East Ventures and NalaGenetics’ commitment to supporting genomic sample analysis at the Biomedical and Genome Science Initiative (BGSi)
East Ventures, a pioneering and leading venture capital (VC) firm in Indonesia and Southeast Asia, and NalaGenetics, a biotechnology company focused on personalized medicine, diet, and screening, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Director General of Health Services, Ministry of Health of the Republic of Indonesia, as a commitment to support genomic sample analysis in Indonesia’s Biomedical and Genome Science Initiative (BGSi). The ceremonial signing of this MoU took place at the East Ventures booth during the Tech in Asia Conference 2023 and was attended by Budi Gunadi Sadikin, Minister of Health of the Republic of Indonesia.
“The healthcare transformation undertaken by the government and our vision for healthcare in Indonesia are expected to provide the solution for the Indonesian population to have good access to quality healthcare at affordable prices. With this reform, we also invite public participation in government initiatives such as genome sequencing through BGSi (Biomedical and Genome Science Initiative), supported by East Ventures. When there is broad public interest and participation, it indicates a strong signal to the government that the reform is progressing well. Therefore, the more inclusive our approach, the smoother the path to change and progress,” said dr. Azhar Jaya, S.H., SKM, MARS, Director General of Health Services, Ministry of Health of the Republic of Indonesia.
According to the white paper titled “Genomics: Leapfrogging into the Indonesian healthcare future,” presented by East Ventures and The Ministry of Health of the Republic of Indonesia, in February, Indonesia has entered the early stage of its genomic journey and is on the right path. As time passes, Indonesia’s younger generation will age and face potential health risks and challenges that could strain the healthcare infrastructure. To mitigate potential health crises, genomics can be an alternative to enhance the quality of patient services by providing preventive efforts, precise treatment, known as precision medicine. As genomics evolves, it has the potential to transform the healthcare service ecosystem and potentially unlock an economic value of over US$100 billion.
The collaboration among the three parties aims to accelerate genomic advancements in Indonesia. East Ventures is providing reagents and consumables worth IDR 1,022,395,458 for use in sequencing processes in BGSi.
NalaGenetics will collaborate with BGSi, in transferring the sequencing knowledge and expertise. This partnership is expected to create new product innovations based on local genetic data, harnessing the potential of Indonesia’s genomic population data.
“We welcome East Ventures and NalaGenetics’ commitment to support the acceleration of genomic sequencing initiatives through BGSi. The support of East Ventures and NalaGenetics is a strong push for Indonesia to provide better healthcare services to the Indonesian people in the future,” said Mr Azhar.
“Looking at countries with well-established healthcare infrastructure, we see significant untapped potential in the Indonesian healthcare service industry for the next five years. This potential can be categorized into three main sectors: hospitals, pharmaceuticals, and other aspects of the industry, including medical equipment. This potential presents a great opportunity for healthcare sector players, including healthtech startups and investors,” Mr Azhar added.
“We are pleased to play a part in supporting genomic development in Indonesia. East Ventures is committed to supporting innovations that have the potential to make a significant impact in Indonesia, such as genomics. We believe that this partnership will be a significant step towards establishing genomic data entry in Indonesia, unlocking various health opportunities, particularly in preventive healthcare,” said Willson Cuaca, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at East Ventures.
“Nalagenetics has dedicated itself to preventive healthcare in Indonesia, from preventing adverse drug reactions to cancer and other complex diseases. Based on our research, the breast cancer risk prediction test that we developed for the Indonesian population, and Southeast Asian population data has a six-fold higher odds ratio compared to global competitors who do not use regional data.
With Indonesian data sets, we can develop more accurate tests for Indonesia and it’s region. Through the collaboration with BGSi and East Ventures, we are optimistic that we can drive implementation of personalized care in Indonesia. We are thrilled to be part of the project and to provide expert sequencing and bioinformatics contributions,” said Levana Laksmicitra Sani, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer at NalaGenetics.
At the same event, East Ventures also announced the closure of its latest “Healthcare Fund” of US$30 million allocated for investments in technology startups in the healthcare sector.
East Ventures has actively supported the development of Indonesia’s healthcare industry and the rise of healthtech startups in the country. Since 2018, before the COVID-19 pandemic, East Ventures believes the potential of genomic technology to revolutionize Indonesia’s healthcare system and infrastructure, as demonstrated by investments in NalaGenetics and other companies. East Ventures also supported the Ministry of Health in launching the Biomedical & Genome Science Initiative (BGSi) in August 2022.
In supporting the startup ecosystem in the healthcare sector, East Ventures was also involved in the Ministry of Health’s Digital Transformation Office incubation program, the “Health Innovation Sprint Accelerator 2023 in collaboration with East Ventures” which was concluded in May.