The MedTech ecosystem is changing, and rapid technological advancements are opening new avenues for progress in the healthcare industry. Meaningful innovation can take many forms, such as a novel approach to making a product useful to applying a growing technology to a real-world problem. In this scenario, investing in research and development (R&D) acquires greater significance as it is focused on transformative innovation to develop breakthrough solutions or products to solve unmet market demands.
At present, India’s R&D spending in Medtech is around 0.6 percent of GDP, which is considerably below industrialized countries like the United States, which spends 2.8 percent or China 2.1 percent, and Israel 4.3 percent. While India’s “Make in India” story grows, the need is to develop a research ecosystem that attracts investment from both domestic and international businesses. It’s interesting to note how the Government is already taking initiatives to encourage innovation, such as announcing a five-year investment of Rs 50,000 crore in the National Research Fund. Such actions could pave the way for India to become an R&D and innovation center, given the pressing need to strengthen our R&D skills.
During the pandemic, increased demand for pharmaceuticals and medicine, and the expectation of being able to pronounce them on time, put a strain on pharma supply networks. However, it has also brought opportunities in the medical technology sector. India’s medical device exports are estimated to reach $10 billion by 2025, and the domestic industry will need to work in unison with international investments to achieve this. The Indian Medtech industry has raised the bar by utilising AI/ML machinery in manufacturing, importing and exporting. The healthcare industry’s culture of innovation has led to the incorporation of more technology and equipment into healthcare delivery models.
Over the previous three years, this sunrise sector has grown at a 15 percent compound annual growth rate. The startup ecosystem in India’s medical devices sector, which includes more than 250 organisations working on innovations, is also working for India. The medical devices market in India has the potential to grow at a 37 per cent compound annual growth rate (CAGR), reaching $50 billion by 2025. In fact, the Global Innovation Index has India placed first in the Central and South Asian region.
Sufficient policy encouragement and protection are required to attract increasing investment from private companies in R&D. The Government is working to reduce its reliance on imports and make healthcare more accessible by building medical parks and teaming with business and academia. India has created medical device manufacturing clusters, designated industrial parks for low-cost local production. The Government also approved a $674.36 million proposal to develop a Medical Devices Park in Himachal Pradesh in 2021.
India is transforming into a global R&D hub as a result of its market size and availability. As envisioned in the advance paper to National Medical Devices Policy 2022, the Government is forging a new road for the accessibility of medical devices by placing the industry on accelerated growth. These advancements would boost India’s local and international MedTech value, as it is already one of the top 20 medical device markets in the World.
While the figures are encouraging, industry needs more than PLI schemes to encourage multinational medical device companies to manufacture in India to receive a 5-7 per cent incentive on earnings generated from those devices, as India still relies 70% on imports for medical devices. The reliance on imports creates an opportunity for the crisis in a country like India, where MedTech blends large multinationals with small and midsized businesses. To strengthen the Indian MedTech market, it is necessary to address the fundamentals, such as increasing resilience to future contagions, self-reliance, and the ability to handle large patient volumes without sacrificing quality; enabling broader access to care and focusing on prevention with improved diagnostics, higher imaging intelligence, and reduced radiation risk; and enabling broader access to care and focusing on prevention with enhanced diagnostics, higher imaging intelligence, and reduced radiation risk.
India has all of the necessary elements for the exponential growth of HealthTech and MedTech, including a large population, a strong pharmaceutical and medical supply chain, and a regulatory environment that encourages startups to invest in the healthcare sector. Indeed, Indian Medtech industry will be responsible for the next wave of healthcare innovations globally.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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