THE SILICON VALLEY OF THE EAST
As part of the mushrooming BMS, Singapore has been promoting the medical technology industry. Medtech's shorter gestation
period and faster growth than the pharma industry has proven increasingly attractive.
"Having catalyzed and built capabilities in the private sector R&D, Bio*One now focuses on later stage companies with products,"
says EDBI's President and CEO, Swee Yeok Chu, citing medical device companies that are looking to expand into Asian markets
as prime examples.
According to the EDB, the medtech industry almost tripled its manufacturing output from SGD 1.5 billion (USD 1.2 billion)
in 2000 to about SGD 4.3 billion (USD 3.5 billion) in 2011. The 2015 target is SGD 5 billion (USD 4.1 billion).
Money Where the Mouth is: Are Asians Investing in Start-ups?
Profitability is spurred by big goals: medtechs aim to propel innovation, contribute to providing more patient-centric solutions
and, according to the president of Life Technologies for Asia Pacific and Japan, Mark Smedley, to democratize science.
"We believe tools are what fundamentally drive innovation," says Smedley, who compares their "Ion Proton," genome sequencer
to Galileo's telescope. It took a tool, the telescope, to transform Copernicus' theory into science.
Asia: Medtech Mecca
The medtech mantra is converting growth into opportunity. Growth for the medtech industry in Asia is a given, according to
Bhuller. China shows 20 to 22 percent annual growth while other Asian countries are growing between 10 to 14 percent.
Thomas Dunlap, President & CEO HOYA Surgical Optics
"The challenge is how" fast you can restore your basic operations that can support sustainable growth," says GE's Healthcare
president of ASEAN, David Utama.
To build the foundation and keep in line with access, one of the three pillars of its "Healthymagination" campaign, GE has
developed a novel approach to alleviate financing of their products.
"Normally the challenge for healthcare practitioners is not cash flow, because they have a good base of operations. The challenge
is buying for the first time," explains Utama, who has facilitated working with one of the largest public banks in Indonesia
to issue credit cards with low interest options.
Made in Singapore Brand
For companies like Becton Dickinson (BD), Indonesia is the fastest growing market in the ASEAN region. May Kwai Cheong, BD's
Vice President of Central Asia, believes that "as the government and even the private sector increase access, there will always
be growth opportunities."
Companies are scrambling to deflate the rising cost pressure that this broadening access surge will create. Cheong says that
in order to continue growth, their main challenge will be coming up with "market appropriate products" for the emerging markets,
which BD is doing in stages.
"As the region is so diverse, we have a different strategy for each market," says Cheong. "For every country that we consider
as high potential, we work with consultants and then internally develop a strategic plan for the respective market, which
takes us around 3 to 6 months to design the plan before we execute it."
LKF Plant in China
Medtechs have had another recent insight—retrofitting products from the US or Europe does not work. This is true particularly
in emerging markets where, according to Kulbir Sandhu, the executive director of Greatbatch's future Active Implantable Medical
Device (AIMD) R&D Center, "patient psychology, clinical practise, price point, regulatory compliance and reimbursements" are
With its first foray into Asia Pacific and also Singapore's first AIMD center, Greatbatch, a US-based component supplier for
implantables, will be "looking for the clinical opportunity, assessing and understanding what the clinical need is, and based
on that we will define and design products (cardiovascular, neuromodulation and orthopaedics) out of this new R&D center,"