Friday, December 7, 2012

WEALTH ' IS A CURSE '

What would you do with $100 million?

Knowing what you would do if you had a hundred million bucks will reveal your true self and what you value most, says HealthStats International CEO Ting Choon Meng,

 who has some 80 patents to his name and another new invention to tackle the scourge of diabetes. The iconoclast tells Susan Long how he's given it all away to improve the intellectual property landscape here.


 
Dr Ting on...
The one thing he wants to impart
I want to teach Singaporeans to mine their oilfields - which are not in the ground but in their brains - to create intellectual property. I've an idea for an Idea Bank, where anyone can deposit ideas. They get paid for it if it gets picked up. A team of technologists can take the idea, build on it and make a product out of it. The world is our licensee and we don't need a huge manufacturing base; we just need to be able to mine ideas, refine it and sell it.(<< Click Here) This is how we create a buzz of innovation so we don't have to go and build another casino.

What ails IP (intellectual property) here
In research institutes, the KPI (key performance indicator) tends to be filing patents. To them, IP equals patents and patents equals IP. This could not be further from the truth. Look at Coca-Cola. Its recipe, a trade secret, is kept inside the safe. Imagine if it filed a patent, the whole world would know what Coca-Cola is made of. You need an IP strategy, which means thinking of the business model, then working backwards to decide what to do - to file, not file, keep secret, brand, whatever.

The second thing about IP is that everybody thinks we file a patent, have a product we can sell, then protect it, enforce it and sue infringers. But that is a very low form of IP. The highest form is in the licensing of IP. That means I don't even need to make products; the IP is a product.

 
Only a GP Dr Ting HAS always defied convention, refusing to colour inside the lines. 

Patients with orthopaedic and cardiovascular problems waiting to see general practitioner Ting Choon Meng @ T&T Family Health Clinic in Kitchener Road, Singapore. They come from as far as Indonesia and Taiwan, based on word of mouth, to see the doctor known for his "engineering approach to clinical problems" and pioneering joint injection techniques. 

He is 53-year-old serial inventor who spends half his day seeing patients and the other half @ Health-Stats International @ New Industrial Road, which he co-founded in year 2000.



That’s HOPE.



Setting an intention – creating a strategy – keeping it simple – and taking LOT’S of action.

Curse of Riches .

SO HOW does it feel to be on the cusp of great riches?

" To me, it's a curse . You don't want to be bogged down every day thinking : 'What's happening to the financial market?' I have friends worth hundreds of millions who are unhappy and lonely and spend all day trying to manage their portfolios. Money is ood servant BUT a bad master." - Dr Ting Choon Meng. 

To pre-empt the problems untold wealth will bring, Dr Ting has given it away before he has it.

2008, Dr Ting C M set up a trust company Jian li (meaning "to build and benefit") to do good works and assigned all his shares to it. In the event HealthStats is sold, all the money goes to the trust, which will only pay him "a minimum sustenance income". he says he did this so he will not be "clouded by personal gain" or distracted from trying to take his technology worldwide in negotiating the sale. 

Dr Ting, a Buddhist, who believes in the adage ' love people, use money",  admits he is not impervious to nice things. he is a watch collector and a single malt whiskey aficionaldo who makes a signature sugar cane-smoked chicken dish and talks constantly of setting up a chef's table restaurant. Recently divorced witha daughter in medical school, he lives in a detached house in the north of Singapore with his parents and two siblings and drives a BMW 740 and aToyota Alphard.

But Dr Ting CM thinks everyone should plan - just as an academic exercise - what they would do if they had $100 million because it shows their "real raw self ".

"After giving yourself three months to buy, taste, drive whatever you want, at the end of it, what do you really want to do ?  Continue to live a life of debauchery ? or do you want to invest it and leave it for somebody else to spend it when you go (die) ?" 



What would you do with $100 million?

What would you do with $100 million?


MOST days, as early as 5.30am, a line snakes outside T&T Family Health Clinic in Kitchener Road. By 9am, there are about 30 patients with orthopaedic and cardiovascular problems waiting to see general practitioner Ting Choon Meng.


MOST days, as early as 5.30am, a line snakes outside T&T Family Health Clinic in Kitchener Road. By 9am, there are about 30 patients with orthopaedic and cardiovascular problems waiting to see general practitioner Ting Choon Meng.

They come from as far as Indonesia and Taiwan, based on word of mouth, to see the doc known for his "engineering approach to clinical problems" and pioneering joint injection techniques.

The 53-year-old serial inventor spends half his day seeing patients and the other half at HealthStats International at New Industrial Road, which he co-founded 12 years ago.

