DUSSELDORF, — Although it has made good strides in medical technology, Malaysia will, however, need to intensify its research and development (R&D) activities to stay ahead of competitors, particularly from its direct Southeast Asian neighbourhood.

Indeed, the presence of large contingents of Southeast Asian exhibitors of medical devices, tools and other accessories at the recent MEDICA 2017 exhibitors in Dusseldorf � this is the world’s largest exhibition for these products � was an indication that competition will get fiercer with time.

The MEDICA, held Nov 13 to 16, has also become a barometer to measure the innovativeness of international companies in the field of medical technology.

Innovations showcased at this exhibition also become a source of windfall business for companies and the countries they represent, Arnold Schweitzer, a medical consultant who is aware of the products coming from the Asia Pacific region, told Bernama.

According to the German Medical Technology Association BVMed, the medical technology industry expects to see an increase of almost six per cent in its global turnover, and this will be driven by dynamic developments in the export market.

The domestic German sector, despite its modest 2.8 per cent growth, is forecast to generate an overall turnover of 30.6 billion euros. These are the outcomes of the latest survey of 106 German and foreign manufacturers.

During the MEDICA, the trade associations SPECTARIS and ZVEI also confirmed that their member companies were experiencing far more growth in export business than they were in comparison to domestic demand.

Malaysia needs to beef up its efforts to assert itself in the major markets of the world for medical technology because ASEAN countries such as Singapore, Thailand and, to a less extent, Vietnam are also aggressively competing to get a slice of the global pie for medical technological products.

A striking feature of Malaysia’s participation at the MEDICA 2017, was the fact that all the 33 Malaysian exhibitors participated on their own without any official assistance or subsidy to participate.

Being an export-oriented economy, Malaysia can only benefit from such international exposure at such shows, Schweitzer said.

This was also evident when a Malaysian company Star Medik, which has been exhibiting its disposable humidifiers at the Dusseldorf show, achieved extraordinary success.

The Nilai, Negeri Sembilan-based Star Medik, which manufactures disposable bubble humidifiers, bagged good business at the fair for 50 containers with an estimated value of US$4 million.

Besides getting enquiries from potential buyers from around the world, we received an order for 50 containers worth some US$4 million. Besides disposal bubble humidifiers, we also manufacture sensors and other healthcare requisites, Johari Abu Kasim, the company’s managing director, told Bernama.

The company operates in four areas of specialisation namely medical disposable items, innovative division and technical support. Star Medik’s major export markets include Spain, Ecuador, the Philippines, Thailand, Jordan, Ireland, South Korea and Saudi Arabia.

Since most of the innovations in the field of medical and healthcare sector are, increasingly, electronic and electrical-driven, Malaysian manufacturers of medical science and technology products could cooperate with the country’s well-developed electronic and electrical industry, Stefanie Hauser, who works for a German company that buys medical devices from Asia, said.

She predicted a strong demand for prophylactic products, for example, against so-called hospital-acquired infections (HAI) which pose a potential menace to human health.