Foreign and local investors eye Malaysia’s growing digital healthcare

digital healthcare Malaysia
Image by szefei | Bigstockphoto

UNO Technologies, a Singaporean medical technology business, has recently established ties with local pharmaceutical startup Aetos Pharma to enter the Malaysian market.

Like many foreign and local companies that have invested in Malaysia this year, UNO Technologies is attempting to profit from the country’s growing investment in the public and private healthcare systems.

In particular, UNO and Aetos Pharma’s collaboration aims to take part in the country’s digital transformation by utilizing the most up-to-date healthcare technologies, such as an end-to-end clinic management system, in response to the sweeping changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In July of this year, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC announced a minority stake worth $180 million in Malaysia’s Sunway Healthcare, the owner of several hospitals and healthcare services in the country. Sunway Group’s founder and chairman, Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah, considers this transaction, which values Sunway Healthcare at $1 billion, a milestone for Sunway.

According to the American Malaysian Chamber of Commerce (AmCham Malaysia), the healthcare and medical devices sectors will see greater investment in the future, owing to promising growth in Malaysia’s electrical and electronics (E&E) industries.

Local investors are extremely keen on the country’s digital healthcare opportunities. In May, Navis Capital Partners acquired a majority stake in Aurelius Healthcare to back the development of a healthcare services platform that invests primarily in Malaysia’s brownfield and late-stage greenfield hospitals.

Foreign and local investors have also teamed up to explore opportunities in the country. A few weeks ago, Bloomberg reported that US private equity firm TPG Capital and Malaysian state-owned investment company Johor Corp. are considering taking Malaysia’s KPJ Healthcare Bhd private.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian government is banking on the startup ecosystem to accelerate the pace of innovation in the healthcare sector. At the KL Startup Summit in March, Senior Deputy Director of the Planning Division at Ministry of Health Malaysia (MoH), Dr Fazilah Shaik Allaudin, said that technology adoption and innovation by startups will improve Malaysian healthcare.

When the pandemic began, MoH collaborated with four startups to launch the Online Appointment System in public health clinics.

“Skills are the most important building blocks in a post-outbreak world. For that, we [MoH] have recognised the health startup ecosystem and the rapid growth of innovation which is happening in real time. The collaboration opens up new ways in handling the Covid-19 crisis such as the introduction of the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Robotics. It shows how humankind can achieve many strong feats when we work together,” Allaudin said.

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