A Research Blog

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A discovery from Professor David Silver’s lab has been commercialised with the formation of Babynostics Pte Ltd, a newly launched Singapore-based company, which develops cutting-edge nutritional solutions to encourage healthy brain development for babies and children.

CTeD and Professor Silver have worked together to develop and commercialise this technology for the past few years. We spoke to Professor David Silver, Scientific Founder of Babynostics, to find out his perspective on working with CTeD and the formation of Babynostics.

1. Tell us more about what Babynostics does.

Babynostics has a pipeline to develop lysophospholipids, which we discovered to be essential for human brain development, as clinical nutrition therapies targeted to preterm, low birthweight infants who are at risk for developing neurological problems. In addition to developing therapies for this particular at risk population, Babynostics is exploring applications of lysophospholipid formulations for improving maternal and fetal nutrition. As the name implies, Babynostics is also developing a diagnostic platform to identify pregnant mothers at risk of delivering a preterm baby.

2. Tell us about your experience in working with CTeD and forming a company in Singapore.

In my opinion, the process of forming a successful startup rests largely on identifying like-minded people that share your vision for the company, and have appropriate expertise in founding start-ups. Personally, I lacked any and all expertise in business and understanding of how much energy and time it would take to found a start-up. I think there is a large misconception that forming a start-up is an endeavor that any professor/inventor can do, and that it’s super exciting and will bring instantaneous rewards. In my view, nothing could be farther from the truth. Going back to my original thought, the primary currency needed to found a successful start-up is know-how in the business space that you plan to compete in. Given all of these major challenges, having a partner in CTeD has been essential. David Epstein, Director of CTeD, is a scientist at heart who specialises in cancer biology, but has an uncanny ability to quickly grasp an understanding of the diverse research activities at Duke-NUS and pinpoint research discoveries that could have commercial potential. David does not shy away from providing candid opinions of your work and asking the tough questions. Moreover, David and CTeD will seek outside expertise to evaluate your technology and assist directly with finding appropriate partners and smart investors. Again, it’s not a process for the faint at heart, but CTeD has been there throughout development of my own commercial projects to help manage the challenges along the way. 

3. Babynostics is currently run by Dr. Michael Shleifer and Mr. Laurent Benissan of SPRIM Ventures. What qualities did you look for in selecting a business partner for the commercialisation of your technology?

Finding Michael and Laurent has been serendipitous. I was introduced to Michael and Laurent through a long-time friend and colleague, Dr. Rick Gelling, the Chief Scientific Officer of Babynostics. Rick has decades of experience in development of clinical nutrition products and research in metabolic diseases. I spent several years trying to entice Rick to found a company around our discoveries, and Rick finally took the bait and introduced me to Michael and Laurent. Michael and Laurent are very successful serial entrepreneurs with experience in consumer health, clinical trials, metabolic diseases and development of diagnostics. In addition to these professional attributes, both Michael and Laurent share exactly the same enthusiasm and passion for our basic research as I do, and a similar vision for developing the Babynostics pipeline of therapeutics. On a personal level, they are both, Rick included, really nice people and a pleasure to work with. I think this makes for an outstanding “start-up” environment and generates a contagiously exciting atmosphere.

4. As the Scientific Founder, where do you hope to see Babynostics going in the future?

I hope that Babynostics will be a leader in providing diagnostics and clinical solutions for mother and baby.

5. What advice would you give to a fellow inventor aspiring to found a company?

My advice is to begin the dialogue with David Epstein and CTeD at an early stage in your project and continually explore building a network of experts and academic colleagues that can help you develop your plans.


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