At AdvaMed 2012 earlier this month, we had the chance to sit down with government representatives from three different countries, each with different geographic and economic backgrounds. Speaking to each of them gave me a chance to see 1) How regulatory and academic environments differ between the US and foreign countries, and 2) How national government can work with academic and medical technology industries to spur innovation.
We first had the chance to sit down with Declan McAree, VP of Medical Technologies at IDA Ireland. Mr. McAree described how, with the highest concentration of medical device businesses anywhere in the world outside of the U.S., Ireland has quickly become a “hot spot” for the med tech industry. Medtech players ranging from Zimmer to Boston Scientific to Stryker have sought to expand their worldwide presence through operations in Ireland, home to 150 medical device companies both large and small. Part of the reason for this is Ireland’s regulatory requirements, which allow for rapid development and expansion of companies. Tax incentives and partnerships between government and academia, such as Science Foundation Ireland, are other reasons for considering Ireland. Ultimately, Mr. McAree described to us the “4 T’s” of why Ireland is an ideal operating location for medtech entrepreneurs:
- Track Record of success with multinational and smaller scale medtech companies
- Talent of key engineers and scientists
- Tax regulations that enable successful development and expansion of business while still ensuring device quality
- Technology that is top of the line.
Check out a few key statistics about medtech in Ireland…
We next spoke with Victor Merced, Life Sciences Director of the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company (PRIDCO). Already home to 35 major medical manufacturing operations including Pfizer, Merck and Astra Zeneca, Puerto Rico’s medical device sector continues to grow, producing a total of $50 billion in biomedical exports each year. Victor and his representatives stressed to us that Puerto Rico, being an unincorporated territory of the U.S., has the advantage of FDA oversight, ensuring high quality of devices produced, while enjoying a competitive tax environment including a 4% income tax. Furthermore, collaboration between government, manufacturing, and research exists in the form of the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust, which was created in 2004 to act as an agent to promote financial and industrial investments and to support research, science and technology developments.
On a side note, PRIDCO was holding a drawing for a free bottle of Puerto Rican rum, making it automatically one of our favorite organizations to speak with at Advamed.
Finally, we had the chance to speak with representatives from Thailand’s Board of Investment. The medical device market in Thailand is estimated at US $948 million in 2012 (Growth rate 9% from 2011) and projected at US $1,227 million in 2015. For the past several years, it has been expanding around 10 percent annually. The representatives informed me that a growing medical device industry in Thailand is attracting companies like Siemens and Covidien, who are looking to leverage the country’s extensive R&D infrastructure, as well as its strategic location at the center of the Asian market. In fact, Thailand’s medical equipment and supplies market is expected to grow 20% this year alone. Thailand’s biodiversity, R&D programs, and strict intellectual property laws give the country a comparative advantage for significant public and private investments.
Furthermore, facilities like the 80 acre Thailand Science Park, which employs 1,600 full-time researchers and technicians, collaborates with companies like Covidien, as well as hospitals and universities that graduate more than 18,000 engineers and 87,000 science and technology students each year.
Lastly, another indicator suggesting positive trends in the medical devices industry in Thailand is the success of Medical Fair Thailand, held in Bangkok every 2 years. Medical Fair Thailand 2011 was a source of strong business opportunities for the 328 exhibiting companies. A total of about 5,500 visitors, up by an impressive 50%, reviewed the latest innovations and technologies from the medical and health care sectors.
The representatives noted that with 1,400 hospitals and a burgeoning medical tourism industry that welcomes more than 2 million foreign patients annually, Thailand’s domestic market is prime for future investment.
Overall, we had an amazing time speaking to company, government, and academic representatives at AdvaMed 2012. It is truly a great conference if you are interested in medical technology or entrepreneurship. We will see you at AdvaMed 2013!
Previous coverage: AdvaMed 2012 Part I: Company Interviews