With more than 80 patents to his name, he is the creator of the BPro, a wristwatch that monitors a person's blood pressure throughout the day. In 2007, the device won a World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer award, which counts Google and PayPal among previous winners.

That year, he was offered US$300 million for HealthStats, but turned it down, to the chagrin of shareholders. There have since been other offers to the tune of US$800 million (S$982 million), but he is holding out for a partner with global reach to take his devices to the masses. Failing which, he is preparing for a listing in early 2014.

HealthStats, which has 50 staff and offices in Suzhou, Shanghai, London and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is about to unveil its next game changer - a non-invasive blood sugar monitoring device to tackle the looming scourge of diabetes. It is now undergoing trials to secure regulatory approvals.

His other claim to fame is suing the Ministry of Defence for knowingly infringing intellectual property (IP) by producing a mobile casualty station similar to his 2003 invention, The Swift, which can unfurl, Transformer-like, within minutes into an emergency room to treat up to 240 patients.

He has sold 10 of such patented stations to the Singapore Civil Defence Force and is in talks to license it to China, Brunei, Jordan and Taiwan. He will not say more beyond, "I'm a son of Singapore, making a stand that IP needs to be respected".

Only a GP

HE HAS always defied convention, refusing to colour inside the lines.

From young, he stood in for his seaman father, who was seldom home, while his seamstress mother toiled. By age 11, he was cooking, ironing and tutoring his four younger siblings. The Pearl's Hill Primary, Gan Eng Seng Secondary and National Junior College student was the only one in his family to qualify for the University of Singapore medical school.

But during his Officer Cadet School training, his right index finger got sliced off during bayonet sparring. While he healed, he was held back a year and became an NS drug aftercare officer, keeping track of 40 drug addicts, who taught him all about life at 19.

As a medical officer, he opted to go to Woodbridge Hospital and learnt clinical hypnosis, which he later used to repair tendons and set fractures in emergency surgeries. He had a natural affinity for the "mechanical aspects" of orthopaedics but stopped short at specialisation, opting for the "quiet life" of a GP.

In 1999, troubled by seeing patients who would shortly after die of a stroke or heart attack and feeling that "the disease was always one step ahead and I was behind", he started researching and tinkering after hours.

Together with co-founder and software engineer Chua Ngak Hwee, 51, he came up with a novel way of measuring central aortic pressure (the blood pressure near the heart) over 24 hours and a non-invasive technique of recording waveforms from the arteries via a wrist sensor.

It rocked the boat. But private investors, the medical fraternity and government officials alike snubbed him. When Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome) hit, he sold off his retirement nest egg of 10 condominiums in Malaysia and three of the four clinics in the private practice he had built up here to keep HealthStats afloat.

Cardiologists here boycotted his talks. "I've been told countless times I'm only a GP... Re-learning is uncomfortable," he concedes.
Economic Development Board officers asked him where he took the technology from, implying he copied it, and remarked: "You mean a Singaporean can do this?" Others took issue that he had no PhD, only a medical degree. And that his was a "local company, single product, with no track record".

"But you got to start somewhere, isn't it?" he fumes at the memory. "It's called colonisation of the mind." He lambasts the prevalent IBM mentality here, which denies home-grown technologies a chance.

"At the top, there's political will to revolutionise Singapore to become IP-based. At the bottom, people are hungry to tap the resources. But the centre rung is not incentivised to take risks. When buying a computer, they have to present to the board why they want to buy this brand, so they buy an IBM. If anything goes wrong, nothing to do with them; the IBM computer failed."

Singapore needs to bet on itself more. "All things being equal, we should get local brands. The Government should be the first and main customer of local enterprises, as in Japan and Germany," he advocates.

Today, he sits on many boards and committees within the National Research Foundation and Spring Singapore to help mine for the next big idea in life sciences and biotechnology to fund.

As someone who has done it himself, he sees his role as helping to pick up "raw diamonds that don't come shiny but can be honed". He looks past bumbling presentations and those who "don't say what you like to hear" to the possibilities beyond.

He wants to be the somebody he always wished would fight for him back then.

His best vindication today is when his detractors end up wearing his devices and ask for his help to interpret the results.

Today, all the hospitals here, including some clinics, widely use his wireless monitoring devices. Interest picked up after a 2011 study in the Journal Of The American College Of Cardiology concluded that his technology for calculating a person's central aortic pressure was a more accurate predictor of stroke and heart disease compared to the more invasive technique of inserting a tube directly into the aorta.

Recently, Britain signed up 10,000 patients for his wireless monitoring on a year-long pilot study, which will be followed by 100,000 over the next two years and three million patients in 2016.

