From university mates to co-founders
Serial entrepreneur Johnson Chen has licensed three technologies from NUS, setting up separate start-up companies that aim to make an impact on the healthcare sector. It began when Mr Chen met up with his Cambridge University friend, Prof Lim Chwee Teck from the Department of Bioengineering and Department of Mechanical Engineering, who was then developing a technology that trapped tumour cells circulating in blood. Realising the commercial potential of this technology, the two friends spun it off into Clearbridge BioMedics in 2009. After translating a lab prototype into a commercial product, they launched the ClearCell™ System, which detects, isolates and retrieves intact circulating tumour cells. The ClearCell™ System is being sold to the global cancer research community. The company is now focusing on developing its next generation ClearCell™ System for clinical applications.
From cancer to wound healing and heart health
Recognising that NUS contained further technologies that may be commercially interesting, Mr Chen licensed another of Prof Lim’s innovations – a bioresorbable and biocompatible nanofibre with good mechanical, physical and chemical properties. Clearbridge NanoMedics was set up to commercialise this technology for cosmetic and wound management applications. NUS then introduced Johnson to an ultra-low powered electrocardiogram (ECG) chip, invented by Prof Lian Yong from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. This resulted in the setting up of Clearbridge VitalSigns, which is developing this NUS technology into the CardioLeaf®, a fully-integrated 3-Lead ECG monitor, targeting both medical and fitness applications.


Technology Commercialisation


Prof Lim Chwee Teck develops a technology to trap circulating tumour cells and a separate nanofibre technology


Three Clearbridge companies were set up: Clearbridge BioMedics (2009), Clearbridge NanoMedics (2010) and Clearbridge VitalSigns (2011)


Clearbridge VitalSigns collaborates with Maxim Integrated to produce a reference design for a highly integrated, telehealth fitness and patient monitoring shirt


Clearbridge BioMedics raised S$9 million in Series B funding