple to complex. In our opinion,Â the combination of performance and clear aesthetics is an exciting breakthrough in orthodontics, and has the potential to change the way doctors and patients alike think about cosmetic orthodontic appliances.
At the beginning of 2011, we launched test markets of the SimpliClear clear brace system in Singapore and the United States. After which, we gained more experience with the productâ€™s performance and acceptability of product in changing market conditions, thereby extracting real business value. The results that we achieved have been very encouraging in terms of productâ€™s performance in-clinic and patient satisfaction.
Personally, I shared a vagrant optimism that the some of us were making real progress as a team.Â In the last few months,Â we sat down andÂ understoodÂ on how opportunities and markets react into our initial plans. So, building on the experience gained over the months, we have now directed our focus to allow for the commercial expansion of our flagship SimpliClear brand and product. We feel strongly that the cosmetic orthodontic market remains under-penetrated. As such, we are currently building our commercial and manufacturing capacity and the business process capabilities required to support rapid sales expansion. Our first objective is to expand our test markets in Singapore and the U.S., followed by expansion to other geographical markets.
From a funding standpoint, weÂ are working with our Venture Capital partner Nanostart Asia (the subsidiary of Nanostart AG, a publicly traded German VC firm specialised in investments in nanotechnologies) to close the Series-A Funding and subsequently,Â secure a Series-B investment. In fact, we areÂ very pleased by the strong interest generated by our Series-B offering.
2. You have extensive experience in global roles in U.S., Europe and Asia, what led you to BioMers (and Singapore)?
At the end of last year, I was approached by one of the investors in the business. I was intrigued by the opportunity, from the very first conversation. I had spent the last 12 years of my career in a number of leadership roles in large multinational healthcare companies like Johnson & Johnson and Bausch & Lomb. When I looked back on my experience, I realised that some of the most exciting and satisfying roles had been those that involved breakthrough technologies, new innovations and high growth opportunities.
One of my first roles in Johnson & Johnson was to lead a â€˜start-up likeâ€™ of Consumer Nutritionals business in Europe, which was a new business at the time. We had the opportunity to create a business from its very inception. Though we were part of a larger multinational corporation, we were treated very much as a start-up. We were created as an entirely new business unit, focused on introducing a revolutionary new bio-active that would ultimately create an entirely new category of cholesterol lowering food under the Benecol brand. It was an exciting role and one in which I gained my first taste of a start-up environment. I also had the opportunity to lead J&Jâ€™s Asia Pacific Vision Care business which at the time was setting the pace for technological and marketing innovation, and growth, in its industry. Looking back on those experiences and how much I enjoyed leading those businesses, it was obvious to me that the convergence of healthcare technology, innovation, growth, global scope and the early stage nature of the business offered by the BioMers opportunity represented an interesting proposition.Â
3. Do you have any thoughtsÂ or other considerations?Â
Yes, and certainly.Â I performed my own due diligence on the company and the opportunity.Â Firstly, the category in which BioMersâ€™ flagship product SimpliClear competes is one of the most dynamic categories in orthodontics with strong fundamentals for continued growth and innovation. From a technology standpoint, the platform technology underpinning SimpliClear represents a remarkable breakthrough in material science that delivers a unique benefit â€“ the combination of clear aesthetics and excellent performance â€“ with the potential to postively impact the standard of care in the category. The technology was also supported by strong IPs which help to ensure the competitive advantage of our product into the future.
The quality of the team was also an important consideration. When I met the team, I was impressed by not only the domain knowledge, know-how and competence they had, but also by their vision for the company and the business, their passion and their resilience. It was easy to recognize the potential of the company with such a strong team at its core. Our lead investor, Nanostart, also impressed me by their passion and commitment to the business. From the very start, I felt a good chemistry with both the management team and the investors and knew that this was a team that I could work with successfully.
Finally, the fact that the business was Singapore-based was a plus as well. Firstly, I was already located in Singapore at the time which made the personal transition easier. I also had spent a number of years working in Medtech in Singapore and understood the benefits that Medtech companies in Singapore enjoy â€“ access to research and talent, a business friendly environment, excellent infrastructure, support by the government in developing Singapore as a world class Life Sciences / BioTech / Medtech centres in general, and more specifically the governmentâ€™s support in developing home-grown high-technology companies in that space. In addition, being based in Singapore provides the company with close proximity to the large and rapidly developing markets in Asia.
As I look back on the lastÂ five months, I am pleased with the progress that we have made and are making. More importantly, I remain more excited than ever with the opportunity that we have to build BioMers into a world class company at the forefront of innovation in material science applied to medical technology. We are very focused on building SimpliClear as the first important step in that direction.