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Is India on the brink of a brand new MedTech Revolution?

March 2024 marked a significant milestone for Medtronic, headquartered in Dublin, Ireland. They unveiled plans to invest a substantial USD 350 million in developing the Medtronic Engineering & Innovation Center in Hyderabad, slated to be one of the largest research and development facilities outside of the US.

The investment’s primary focus lies in driving innovation in surgical and implantable technologies, robotics, as well as advancements in imaging and navigation systems. This move is expected to pioneer groundbreaking solutions that enhance patient outcomes and revolutionize healthcare practices. Concurrently, Omron Healthcare Japan, announced in May its intention to establish a medical device manufacturing plant in Tamil Nadu, with an investment of USD 15.5 million.

These strategic moves beg the question: Are we witnessing the genesis of a new era in India’s MedTech revolution?

With a strategic focus on indigenous intellectual property (IP) development, a diagnostic-first approach, and robust government support, India is on the cusp of revolutionizing healthcare delivery not only domestically but also on a global scale.

The Indian government has prioritized the medical devices sector under the Make in India initiative, and is dedicated to enhancing the manufacturing ecosystem. India ranks as the fourth-largest medical device market in Asia. While the country currently heavily relies on imports, there has been a notable surge in exports recently. The Atmanirbhar Bharat mission aims to bolster India’s aspiration of becoming a global manufacturing hub for medical devices. Recent initiatives, such as the Production Linked Incentive Scheme (PLI), the Promotion of Medical Devices Parks Scheme, the 2023 Medical Devices Policy, the creation of the Export Promotion Council for Medical Devices, along with schemes like the Promotion of Research and Innovation in the Pharma MedTech Sector (PRIP) and the Assistance for Medical Devices Clusters for Common Facilities (AMD-CF), highlight this commitment. These initiatives are designed to incentivize large-scale manufacturing and develop essential infrastructure for establishing manufacturing clusters within India.

The country boasts massive organizations driving innovation and manufacturing excellence, thereby securing a substantial market share in the global MedTech arena. What was once a deficit in indigenous IP is swiftly evolving, with trailblazing companies, such as medical-devices manufacturer SMI and biotech pioneer Lamar Biotech leading the charge, showcasing deep-tech portfolios that are setting new benchmarks for the industry.

Initiatives like the IKP Knowledge Park in Hyderabad, Association of Indian Medical Devices Industry (AiMED), and Andhra MedTech Zone (AMTZ) are pivotal in facilitating the export of medical devices to various countries, bolstering India’s reputation as a preferred destination for MedTech manufacturing and exports.

Additionally, India’s MedTech revolution hinges significantly on its commitment to fostering indigenous IP. While progress is evident, there are areas where government policies and investments can further catalyze India’s MedTech revolution. Regulatory frameworks must evolve in tandem with innovation to ensure patient safety and the efficacy of medical devices. Import policies should incentivize indigenous innovation, fostering a thriving ecosystem of homegrown solutions.

Moreover, government spending on research infrastructure and educational institutions is paramount. Initiatives like setting up world-class laboratories in collaboration with institutions like IIT Bombay and CCMB and the network of CSIR labs in the country can provide the necessary impetus for groundbreaking research and development.

To sustain growth and foster trust in Indian MedTech products, stringent quality standards and regulations are imperative. Bodies like the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), Quality Council of India (QCI), and the Department of Science and Technology (DST) play a pivotal role in setting and enforcing these standards.

With a population exceeding 1.4 billion and a burgeoning ecosystem of innovators and entrepreneurs, India stands ready not only to address its healthcare challenges but also to lead the world in revolutionizing diagnostics and improving public health outcomes for millions globally.

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