In Chengdu, he has helped to design and build 30 screening booths to measure blood pressure and blood sugar levels in the villages. These are operated by a nurse and connected via Internet to the hospitals, which are deluged by outpatients with chronic illness.
The General Hospital of the Airforce of the People's Liberation Army in Beijing and its 300-over subsidiaries across China have also adopted his devices and the central pressure as the gold standard to screen, select and treat pilots.

Curse of riches

SO HOW does it feel to be on the cusp of great riches?

He says frankly: "To me, it's a curse. You don't want to be bogged down every day thinking: 'What's happening to the financial market?' I have friends worth hundreds of millions who are unhappy and lonely and spend all day trying to manage their portfolios. Money is a good servant but a bad master."

To pre-empt the problems untold wealth will bring, he has given it away before he has it.

Four years ago, he set up a trust company Jian Li (meaning "to build and benefit") to do good works and assigned all his shares to it. In the event HealthStats is sold, all the money goes to the trust, which will only pay him "a minimum sustenance income". He says he did this so he will not be "clouded by personal gain" or distracted from trying to take his technology worldwide in negotiating the sale.

The Buddhist, who believes in the adage "love people, use money", admits he is not impervious to nice things. He is a watch collector and a single malt whiskey aficionado who makes a signature sugar cane-smoked chicken dish and talks constantly of setting up a chef's table restaurant. Recently divorced with a daughter in medical school, he lives in a detached house in the north of Singapore with his parents and two siblings and drives a BMW 740 and a Toyota Alphard.
But he thinks everyone should plan - just as an academic exercise - what they would do if they had $100 million because it shows their "real raw self".

"After giving yourself three months to buy, taste, drive whatever you want, at the end of it, what do you really want to do? Continue to live a life of debauchery? Or do you want to invest it and leave it for somebody else to spend it when you go?"

As for him, he's decided to use his stash to improve the IP landscape in Singapore and fund scholarships.

For starters, Jian Li will help pay for Singapore Management University's new Singapore Patent Law school. For the past two years, he has committed $350,000 to sponsor 10 SMU and 20 Pioneer Junior College students from mostly poor families who show vast improvement in their grades and have a sense of social responsibility.

There is no scholarship bond but he makes them sign an undertaking to "pay it forward" when they reach 30 or are financially able to help other needy students. He is also looking into starting a social enterprise, possibly in regional eco-tourism.

The iconoclast hopes that how he's chosen to spend down his wealth will spur others to think harder about the real utility of money. Come what may, he intends to continue on with his GP practice.

It gives him the "mandate" to speak in front of other doctors, and his patients, in turn, give him fresh daily "inspiration" for new inventions.

suelong@sph.com.sg
Susan Long



Doctors claim Mindef infringed 'mobile clinic' patent

 Feb 08, 2012 .Two doctors are suing the PAP Government after alleging that the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) knowingly infringed their intellectual property by coming up with a mobile casualty station which they claim to have designed and patented. Dr Mak Koon Hou, a 50-year-old cardiologist, and Dr Ting Choon Meng, a 52-year-old general practitioner who is chairman and chief executive of medical devices company HealthStats International, claim that Mindef's mobile clinic infringes on their patent of a "mobile first aid post" in idea and design specifications.

Mindef has denied the allegations and is claiming that the doctors' patent is not valid as the mobile clinic is not new, involved "no inventive step" and was "not capable of industrial application".

The Straits Times reported that the doctors started work on the "Station With Immediate First-Aid Treatment", or Swift, medical station after the Sept 11, 2011 terrorists attacks in the United States.

They obtained local and international patents in 2005.

The 10-tonne truck opens up to become a resuscitation area equipped with surgical devices and lights, a suction system for removing blood, fluids and debris, and emergency life-saving devices.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force started using the vehicles in 2004 as it wanted a movable facility to stabilise casualties, prioritise treatment for victims and send them to the right place for treatment.

The doctors said SCDF paid them royalties for using their invention, which they say won praises from the United States Army and Singapore Technologies Kinetics.

Later, they formed MobileStats Technologies to market their mobile medical station.

MobileStats Technologies has issued a writ of summons against Mindef for infringing its Singapore patent. They are seeking damages and costs among other things.

Dr Ting told a local news source that they felt suing was the only way and that respect for intellectual property is very important.

The doctors also claim that they discussed the mobile station with officials over several meetings after Mindef approached them some years ago. However, nothing came out of it.

They told the Straits Times that they knew of Mindef's mobile casualty station after Mindef highlighted it in the run-up to National Day Parade in 2011 to improve its emergency response capabilities.

