Data compiled by Singapore's Economic Development Board (EDB) has shown that the output of the biomedical manufacturing sector in the country contracted almost 30 per cent over September compared to the same time last year. This decline was primarily due to a significant 37.1 per cent drop from the pharmaceutical sector, the result of a different mix of active pharmaceutical ingredients being manufactured in the country. Output from the medical technology sector, on the other hand, grew 62.9 per cent compared to September last year. For the biomedical cluster as a whole, manufacturing output was up 12.3 per cent for the first nine months of the year compared to the equivalent period in 2006. Total manufacturing output for the country was 2.8 per cent down on September last year, caused primarily by the drop in pharmaceuticals, according to the EDB. August's figures made for more encouraging reading, with pharmaceuticals showing growth of 52.6 per cent on last year according to the EDB, driven by high value APIs that helped push the biomedical manufacturing cluster as a whole to exhibit 18.7 per cent growth over the first eight months of the year compared to 2006. In July the EDB published figures showing the sector's optimistic outlook for the second half of the year, with 90 per cent of firms active in the biomedical manufacturing sector expecting business conditions to remain stable over the second half. The pharmaceutical segment expected increased production in order to build up stock and meet deliveries over the third quarter of the year. Expectations for the fourth quarter should be published in the next week or so. Singapore is becoming an increasingly popular destination for pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical firms, and can now boast eight of the world's top pharma companies on its shores. Between them they have set up 24 chemical-based manufacturing sites, and in less than two years the country has also seen the installation of four biologics sites, including a GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) vaccines plants and Lonza's two mammalian cell culture facilities. The country has experienced incredible growth over the past few years, establishing itself as a prime location for companies looking for a competitive location for biopharmaceutical and biotech-based activities Singapore's government has been supporting schemes to create an appealing business environment in the biomedical sciences, and has succeeded in attracting a number of big pharma players to its shores. Over 2006 the manufacturing output from such companies hit S$23bn - a hefty 30 per cent increase over 2005. Manufacturing in this sector grew four-fold between 2000 and 2006, with pharmaceuticals accounting for 91 per cent of this output. Biopharmaceuticals were responsible for the majority of growth in the manufacturing base in the region, with Lonza, Genentech, GSK and Abbott all having been active in increasing their presence in this field in Singapore over the last year. The country's aim is for Singapore's biomedical sciences industry to reach S$25bn by 2015, and employment in the sector to increase by almost 50 per cent to 15,000. As the region's reputation as a competitive, highly technological, highly skilled and high quality manufacturing location grows, it is likely to achieve this target as companies continue to invest in a region that offers a cost-effective and supportive environment for their growing biopharmaceutical activities.