In an interview with VentureBeat, IBM researchers announced a landmark breakthrough in the blossoming field of nano medicine. According to the article, IBM chemists worked with bioengineers in Singapore to develop synthetic, biodegradable nano particles that selectively kill *all* bacteria – including strands known to resist antibiotics. Even better, they’ve created an automatically assembling hydrogel that enables a number of safe and practical applications in the near term.
While the discovery, science and market potential of the technology is breath-taking, there’s a hint at a bigger, more subtle reality: these life-changing technologies were not developed in the United States, but in Singapore. They will, like most other medical solutions, be sold in the United States at premium above that of other markets.
The obvious argument is that globalization and drastic economic incentives make a place like Singapore attractive to multi-nationals like IBM looking to get more bang for their R&D buck. However, any discerning reader will know this is merely a surface argument. The reality is that Singapore’s health care system is better, #6 in the world compared the U.S.’s #37 according to the World Health Organization. An environment that reduces the uncertainty of taking a concept to market through a well-balanced, straight-forward regulatory strategy breeds the kind of institutions that are conducting research (and winning patents) on the bleeding edge of innovation. The “why” of the situation is a little less comfortable to swallow: while constituent and representatives alike turn health care regulation into an ideological battle, the rest of the world is slowly passing us by.