According to the English daily, Mindef's version has a ventilator, improved medical dressings to stop bleeding and an on-board water tank to wash wounds.

It can be sent to any emergency spot and be transformed into a medical clinic within 15 minutes. It can also treat up to 200 people for a variety of injuries.

When contacted, Mindef told The Straits Times that it is inappropriate for the ministry to make any statement as the court case is ongoing.http://news.asiaone.com/News/Latest%2BNews/Singapore/Story/A1Story20120208-326565.html


Click here to view photo  

http://news.asiaone.com/News/Latest%2BNews/Singapore/Story/A1Story20120208-326565.html



Doctors claim Mindef copied their ‘clinic on wheels’

Source: The Straits Times 7 February 2012
TWO doctors are suing the Government over a mobile emergency medical station they claim they designed and patented.
They say the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) knowingly infringed their intellectual property by producing a mobile casualty station similar to theirs.
They found out about this last year, after Mindef unveiled the mobile clinics it planned to use at the National Day Parade.
Mindef is contesting the case, and a hearing is scheduled before the High Court next week to determine whether the ministry can file a counterclaim.
Dr Mak Koon Hou, 50, a cardiologist in private practice, and Dr Ting Choon Meng, 52, a general practitioner who is chairman and chief executive officer of HealthStats International, a medical devices company, are represented by the legal firm Bih Li & Lee.
Their company, MobileStats Technologies, which markets their mobile medical station, has issued a writ of summons against Mindef for infringing its Singapore patent. Among other things, they are seeking damages and costs.
Mindef, represented by the law firm Wong & Leow LLC, is denying the allegations and claims in its defence that the doctors’ patent is not valid.
Its position is that the doctors’ so-called invention was not patentable because it was not new, involved ‘no inventive step’ and was ‘not capable of industrial application’.
Dr Ting and Dr Mak were national service medical platoon and deputy battalion commander respectively with the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) and started work on their mobile medical station after the Sept 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.
Their ‘Station With Immediate First-Aid Treatment’ – Swift – is essentially a 10-tonne truck that opens up to become a resuscitation area equipped with surgical devices and lights, a built-in suction system for removing blood, fluids and debris, and emergency life-saving devices.
The SCDF, which wanted a movable facility to immediately stabilise severe casualties, prioritise treatment for victims and send them to the right place for treatment, began using the vehicles in 2004.
The doctors say SCDF paid them royalties for using their invention, which they had designed from scratch.
They obtained local and international patents in 2005, and drew praise from the likes of the United States Army and Singapore Technologies Kinetics. Eight years ago, they formed MobileStats to market their mobile medical station.
They say that Mindef approached them some years ago and, over several meetings, they discussed their mobile station with officials and gave suggestions on how to improve it for use by the army. They then heard nothing more.
But in July last year, they read media reports that Mindef had a ‘mobile battalion casualty station’ that it was planning to use at the National Day Parade.
Mindef’s mobile clinic, mounted on a five-tonne truck, was among innovations highlighted by the ministry in the run-up to the parade to improve its response to emergencies.
There were to be three such stations on standby at the parade, ready to be sent to any emergency spot and transformed into a medical clinic within 15 minutes.
Each station, armed with a ventilator, improved medical dressings to stanch bleeding and an on-board water tank to wash wounds, could treat up to 200 people for a variety of injuries.
The doctors say this vehicle infringed their patent of a ‘mobile first aid post’, in idea and design specifications.
When contacted, Mindef’s director of public affairs, Colonel Desmond Tan, said: ‘As there is an ongoing court case on this matter, it is inappropriate for Mindef to make any statement at this juncture.’


Below is a public statement published in the ST Forum page on 13 Feb 2012:

It’s the vendor, not Mindef, who’s defending docs’ patent suit

WE REFER to last Tuesday’s report (‘Doctors claim Mindef copied their ‘clinic on wheels”).

The Ministry of Defence (Mindef) would like to clarify that the conduct of the defence of the suit by MobileStats Technologies against the Government is by Syntech Engineers (‘the vendor’), which supplied the mobile battalion casualty station (BCS) to Mindef.

Wong & Leow LLC, which is reported in the various media as representing Mindef, is appointed by the vendor.

The vendor was awarded a contract through an open tender to supply Mindef with a mobile BCS in June 2009.

The contract between the Government and the vendor provides, among other things, that the vendor shall indemnify the Government against any claim for actual or alleged infringement of any intellectual property right arising from the use or possession of the mobile BCS, including the conduct of litigation against any suit arising from such claims.

Colonel Desmond Tan
Director, Public Affairs
Mindef

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