Düsseldorf, Germany, 17–20 November 2010
This year, the world’s largest medical trade fair demonstrated that the medtech industry is surviving the recession and helping Europe’s healthcare systems to address their own clinical and economic challenges. Medica and its companion trade fair for the upstream supply market, ComPaMed, showed the industry harnessing new technologies to help healthcare providers work more efficiently and meet the complex needs of the increasing number of patients with long-term conditions.
For the first time in its 40-year history, Medica was attended by the German Chancellor. Angela Merkel opened the event on 17 November at Messe Düsseldorf. Her speech stressed the value of the medical sector for German exports and jobs: “Set against the background of its economic significance and demographic developments, it is important that this sector should be put in focus.”
The second day of the event saw a visit by Courtney Gregoire from the US Department of Commerce. On the third day Lord Darzi, UK Business Ambassador, discussed innovative solutions with UK suppliers and overseas purchasers.
Around 300 British firms were at Medica and ComPaMED, taking the opportunity to find customers and business partners throughout the world. Many of the companies were supported by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) and regional Medilink industry associations.
Making healthcare work
Of the 137,200 visitors to Medica 2010, over 70% are involved in making decisions about healthcare provision. They were able to consider innovative solutions from a record number of exhibitors: 4,400 companies from 64 nations showcased products and services for helping healthcare systems improve their efficiency and modernise their care pathways.
An important aspect of the event was its focus on the growing clinical role of interdisciplinary co-operation. Dr. Julia Rautenstrauch, Secretary General of the German Society for Interdisciplinary Medicine, commented on “the well-attended interdisciplinary congress seminars on such topics as the care of patients with several parallel conditions or complex symptoms like cancer.”
Another key theme was ‘process optimisation’: solutions designed to improve clinical workflow. A number of suppliers offered systems to increase the efficiency and flexibility of surgery – including ‘hybrid’ operating theatres that enable clinicians to combine imaging and surgical procedures, and computer-based support systems for planning, simulating and navigating operations.
New IT and communication technologies were much in evidence, including systems to enable smooth data flow between hospitals and outpatient clinics, and a rapidly increasing range of ‘mobile health’ applications for remote monitoring and transmission of vital signs.
A life science ambassador
Former Health Minister Lord Darzi visited Medica 2010 on the third day, describing himself as an ambassador for healthcare and life sciences. “We have some 300 companies here for exporting, and I am meeting with them, as well as with larger companies, such as Panasonic, who represent an inflow as investors interested in establishing operations in England,” he said.
Lord Darzi is a pioneer of robotic and minimally invasive surgery. His 2008 review of the NHS has influenced the clinical priorities of the present UK Department of Health.
At Medica 2010, Lord Darzi drew particular attention to the exhibition space devoted to biochemical assays. He commented: “The impact of molecular diagnostics will force a rethinking of the models of healthcare. There are tremendous opportunities in diagnostics for pre-emptive treatment, more personalised care and greater patient participation in that care.”
Reaching across the world
The Yorkshire Pavilion at Medica 2010 was run by Medilink Yorkshire & Humber (Y&H), which specialises in helping medtech SMEs to reach global markets.
Charlotte Fraser, International Manager at Medilink Y&H, said: “Medica is a fantastic platform for innovation, so it is great to see so many regional companies exhibiting their world-leading products at the exhibition.”
Companies bringing innovative products to the Yorkshire Pavilion included:
• Sidhil showcased the Independence Innov8, an acute hospital bed that combines practicality, infection control and ergonomics.
• Brenmoor displayed a new sample identification scanner and printer that copies patient information from a printed wristband onto a label.
• Harvard Healthcare attended Medica for the first time to exhibit its arthroscopic ‘keyhole’ surgery system for hip operations.
• Zilico showcased a hand-held product for real-time cervical cancer screening, cutting out weeks of waiting for results.
• Surgical Innovations promoted its ‘resposable’ range of instruments that combine disposable and reusable components.
• Anetic Aid demonstrated the potential of day surgical procedures to reduce waiting times and improve cost-efficiency.
• Forsite Diagnostics offered contract manufacture services for lateral flow assays to medical device companies.
• Park House Healthcare launched its ‘Park-lite’ range of aluminium hoists for patient lifting.
• Paxman Ltd sought distributors for its scalp cooling system to reduce hair loss during chemotherapy.
Prepared for opportunity
Medilink East Midlands, with support from the Healthcare and Bioscience iNet and East Midlands UKTI, supported a number of medtech companies to attend Medica 2010 with pre-visit briefings and onsite practical back-up.
Costa Philippou, the organisation’s Business Development Manager, commented: “Preparation and early planning are crucial to a successful exhibition. Most companies target potential buyers up to three months before a trip in order to fix appointments, because passing trade is highly unlikely to bring just the person you need to talk to.”
Lord Darzi met the East Midlands delegation. David Wright, MD of ViVO Smart Medical Devices, whose Pocket-Flow Children’s Asthma Spacer was launched at the event, said: “We have received a terrific response to the Pocket-Flow device from a number of international buyers. Lord Darzi was especially interested in our design and development processes, as well as the challenges we have overcome to launch the product into the NHS and international healthcare markets.”
Another Medilink East Midlands member at Medica 2010 was Savience Ltd, which supplies clinic management systems and touchscreen kiosk receptions to hospitals and GP surgeries. MD Roger Everitt remarked: “We were surprised by the very genuine interest from countries all over the world – from Saudi Arabia to Russia and China.”
Targeting the right customers
At ComPaMED (17–19 November), 575 exhibitors presented to 16,000 visitors a wide spectrum of technology and service solutions for the medical industry, from new materials and components to full contract manufacture.
“ComPaMED is a hard show to work,” said Michelle Dalton of Medilink West Midlands. “It’s a specialist trade show for the medical supply chain selling to product developers, designers and engineers, and there is a lot of competition amongst the exhibitors. You have to work for every lead by being disciplined and target prospects beforehand, work the stand by actively attracting customers in, and ensure you have dedicated enough time after the show to follow-up.”
The rewards of such hard work are shown by the success of silicone supplier Primasil, which this year converted an enquiry within two weeks of the show in Argentina. Caroline Herdman of Primasil commented: “The leads were strong this year, and it felt like there was money behind the enquiries, as opposed to last year when many enquiries came through with no capital to back the projects.”
Another West Midlands exhibitor, Nigel Harley of ML Electronics, noted the liveliness of the ComPaMED exhibition: “The lower volume but higher quality meant we had to work hard to keep our energy up between conversations, but it was worth it because those conversations are more likely to be converted to sales.”