INEX Chief Government Kane Black on Innovating the Way forward for MedTech


INEX Innovate's chief executive Kane Black
INEX Innovate’s chief govt Kane Black

INEX Innovate (or INEX for brief) is Asia’s first girls’s well being expertise group. As considered one of Asia’s quickest rising medical expertise builders and medical laboratory operators, INEX focuses on creating and commercialising molecular diagnostic applied sciences within the areas of fetal well being and feminine oncology. With a broad industrial portfolio of validated molecular diagnostic checks for prenatal well being, and girls’s oncology. INEX operates a School of American Pathologists (CAP) accredited medical laboratory that gives diagnostic testing and contract analysis companies in Singapore to shoppers proper throughout the South East Asian area.

Along with INEX’s rising portfolio of applied sciences which can be beneath growth, INEX is actively pursuing merger and acquisition alternatives, as a part of a regional rollup technique throughout Asia, with the primary acquisition of a Taiwan genomics enterprise introduced earlier this yr. The corporate is exploring additional potential acquisitions in Malaysia, Indonesia and India, with the purpose of making a high two firm in fetal-maternal and girls’s well being diagnostics in Asia. Based by maternal-fetal medication specialists, INEX has been recognised globally with a number of accolades together with The Straits Occasions Singapore’s fastest-growing corporations and the Monetary Occasions’ high-growth corporations Asia-Pacific and has achieved accolades from Frost & Sullivan and the World Mental Property Organisation.

Coming off his latest win on the EY Singapore Entrepreneur of the Yr Awards. LUXUO speaks to INEX Innovate’s chief govt Kane Black on INEX’s position on the way forward for fetal-maternal care and oncology alongside INEX’s ambition to “democratise diagnostics”.

INEX Innovate's chief executive Kane Black
INEX Innovate’s chief govt Kane Black

What introduced you into the sphere of diagnostic analysis? 

Having been within the life sciences business for a number of years on the funding aspect, diagnostics was an important half that considered one of my unique co-founder’s, Ivanna Salehudin and I, noticed important unmet medical wants, particularly round girls’s well being. The significance of diagnostics can’t be overestimated, as with out the provision of correct diagnostics you don’t have remedy. 

This culminated within the institution of Nova Satra Dx Pte Ltd – which started analysis & growth right into a extremely correct liquid biopsy, or blood based mostly, breast most cancers diagnostic take a look at, an organization later backed by Malaysian conglomerate Genting Berhad. In 2019 following a number of conferences with the unique founders of INEX Improvements Change — Prof Mahesh Choolani and Dr. Sidney Yee along with medtech investor Kok Hwee Sim — we noticed a chance to convey collectively, by the use of a merger, Singapore’s two girls’s well being life sciences corporations – this led to the creation of what’s now generally known as INEX Innovate Pte Ltd. 

Since then, the corporate has quickly grown from 10 group members to 55 members, with 35 in Singapore and 20 based mostly in Taiwan. Now we have launched 11 new lab-based medical testing companies offering them to a rising community of greater than 200 medical doctors, clinics, and hospitals proper throughout Asia.

INEX now has 34 patents within the girls’s and maternal well being space and 17 logos, in addition to a spread of copyrights, domains and different mental property (IP) tied to its applied sciences. How necessary is analysis and growth (R&D) in your enterprise? What share of your revenues are reinvested in R&D?  

As a medical innovator, INEX Innovate is deeply concerned in academia and analysis and growth. We not solely help the native eco system via supporting analysis, licensing and commercialising the applied sciences which can be developed by the INEX group but additionally in Singapore’s centres of scientific excellence. INEX additionally offers the scientific and medical group entry to our applied sciences, I.P and know-hows to innovate and create new merchandise.

By way of the proportion of revenues reinvested in R&D, this has fluctuated dramatically as a consequence of our pivot and concentrate on COVID-19 testing through the pandemic after we centered all assets in supporting Singapore in COVID PCR testing with R&D taking a again seat. In 2022 and 2023 we refocused on R&D and invested roughly 50 p.c of revenues in R&D. In a normalised surroundings sometimes we might count on to see 10 to fifteen p.c of income being invested in R&D.

Registered IP being developed is essential because it offers the incentives that allow innovators throughout all kinds of industries to undertake the usually dangerous, troublesome, costly, and time-consuming course of of making new-to-the-world improvements. Right this moment we see such intangible belongings, akin to IP rights, which now command roughly 90 p.c of the S&P500 market worth in 2020.

