Asia Pacific’s Healthcare Technologies Ecosystem: Enhancing start-up and SME success

March 16, 2022


Asia Pacific’s Healthcare Technologies Ecosystem: Enhancing start-up and SME success

March 16, 2022

Gerard Dunleavy

Senior Consultant, Economist Impact, Health Policy Team

Gerard is a Senior Consultant with Economist Impact’s Health Policy team. He manages global engagements with international clients in the healthcare sector, from conceptualising to delivering and executing customised research projects. He manages multidisciplinary teams, conducting quantitative and qualitative analyses across various disease areas and health policies.
Prior to joining Economist Impact, Gerard worked in academic settings specialising in evidence-based synthesis and epidemiological studies. He holds a PhD in Public Health and Epidemiology and a Masters degree in Health Education and Promotion, both from Maastricht University.

‘Asia Pacific’s Healthcare Technologies Ecosystem: Enhancing start-up and SME success’ is a whitepaper, written by Economist Impact, and commissioned by Medtronic in support of the EDB. The report details the current state of the Health and Medical Technologies (MedTech) sector in the Asia Pacific region, identifies the challenges for early-stage start-ups and small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs), and considers steps that can be taken to support this strategically important and growing market. 

The report is based on a quantitative survey of 150 executives, including C-suite and board members, from MedTech companies across 15 markets in the Asia-Pacific region, and the insights are supplemented by qualitative interviews with six healthcare leaders in the region. 

  • Finding the right talent is the most significant challenge for the healthcare technology sector. Most respondents (84%) agree or strongly agree that talent recruitment is the most significant challenge for early-stage start-ups. Support with recruitment and upskilling also ranked as the most important type of support start-ups/SMEs need to reach their next strategic milestone. Whether that support comes from government or private organisation programmes, or a mixture of both, strategies and pathways to attract talented graduates and executives to the healthcare technology sector are needed to support future growth.
  • A more cohesive partnership and collaboration ecosystem needs to be developed with greater integration across multiple stakeholders. Over 75% of respondents identified partnerships and collaborations with government, industry, and other technology innovators as a significant challenge for early-stage startups, ranking it third highest of all challenges. A further 65% rated the role of partnerships with health system stakeholders like industry groups, government and other companies as very important to their organisation’s success. Healthcare technology requires cross-domain collaborations and building support networks that facilitate collaboration could have a sizeable impact on innovation.

  • Government support is identified as a critical factor to foster healthcare technology sector innovation. Almost 40% of respondents identify better government support as the highest-ranked factor that would best support innovation in the market. Considering their own organisation’s trajectory, 29% of executives view government support targeted towards innovation or start-ups as the third most critical factor to help their organisation reach its next strategic milestone.

  • There is a gap between the patient/disease pathways that healthcare technology companies are investing in, and what they believe are the greatest unmet patient/disease needs. This could be from a lack of information sharing, whether between private and public sectors or within the sectors themselves, that distorts market signals, or perhaps the comparative profitability of sectors. Any market failure like this indicates a need for government intervention, while private companies could also collaborate on how to improve information sharing. 

  • The covid-19 pandemic has removed multiple institutional and cultural barriers to adoption of digital solutions in the healthcare technology setting, although some remain. Digitisation has grown far more rapidly than was previously thought possible and ushered in an acceptance of remote medical products and services, and alternative care models. It has fostered greater industry innovation—while 35% of respondents said the pandemic had resulted in the stagnation or demise of an idea, 55% said that it had enabled innovative ideas to come to fruition.

  • Data security should be a future focus for healthcare technology companies. Data security is a global and inter-sectoral issue, and over 45% of respondents ranked data security as the most significant barrier to the delivery of patient healthcare. Despite the magnitude of the challenge, data security could prove to be a lucrative opportunity for existing companies or those considering entering the healthcare technology sector.

Economist Impact would like to thank the participants of the survey and the interviewees who generously offered their time and insights, in particular:

  • Lalitha Bhaskara, Vice President, SAP.iO Foundries Asia Pacific Japan & China

  • Dr Keren Priyadarshini, Regional Business Lead, Worldwide Health,Microsoft Asia

  • Jean-Luc Butel, Board Member, Novo A/S, Rani Therapeutics, Takeda Pharmaceutical, SGInnovate, and former Executive Vice-President, Group President International Medtronic

  • Bronwyn Le Grice, CEO and Managing Director, Australian digital health commercialisation organisation, ANDHealth

In addition, Economist Impact would like to thank the following contributors who shared knowledge and insights and provided additional context to the findings:

  • Dr Loke Wai Chiong, Head (Integrated Health Promotion), Clinical Director (Programmes), MOH Office for Healthcare Transformation

  • Jonathan Ley, Assistant Director of InHealth and Finance Redesign, MOH Office for Healthcare Transformation

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