More collaboration needed to grow medical technology industry: Koh Poh Koon

Dr Koh Poh Koon taking part in a hands-on demonstration of a surgical equipment.
Dr Koh Poh Koon taking part in a hands-on demonstration of a surgical equipment.PHOTO: MESSE DUSSELDORF ASIA

SINGAPORE - Companies need to work together to grow the medical technology industry, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Dr Koh Poh Koon said on Wednesday (Aug 29).

He was speaking at the Medical Fair Asia 2018 and Medical Manufacturing Asia 2018, two exhibitions being held at Marina Bay Sands that showcase innovations and technology from 1,220 exhibitors from 62 countries.

"There is a growing trend of medical technology (MedTech) companies moving up the value chain, from the initial manufacturing and value engineering activities towards the establishment of process development and end-to-end product design and development alongside manufacturing activities," Dr Koh said in his opening speech.

"Increasingly, new approaches to innovation in the MedTech sector will require greater collaboration among companies, universities, trade associations and chambers as well as the Government."

He added that the MedTech sector is increasingly important in Asia, with the region's MedTech market expected to grow 8 per cent year-on-year.

"Asia, with its growing economy and population, provides an opportunity for forward-looking MedTech organisations to innovate and develop cost-effective solutions to address the region's healthcare needs," he said.

In 2016, Singapore's MedTech manufacturing sector generated S$11.5 billion, a more than sixfold increase from 2000, while its workforce grew threefold over the same period, to 13,900.

MedTech companies in Singapore make products ranging from contact lenses and pacemakers to life science tools and diagnostics equipment. Singapore also has global leadership positions in the area of scientific instrument manufacturing

Singapore hosts more than 60 multinational MedTech companies that undertake activities from regional headquarters and manufacturing to research and development.

Dr Koh urged such firms to collaborate, adding: "An example is the collaboration between GE Healthcare and Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). They have co-developed innovative medical technologies for significantly quicker digital PET or CT scans, and data analytics for improved decision-making in the treatment of strokes.

"The technologies have resulted in better patient outcomes, and the partnership continues to provide tangible benefits for Singapore's research, innovation and enterprise and healthcare systems."

Dr Koh opened both exhibitions, which have been organised by service exhibition organising firm Messe Düsseldorf Asia and the Singapore Precision Engineering and Technology Association (SPETA).

They will last until Aug 31 and are open to trade professionals and those in the medical and healthcare sector. Admission is free.

The exhibitions are expected to host delegations from around the region such as industry professionals from hospitals, medical centres, nursing homes, industry associations and educational institutions.

Correction note: This article has been edited for clarity.