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AMS Spring 2023

3D Printed Pharma Firm Craft Health Receives $1M from Investors, Including Jenny Chen

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Craft Health’s tailored drug technology just received a boost. The Singapore 3D printed pharmaceuticals manufacturer announced it has raised S$1.42 million ($1.03 million) in its latest Pre-Series A. The funds will propel Craft Health’s 3D printing platform as it prepares for South-East Asia’s first clinical trial on 3D printed pharmaceuticals. Also in the works are various 3D printed nutrition and supplementation initiatives with several nutraceutical companies.

Led by Tokyo-based venture capital (VC) firm Mistletoe, the round also had participation from Kyoto medical equipment manufacturer Arkray’s corporate venture arm Arkray 4U; neuroradiologist and founder of 3DHeals, Jenny Chen; and angel investor Chang-Hung Tseng. This new cash infusion brings the total raised by Craft Health to date to S$2.4 million ($1.7 million).

From Deep Tech to 3D Printed Pills

Originally a deep tech startup from the inaugural batch of the National University of Singapore (NUS)’s Graduate Research Innovation Programme (GRIP), Craft Health was founded by pharmacists Wei Jian Goh and Lim Seng Han in 2019. According to NUS, the graduate students had identified a recurring patient problem at hospitals, mainly that they took home bags of medicines with often complicated medication regimes. Instead, combining several medications into a single polypill could help patients, be much more cost-effective and ensure it delivers all the proper medication at the right time in the correct dose. Attempting to solve this problem led the duo to develop a 3D printing solution during their penultimate year of graduate studies to manage patients’ daily medicines.

Craft Health’s CraftMake printer to make polypill pharmaceuticals. Image courtesy of Craft Health.

Driven by the need to simplify drug delivery is core to what Craft Health wants to achieve. The company considers that patients typically face high pill burdens, especially with today’s greying demographics worldwide. This issue of high pill burden is well positioned to be mitigated through 3D printed technology, and here Craft Health is taking advantage of 3D printing technology to create its polypills. Capable of making multiple supplements or medicines in a single pill, Craft Health states that the result is an on-demand supplement developed for varied controlled release. These include immediate, delayed or enteric, and sustained release and orally disintegrating tablet formulations. For this to happen, the required active ingredient is mixed with the formulation with the desired controlled release profile before 3D printing.

CraftMake after printing polypills. Image courtesy of Craft Health.

The company began by marketing its 3D printing platform to distributors and pharmaceutical companies so they could personalize nutrition and medicine. Today it utilizes its own 3D printing platform with its proprietary CraftMake 3D printer, CraftControl 3D printing software, and even 3D printable materials with controlled release profiles, known as CraftBlends. The trio of products allows multiple active ingredients to be combined into a polypill, reformulate active ingredients into different controlled release profiles and form factors, and design and formulate new 3D printed products.

Building a Pill 3D Printing Startup

Nestled at NUS Enterprise at the Singapore Science Park, Craft Health was incubated in a startup environment which has led company founders to exchange ideas with other startups, and under the NUS ToughLove program, they gained access to the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) Studio, where they have received invaluable engineering help from Master Engineer Richard Chee.

In just two years, Craft Health managed to gain plenty of attention, particularly in Asia, where it won second place at the inaugural National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Cluster (NAMIC) startup forum in 2019 before presenting its technology to Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) innovation center.

Commenting on the latest funding round, Atsushi Taira, the managing director of Mistletoe Singapore, said, “Craft Health has been striving to provide transformational innovations for oral medication and supplements. At first glance, it may be seen as just printing pills with 3D printers, but what sets them apart is the personalized formulations and novel controlled release technologies for various active ingredients. Craft Health would transform the industry fundamentally into informatics, demand-driven manufacturing, and lean supply chains. I am so thrilled about the future of Craft Health and the potential industry transformation.”

With medical 3D printing expert Jenny Chen also investing in the firm, her participation will likely draw much attention from the bioprinting industry to Craft Health, especially since Chen has one of the largest 3D printing networks and is globally active through her organization, bringing people together from various branches of healthcare to learn from each other and innovate in 3D printing and bioprinting. Like its other investors, Chen’s input will be extremely valuable for a company set on relieving the burden of pills for patients.

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