The facility will handle customer care and technical service requests in regional languages including Korean, Mandarin, Cantonese, Malay and English, and will "further increase" the company's responsiveness to the information and service requirements of customers in research, applied testing, pharma and molecular diagnostics in the entire Asian-Pacific region including Australia, said Qiagen. Peer Schatz, CEO of Qiagen said that the investment will also allow it to extend its services to operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the near future. This, coupled with the closer proximity allows customers in "this fast growing region" to access the company's services "faster, more conveniently and more efficiently". The preclinical services provider has been building up its global presence and the new Singapore site adds to a service network already represented in the US, Europe and Japan. Its goal in doing this is to have in place a global customer support network that will be available to its customers "at any time in any place in the world" by the end of 2008. Meanwhile, the new centre is one of several initiatives that Qiagen has been undertaking in Singapore of late, where the firm already now employs over 50 staff. In December 2007, the company opened DX Assay, a joint venture with Bio*One Capital, a biomedical sciences investment management company based in Singapore, whose focus is to support the growth of companies in Asia through their operations in Singapore. DX Assay develops molecular diagnostic tests which impact how diseases are detected and treated. In January, Qiagen was awarded an exclusive contract by the Singapore Ministry of Health to supply sample preparation solutions and molecular test kits for the detection of influenza H5N1 viruses (avian flu). Singapore is already a popular hub in the Asia-Pacific for biopharma firms and contract research organisations (CROs) to conduct their regional clinical development activities, but the country has been investing heavily in its biomedical sciences industry over the last six years in order to broaden its appeal, building up infrastructure, establishing cutting-edge technologies and developing manpower under a biomedical science (BMS) initiative that is earmarked to run for several more years. "The focus of this is to set up infrastructure for translational research, such as imaging and animal testing facilities, as well as training clinical scientists and putting in place 'lab to clinic' research programmes in oncology, cardiovascular disease, neuroscience, infectious diseases and optical medicine," Keat Chuan Yeoh, director of Biomedical Sciences Group at the Singapore Economic Development Board, told OutSourcing-Pharma.com in an earlier interview. "These are the areas that we believe Singapore has its strengths in and pose the biggest potential for regional market growth," he said. In addition, a new accreditation scheme for laboratory testing was also implemented by the Singapore Accreditation Council (SAC), in partnership with the College of American Pathologists (CAP). "This programme will enhance the capability and credibility of testing services provided by our local medical laboratories," said Yeoh, who added that Singapore is the first country to have such a programme with CAP.