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India on cusp of transformative era in MedTech; Make in India pushes growth

The transformation of India’s healthcare industry has the potential to accelerate tenfold, from $2.7 billion in 2022 to approximately $37 billion by 2030, as per a report by Boston Consulting Group (BCG). However, the over-reliance on imported medical devices, accounting for over 80% of the sector, poses challenges such as supply chain vulnerabilities and price fluctuations. The National Medical Devices Policy 2023 is a pivotal step towards reducing import dependency.

By incentivizing domestic manufacturing through tax breaks and subsidies, the policy creates a conducive environment for medical device production. Simultaneously, initiatives like the National Mission for a Healthy India, ‘Make in India’ and ‘Startup India’ are further catalysing growth. In 2021 alone, the Indian medical technology sector attracted an impressive US$1.5 billion in venture capital funding, signalling increased investor confidence.

Factors propelling indigenous innovation in India’s medical technology sector
India is on the cusp of a transformative era in medical technology, driven by a confluence of dynamic factors that are propelling the country towards self-sufficiency and global prominence in this critical sector. At the heart of this innovation wave lies India’s burgeoning pool of skilled engineers and scientists, whose expertise and passion are fuelling the development of cutting-edge solutions to address complex healthcare challenges. This robust talent pool is further enriched by a strong academic base, where academic institutions foster a vibrant culture of research and development, providing a ground for budding innovators to explore novel ideas.

The growing middle class in India, with its increased disposable income and heightened awareness of healthcare standards, is emerging as a significant force propelling indigenous innovation. This demographic segment’s demand for high-quality healthcare products and services has become a catalyst for innovators and entrepreneurs to develop solutions that not only meet but exceed international standards, reshaping the landscape of medical technology in the country. Further catalysing this innovation ecosystem, is the entrepreneurial spirit that is thriving in India with initiatives like the Startup India program.

Policymaking for innovation & capability development
To foster local innovation and build capabilities, the government must play a pivotal role by providing financial support for research and development, creating an innovation-friendly regulatory environment, fostering collaboration between industry, academia and the government and promoting the adoption of indigenous medical technology products and services.

Focus on high-quality Indian alternatives
Reducing reliance on imports requires a strategic focus on promoting high-quality Indian alternatives in medical technology. This can be achieved through the development of Indian standards for medical devices, providing incentives for domestic manufacturing and launching public awareness campaigns emphasizing the benefits of using indigenous medical devices.

Empowering India’s innovation ecosystem
To sustain this momentum, the government must continue playing a pivotal role in empowering the innovation ecosystem. This involves providing sustained financial support for research and development in medical technology. A robust regulatory environment which encourages experimentation and rewards innovation is equally crucial. Collaborative platforms, bridging industry, academia, and the government, will further enhance knowledge exchange and accelerate the pace of innovation. The adoption of indigenous medical technology products and services should be actively promoted to create a self-sustaining ecosystem.

Quality over quantity: A strategic shift
Reducing import dependency isn’t solely about increasing domestic production; it is about ensuring the production meets global standards. By establishing and adhering to rigorous standards, Indian medical technology can not only meet but exceed international benchmarks, thereby fostering trust and acceptance globally. Incentivizing Indian companies to manufacture medical devices domestically is a step towards creating a robust and competitive market that can rival multinational corporations.

A global vision: Making india the largest exporter
India’s ambition to become the largest exporter of medical devices aligns with its rich manufacturing base, skilled workforce, and a legacy of innovation. Developing a strong export strategy requires collaboration between government bodies and industry stakeholders. Creating a supportive ecosystem for medical device manufacturers involves streamlining export processes, ensuring quality standards compliance, and providing financial incentives for global market penetration. Actively promoting Indian medical devices in international markets, through trade shows, collaborations, and diplomatic efforts, will establish India as a reliable and innovative global partner.

In conclusion,India is on the brink of a transformative era in medical technology, poised to reduce import dependency and emerge as a global leader. The collaborative efforts of the government, industry, academia, and entrepreneurs are laying the foundation for sustainable growth. By prioritizing innovation, ensuring high-quality standards, fostering public awareness, and pursuing global leadership, India can shape a future where self-reliance in medical technology is not just a goal but a reality. As the world looks towards innovative solutions, India stands ready to contribute significantly, improving healthcare outcomes and positively impacting lives globally. FICCI blog

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