MDA medical fairs bring in huge business opportunities

15:28 | 01/10/2018
The healthcare landscape is changing at an extreme speed and the growth opportunities driven by innovative healthcare technology are immense. Gernot Ringling, managing director of Messe Düsseldorf Asia—the organiser of leading medical fairs held recently—talked with VIR's Bich Thuy about the trends and developments in the industry and how Vietnamese firms can go international successfully.
mda medical fairs bring in huge business opportunities

As the largest exhibitions of their kind in the region, what are the highlights of Medical Fair Asia and Medical Manufacturing Asia 2018?

We are happy to share that the co-location of these two exhibitions, which took place from August 29-31 at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore, saw the largest staging to date, where more than 1,220 exhibitors from all over the world came together to showcase the best medical and healthcare solutions over three days. The exhibitions also welcomed 20,000 trade visitors, including visiting delegations and VIP buyers from Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

Medical Fair Asia, organised by Messe Düsseldorf Asia, is indeed the largest exhibition of its kind in the region that is dedicated to the medical and healthcare sector—specifically products, equipment, supplies, technology, and solutions for hospitals and the diagnostics, pharmaceutical, medical, and rehabilitation sectors. With a 21-year history and 12 editions under its belt, this year’s iteration welcomed 1,050 exhibitors from 62 countries and 23 national pavilions and country groups—nine of which were first-time participating countries. These nine country groups were Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, the European Union, Iran, the Philippines, Qatar, Russia, and Spain.

Some of the key highlights at Medical Fair Asia 2018 included:

- Community Care Pavilion—exhibits on geriatrics/rehabilitative equipment/orthopaedic products; Startup Park—dedicated showcase featuring startup companies with new prototypes, digital healthcare companies, as well as a platform for product pitches.

- Future 4 Health (FTR4H) Digital Health Lounge—a forward-thinking showcase highlighting companies in the field of digital health that demonstrated their latest capabilities and progressive technological innovations in mobile health (mHealth), Artificial Intelligence (AI), smart data, and IoT.

- The CYBATHLON showcase—a unique championship for people with disabilities competing in six disciplines, using advanced assistive devices including robotic technologies to solve everyday tasks. On show for the first-time at Medical Fair Asia were the two technologies Brain-Computer Interface technology and a powered stair-climbing wheelchair.

Medical Manufacturing Asia, which is jointly organised by Messe Düsseldorf Asia and Singapore Precision Engineering and Technology Association (SPETA), was focused on the MedTech (medical technology) sector. The exhibition saw a comprehensive showcase of manufacturing processes and components for MedTech, from materials, micro- and nano-technology to innovative testing systems. This year welcomed 170 exhibitors from 24 countries, and nine national pavilions and country groups from Austria, China, Europe, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore, and the USA. A key highlight in terms of concurrent programme line-up at the exhibition was the inaugural seminar ‘MedTech in Focus: Digitising the MedTech Industry,’ which was jointly organised by SPETA and Messe Düsseldorf Asia, and brought together industry experts, government representatives, academics, and trade professionals to discuss how digital technology is redefining modern manufacturing in the MedTech industry.

mda medical fairs bring in huge business opportunities
The previous Medical Fair Asia in Singapore

What regional industry trends and developments were reflected in your recent exhibitions? How have exhibitors benefited from your events?

As the region’s go-to medical and healthcare event, Medical Fair Asia prides itself on keeping abreast of industry trends and developments and ensures that it is reflective of industry demands and changes. This year’s focus on community care and new digital health applications and startup companies offering healthcare mobile apps are some good examples. Expanding on the Community Care zone—essentially a comprehensive platform focused on medical solutions for the silver generation and offering a full suite of geriatric medicine, products, and solutions such as rehabilitative equipment, mobility products using robotic technology, as well as assistive technology solutions.

The digital age of medicine is upon us. The healthcare landscape is changing rapidly and the growth opportunities driven by innovative healthcare technology, an ageing population, increasing chronic diseases, and empowered consumers are immense, thus making new models of healthcare delivery inevitable. On this note, it is imperative that Medical Fair Asia and Medical Manufacturing Asia as the leading exhibitions in the region mirror this evolving landscape. Medical Fair Asia has always been about staying ahead of the curve and reflecting the needs of the region’s medical and healthcare sectors and it is our goal to ensure that the exhibition continues to be seen as a must-attend event.

The number of Vietnamese medical device manufacturers who spend heavily on high-tech manufacturing to go international has increased significantly. As the world’s leading trade fair organisers, how can MDA help them better approach the international market?