Established in Singapore, how has the nation which is understood for supporting quick rising SMEs, helped the expansion of INEX?   

Asia stands as the colourful epicenter of fast-growing markets, charming the eye of companies and traders alike. With a dynamic mix of various cultures, progressive applied sciences, and a burgeoning center class, the continent is undeniably the place to be for these looking for unprecedented alternatives. Having lived in Asia for nearly 20 years, in Japan, Hong Kong and now Singapore, it will be, in my view troublesome to discover a higher place to determine a enterprise right this moment than Singapore. With a well-developed ecosystem, deep pool of expert expertise, high quality manufacturing, the very best infrastructure on this planet mixed with glorious help from governing businesses, whereas being in South-East Asia, one of many world’s quickest rising and more and more necessary areas of the world, Singapore has been instrumental within the development of INEX. 

INEX was based by training obstetricians, gynaecologists (OBGYNs) and key opinion leaders in fetal-maternal care and oncology. How has such a debuting line-up in creating the enterprise impacted INEX’s core mission?

The founding genesis of INEX as a girls’s and fetal maternal well being medical innovator stems from our co-founder Prof Mahesh Choolani’s deep expertise within the girls’s well being enviornment as a practising OBGYN and pre-eminent key opinion chief within the space of fetal maternal well being. This basis uniquely offers INEX with deep insights into unmet medical wants which has led us to many first’s – together with being the primary firm in Asia to launch Non Invasive Prenatal Testing “NIPT” with our iGene® NIPT take a look at, OvaCis® an intraoperative level of care take a look at equipment for sufferers who current with ovarian cysts and quite a lot of different applied sciences beneath growth together with LEXI® a Pre-Natal Diagnostic Check and EpiDx® a blood based mostly breast most cancers screening take a look at. 

You have got acknowledged a number of instances that INEX’s ambition is to “democratise diagnostics” by making these medical procedures extra correct, obtainable and reasonably priced to the general public. Are you able to elaborate additional there? 

I used the time period “democratise diagnostics” to imply permitting or offering affected person’s with a alternative. A alternative within the sense that we make diagnostic checks extra correct, which is essential for the early analysis of ailments akin to most cancers, extra extensively obtainable in order that they’re extra accessible and at a decrease value to communities – this disruption can actually solely be a profit to the societies inside which we stay. 

Our imaginative and prescient is to democratise medical diagnostics to girls throughout Asia and all over the world. Bringing them improved early detection that’s extra accessible, giving girls and moms larger certainty and confidence of their well being and discovering illness early, thereby enhancing their likelihood of medical success. At INEX, we see each affected person who interacts with our merchandise as a singular being who deserves particular person care and a spotlight. Buyer satisfaction is within the core of our imaginative and prescient and coronary heart of our operations.

INEX’s epiDx® is a patient-friendly choice that reduces discomfort from normal imaging processes. By utilizing a blood pattern, it shows larger sensitivity and specificity than current strategies. Are you able to tell us how distinctive is that this particular course of out there?

One of many huge points throughout Asia in relation to breast most cancers is the stubbornly low screening participation charges. Principally, girls who must be going for normal screening aren’t. This results in a late-stage breast most cancers analysis when affected person’s outcomes are enormously decreased. By shifting to blood-based breast most cancers screenings on the affected person’s level of care GP, we’ll take away the related discomfort, which girls typically say they really feel is degrading, and supply larger accessibility to encourage breast most cancers screening. 

Moreover, it’s estimated 50 p.c of Asian girls have, what is named, dense breast tissue. Dense breast tissue could make irregular findings tougher to see on a mammogram as a result of dense breast tissue and a few irregular breast modifications, akin to calcifications and tumours, each seem as white areas within the mammogram.

With this in thoughts we went about seeking to develop a expertise which firstly has improved sensitivity and specificity, secondly eliminated the related discomfort and thirdly was obtainable at the usual level of care – with a view that we may convey into common screening applications girls who aren’t presently present process any type of screening and due to this fact enhance affected person outcomes. 

INEX has carried out substantial research on ovarian cancers. What has been the finds and sensible developments within the labs and on the bottom? 

