China's device industry boasts 13,000 homegrown companies

At one university in China alone, 2,000 undergraduates are learning vital medical device industry-related science and skills. And the country now has 13,000 homegrown medical device companies. Feeling the competitive pressure yet?

Chengli Song, professor and executive director of the Shanghai Institute for Minimally Invasive Therapy, University of Shanghai for Science and Technology, revealed these facts recently during an event organized by the Carlson School of Management and the Medical Industry Leadership Institute at the University of Minnesota. MedCity News covered his talk in an interesting story that highlights how serious China has become as a competitor for device industry investment dollars and jobs.

The 2,000 undergraduates, by the way, are hard at work at Song's university, according to the story. And device companies--including Minnesota's own Medtronic ($MDT), Boston Scientific ($BSX), General Electric ($GE) and others--are actively investing in building research facilities and other operations in China as the company pursues rapid expansion of healthcare services around the country.

And the focus on developing an advanced medical device industry market in China goes all the way to the top, Song is quoted as saying, with President Hu Jintao apparently speaking about the device industry by name for the first time, of the need to "develop advanced medical device R&D and industry."

"If you know Chinese politics or how the government proceeds, whenever the top leader mentions something it means that it is very important," Song notes in the story. "And then it comes with ministry plans, it comes with investment and policy changes."

Consider, too, those 13,000 home-grown medical device companies that have sprung up in China. According to the story, Song explained that 3,500 are Class I device companies (the least regulated), 7,600 are Class II and 2,300 count as Class III companies, which are considered among the riskiest and most complex.

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