There is certainly a growing economic shift and interest towards Asia, particularly Southeast Asian markets. As for Vietnamese companies aiming to do business on a world stage, perhaps the most crucial at this juncture is that companies must take a proactive approach and capture the business opportunities such trade events provide. For manufacturers looking to produce high-quality products and new export or international markets, our exhibitions provide the global connection.

The MedTech sector is different from many other sectors in that there are high barriers to entry at many stages of its value chain. At the research and development stage, high barriers to entry arise due to long development timelines and strict regulations which are necessary to safeguard the testing of new devices, as well as the need to navigate the patents and intellectual property rights space. Meanwhile at the production stage, there are high barriers to entry arising from the need for highly specialised equipment to deliver the levels of precision required in the manufacturing process .

Therefore, exhibitions like Medical Manufacturing Asia offer an ideal platform for companies specialising in medical manufacturing technology, precision engineering processes, and the like, to come together to do business.

Vietnam is now an attractive destination to foreign players who are seeking business opportunities. Do you have any plans to organise such a large-scale international event in Vietnam in the coming months?

Vietnam is indeed gaining recognition on the global stage and international marketplace to do business, and Vietnamese companies are also gaining more and more recognition. As the country is poised to become a developed nation by 2020 and continues to be a strong open economy with trade flows of $340 billion and a foreign direct investment sector that accounts for approximately 22 per cent of its economy, coupled with a large population—half of which are under the age of thirty—all this come together to create an extremely dynamic and evolving business environment in Vietnam.

For Messe Düsseldorf Asia, our full portfolio of trade fairs in the Southeast Asian region include Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam, and cover a range of industries and sectors and is set against the region’s impressive industry growth. Each of our trade fairs bring new technology, innovations, solutions, and know-how to the forefront, and provide a vital platform to the progression and development of the industries the firm serves—from medical to packaging and printing, as well as being able to attract an impressive exhibitor and visitor base that is largely international. For our manufacturing-based exhibitions, for instance, we had and continue to have a strong presence in Thailand which continues to be our main focus, and as the gateway to Southeast Asia, we continue to leverage the proximity it has with countries like Vietnam and other developing economies such as Cambodia and Laos.

Recognising Vietnam as a high-potential nation with a fast urbanisation rate and an emerging middle class and its growing reputation as a new manufacturing alternative to China and India, we will continue to work closely with our Vietnamese representative offices across all of our trade fairs. As a trade fair organiser, we are constantly on the lookout for high-potential markets to leverage upon, and at opportune moments.

In fact, we recently expanded our Vietnamese portfolio in the area of plastics and rubber, to now include the city of Hanoi—so the International Plastics and Rubber Technologies and Materials Exhibition (Plastics & Rubber Vietnam), will now be on an annual cycle alternating between Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Amidst the positive economic outlook and strong demand in the plastics and rubber sectors from northern Vietnam, together with our joint organisers UBM VES (a member of UBM Asia)—we outlined a move to organise Plastics & Rubber Vietnam alternating between Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi on an annual basis. Plastics and Rubber Hanoi will take place from November 27-29, 2019.

Asia proves to be a potential market for companies. The MedTech market in Asia will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 8 per cent, overtaking the European Union as the second largest market globally by 2020. What are MDA’s future plans for the market?

In view of the dynamic MedTech industry and Singapore’s strategic position as a MedTech Hub, we look forward to growing our presence and reach on the medical and healthcare scene through Medical Manufacturing Asia and Medical Fair Asia. We will continue working with the industry and our partner for Medical Manufacturing Asia, SPETA, to provide a business platform for manufacturers and developers to share their expertise and improve capabilities, expand capacities, and stay ahead with the latest technologies in order to compete globally under heightened manufacturing quality standards.

On this note, Medical Fair Thailand, which will take place from September 11 to 13, 2019 in Bangkok, with its proximity to Vietnam provides an ideal platform for Vietnamese companies in the medical and healthcare sector to find business opportunities.

For the first time, the exhibition, which will be its largest staging to date, will be held at BITEC (Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Centre) as it is relocated from its previous venue at QSNCC. Similar to Medical Fair Asia, Medical Fair Thailand will also carry forth the Community Care Pavilion, Startup Park concepts, as well as introduce for the first time the MedTech Pavilion. The introduction of the MedTech Pavilion at Medical Fair Thailand is reflective of Thailand and the region’s growth potential.

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By Bich Thuy

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