The Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech) signed agreements with the following companies:
• InziGn Pte Ltd, a contract manufacturer specialising in precision mould making, plastics injection moulding and assembly of disposable medical devices;
• Austrianova, a Singapore-based high tech, life science and biotech company which will encapsulate living cells in bio-inert polymers using their proprietary “Cell-in-a-Box®”; and
• QuantuMDx Group, a UK-based diagnostic company with operations in Singapore.
The three companies are partnering SIMTech in the transfer, licensing and research collaboration in microfluidics technology respectively. These partnerships will allow for cost effective and novel solutions to be made available to industry, and the development of commercially unavailable microfluidic devices.
The global microfluidics market is witnessing significant growth, due to the rising awareness of microfluidics products and the growing investments in this market. The polymer- based microfluidics device market is valued at an estimated US$1.08 billion in 2013 and is expected to reach US$2.7 billion by 2018, at a Compounded Annual Growth Rate of 20.3 percent. 
SIMTech will transfer a complete set of microfluidics manufacturing technology to InziGn for mass production of microfluidics devices. Through this partnership, InziGn will benefit from an enhancement to its manufacturing capabilities and will be able to expand into mass production of complex diagnostic devices. SIMTech’s Microfluidics Foundry – primarily a microfluidics research foundry− will continue to provide design, prototyping and pilot production services to industry and academia to speed up the development of microfluidic products, while InziGn will provide high quality mass production services.
A licence has also been signed between Exploit Technologies Pte Ltd (ETPL), the technology transfer arm of A*STAR, and Austrianova to use SIMTech’s microfluidics-based single phase droplet generation technology for living encapsulated cells. The disposable microbead generation device (pictured below) yields high throughput and contamination-free micro-encapsule formation of cells, enzymes or drugs. The microfluidic dispensing head, which is the droplet generator, is made of disposable polymer chip. As it is disposable, sterilisation is not required. Hence, the downtime of the encapsulated cell manufacturing line is reduced.
The research collaboration agreement with QuantuMDx Group is for the development of a portable Point-Of-Care (POC) assay cassette for its Molecular Diagnostics (MDx) platform, suitable for 'in-field' use in resource-limited settings or countries, such as Africa. Such a device is not available commercially at the moment. The single-use disposable cassette is the key part of a handheld multiplex MDx device for analysing whole blood for DNA mutation testing or for infectious disease testing. The low-cost cassette includes microfluidics handling of samples, on-chip sample preparation, polymerase chain reaction, and detection modules.
Dr Lim Ser Yong, Executive Director, SIMTech, said: “Through various collaborative platforms, the SIMTech Microfluidics Foundry nurtures and grows the microfluidics industry by supporting the business and research community in the development of microfluidic technology and applications. The ongoing efforts aim to pave the way for industry to tap the emerging microfluidics market. Since the launch of the SIMTech Microfluidics Foundry in 2011, it has supported more than 20 companies in the chemicals, diagnostic, life science and precision engineering industry.”