For a medical technology manufacturer, expanding into the Asian market can be decidedly daunting. You need to find R&D resources, build and staff a manufacturing facility, and develop a sales organization. And that doesn’t count all of the regulatory red tape you’ll have to manage. Typically all of this is done piecemeal, with global firms establishing outposts scattered throughout the continent. Managing all of this can be a logistical nightmare, which is why it can often take years for an Asian expansion to become profitable.
But what if there was one location where you could base all of these functions, thanks to a deep talent pool and a progressive environment designed to support medical technology manufacturing? There is – in Singapore, where manufacturers have those factors and more. For Western medical technology firms looking to grow in Asia, it’s the ideal place to be.
Asia-Pacific’s medical technology sector is downright monstrous. By 2020, McKinsey expects it to hit US$133 billion in size, growing from an already massive US$88 billion in 2015 to become the second-largest medical technology market in the world. Why such breakneck growth? Because of numerous factors the region is now facing: An aging (and massive) population – Asia Pacific is home to more than half the world’s population -- with more access to healthcare than ever, combined with a medical industry that’s undergoing significant upheaval as it rapidly modernizes.
But there are significant differences between the medical worlds in Asia and the West. Hospitals and doctors, for example, operate differently here than they do in Europe or North America. Even the patients tend to present distinct conditions that require different means of treatment. It can take years for a Western medical technology firm to understand the intricacies of this region well enough to succeed.
It’s those differences – and Singapore’s talent, infrastructure, and technological advantages – that have led numerous Western firms to establish presences in Singapore, a small country with an outsized influence on the region’s medical technology industry.