From Guangdong to Germany

A leading Chinese medical technology company has opened a dialysis equipment manufacturing plant in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

June 2020

To capitalize on Germany’s global reputation for high-quality products, Guangdong Biolight Meditech from China partnered with a German holding company on a 10-million-euro factory in Laage based in the northern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. It produces a key equipment for treating patients with kidney disease.

Together, they have opened a 10-million-euro factory in Laage, producing a key component to treat patients with kidney disease.

Based in Guangdong, Biolight is one of China’s top three medical equipment manufacturers of its sort, with some 1,000 staff and more than USD 100 million in annual revenue. Not content to limit itself to the Chinese market, the company has branched out and now sells to 130 countries.

But it’s still dwarfed by medical equipment giants like Philips and GE Healthcare, whose established reputations and billions in revenue give them a huge advantage in Western markets. To expand, Bio­light is focusing on less developed countries and smaller hospitals. “Above all, we want to be growing and international,” says Gary Wei, co-CEO of Biolight’s joint venture in Germany, which is called BM Bioscience Technology.

“There’s still room for growth in niche markets.” But initially Biolight encountered a roadblock: “Many customers believe ‘Made in China’ quality is so-so, or even worse,” says Wei. “Everything ‘Made in Germany’ has a good reputation.” That’s what brought Bio­light to Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. According to Gabriel Flemming, senior manager for healthcare at GTAI, Biolight is part of a growing trend.

“More Chinese companies are investing here to satisfy a demand in China for products ‘Made in Germany,’” Flemming says. Production facilities in Germany also give foreign firms a foothold in Europe’s largest medtech market.

Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong Province, is an important industrial and commercial location in China. © guifang jian

A growing market for dialysis

Although Biolight is best known for patient monitors, the company also makes dialysis machines and products and systems used to treat patients whose kidneys can no longer remove toxins from their blood. Around 1.4 million patients worldwide require regular dialysis – a 67-billion-euro market that is expected to grow. At the heart of the process are dialyzers – tubes containing tens of thousands of hollow fibers lined with microscopic holes that filter blood. As Biolight already sourced most of its dialyzer fiber from Germany, a joint venture seemed like a good fit. Biolight gains facilities near one of its main suppliers, and its dialyzers will be “Made in Germany” once they are certified. The German side, meanwhile, gets a direct partner in China, one of the world’s fastest-growing markets for dialysis products. “It’s new for us to work with a Chinese company in Germany,” says BM Bioscience’s other CEO, Jens Sieder.

Mecklenburg Masks

BM Bioscience Technology in the northern German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern has expanded its business to include anti-coronavirus face masks. The company, a joint venture founded in 2017 between a German medtech holding company and China’s Biolight Healthcare, says its multinational background could be a strength.

“Our Chinese joint venture partners have always been two to three months ahead of us in the crisis,” BM Bioscience Technology CEO Jens Sieder told regional TV network NDR. “Our idea was: let’s produce masks in Germany. Here we guarantee a very high quality.”

BM Biotechnology was initially founded to produce kidney dialysis machines but is now expanding its focus to include three-layered polypropylene, surgical face masks. The company’s website says that this orientation comes in response to the federal German government’s drive to increase national production of medical necessities such as masks.

BM hopes to make up to 3000 masks an hour when production is up and running at full speed.