Ovarian most cancers is the fifth most prevalent most cancers suffered by girls globally. Whereas that is much less prevalent than different cancers it’s sadly one of many deadliest cancers as a consequence of it generally being identified at a sophisticated stage, when the possibility of profitable remedy is enormously decreased. 

That is due partly to there being no correct molecular screening take a look at presently current to detect early-stage ovarian most cancers, so preliminary ovarian most cancers analysis generally discovered based mostly on signs, akin to bloating, fatigue, weight reduction, stomach distention, pelvic ache and feeling full shortly. Sadly, by the point most sufferers with ovarian most cancers see a physician, 70 p.c to 80 p.c are already late stage. That’s as a result of the signs of ovarian most cancers are so imprecise, and sufferers typically expertise them for months earlier than looking for assist.

With this unmet want in tackling ovarian most cancers, the group at INEX have developed two options. The primary is OvaCis® an intra-operative level of care take a look at, that’s used to check if an ovarian cyst is benign or malignant (cancerous). As many as 1 in 10 girls sooner or later of their lifetime will develop an ovarian cyst. Whereas these cysts will, most of the time, show to be benign and can clear up with out remedy, it will be significant that they’re examined. Present follow is what is named a “frozen part” the place a surgeon removes a part of the tissue and sends to a pathologist who freezes the tissue with liquid nitrogen, slices the tissue into sections, after which stains it with particular staining options in order that it may be considered beneath a microscope. This course of takes as much as an hour and isn’t universally obtainable. INEX’s OvaCis® resolution is a extremely delicate and particular, and is made on a lateral stream gadget, like a COVID-19 ART take a look at equipment for ease of use, with out want for classy procedures. It merely makes use of the fluid which is from throughout the cyst, which is then positioned onto the gadget and visualised inside quarter-hour to decide if the cyst is benign or malignant. 

Secondly we’re creating a blood-based ovarian most cancers screening take a look at dubbed Xena® – a minimally invasive and environment friendly technique of screening for ovarian most cancers. Xena® measures the degrees of microRNA within the blood, particularly selecting up an irregular expression of microRNAs which can be correlated with the presence of ovarian most cancers. Xena® is aimed to be launched in late 2024.

Kane Black along with his group on the E50 awards

You shared that “with a gifted, entrepreneurial and devoted group, we’re on observe to changing into Asia’s main molecular diagnostic developer”. What’s subsequent on the horizon for INEX, an IPO? 

INEX is increasing each organically, via new product launches and new market entry, and thru acquisition. As a part of our pan-Asia roll-up technique we not too long ago introduced the acquisition of a Taiwan based mostly genomics group, that has a rising North Asia enterprise with revenues emanating from Taiwan, Japan and Korea. 

We’re presently in negotiations on one other potential acquisition of a agency which is the market chief of their nation in fetal-maternal and girls’s well being testing, moreover we’re exploring different potential synergistic M&A alternatives. With this we purpose to be a top-two participant in each market in Asia in fetal-maternal and girls’s well being. 

Now we have been actively learning quite a lot of potential IPO alternatives right here in Singapore, London, New York and among the regional bourses. Nevertheless in mild of the present difficult and sub-optimal circumstances within the IPO market, we’re affected person till a window of alternative opens to progress to an eventual IPO.

INEX Innovate’s chief govt Kane Black on the EY Singapore Entrepreneur of the Yr Awards

You have got gained the extremely coveted EY Singapore Entrepreneur of the Yr Award for the biotechnology sector in 2022. What have been your ideas on receiving this recognition for the work you and your group have produced?  

Being considered one of six winners to be chosen by an impartial judging panel from near 140 nominations for the EY Singapore Entrepreneur of the Yr Award 2022 was an extremely proud second for me and my group. On the finish of the day as a pacesetter one can solely be pretty much as good as one’s group and this recognition actually is a credit score to all the group of devoted, pushed, and good members at INEX Innovate and iGene Laboratory. I’m grateful and honored to function Chief Government of INEX and iGene.

For those who have been to call one mentor who has impressed you in your life and profession, who would that be? 

I’ve learnt and been impressed by many individuals in my life from all completely different walks, from my first Japanese boss to enterprise companions, family and friends. I’m an avid reader of biographies and auto biographies and consider these are sometimes a supply of nice inspiration. You may be taught, and be impressed by, what has taken somebody 20, 30, 40 or 50 years of expertise in just a few hundred pages.

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