For the first time since the corona pandemic hit Germany, the world’s leading medical technology trade fair, Medica, is returning as a live event on November 15. GTAI expert Gabriel Flemming talks about what has changed in the sector since March 2020.
What are some of the new trends you see in the medical technology industry?
In Germany, the focus is increasingly on the potential for digitalizing health care. At the height of the pandemic, the German government passed legislation worth billions to get Germany’s hospitals ready for the future. They’ll be receiving more than EUR 4 billion in additional financing. One particular focus is on instituting nationwide digitalization standards, for example in emergency rooms and telematics internally and between hospitals.
What are Germany’s particular areas of specialization?
The German medical technology sector has a very broad base in innovation and production. There are more than 40 active German cluster networks, half of which have the EU’s seal of quality approval. Endoscopy, laparoscopy, surgical instruments and medical imaging are some of the most established areas and biggest success stories in Germany.
Medical robotics ad telemedicine have also been hot topics during the pandemic. What’s the story with those areas in Germany?
Many startups that seek to maximize the advantages of minimally invasive surgery using surgical robotics are successfully growing. For example, Avatera Medical from the city of Jena increased its financing to EUR 250 million in 2021 and was able to get its robotics technology CE certified. Such systems are being increasingly used, and research institutes are constantly partnering with industry to push innovation. I’m thinking of the Fraunhofer Group or DLR, which was able in 2016 to license its robotics technology MEDI SURG to US company Medtronic.
What advantages does Germany offer to international companies setting up shop here?
Germany is the largest market for medical technology in Europe. It also leads the way in medical equipment with 1914 hospitals and 494,000 beds. Manufacturers of established, CE-certified products can access this market easily and quickly.
What about the hurdles? What do companies need to do to master the challenges?
Innovative products that push the boundaries of current technology often need to undergo additional clinical testing to show that they truly benefit patients. In order to ensure that insurance companies cover the costs of such products, manufacturers in Germany frequently enlist specialized business consultants to optimize their cost-reimbursement strategies. This is a classic aspect international manufacturers need to take account of.