Malaysian government approves 11 med tech projects worth $120M+

The federal Malaysian Investment Development Authority has approved 11 med tech projects worth 464.6 million Malaysian ringgit ($122.02 million) estimated to create 1,633 jobs, as the country aims to become a medical device hub.

It's already having some success, for Malaysian news outlet The Star, reports that the country exported medical devices worth $13.5 billion RM ($3.55 billion) in 2014, a 13% increase.

And 9 of the 11 projects are domestic investments by local companies, which include ABio Orthopedics, Straits Orthopedics, UWC Healthcare and Top Glove. China has also taken steps to promote local players, and India is planning to do so as well.

Overall, Malaysia has more than 190 medical device manufacturers with investments worth 13.2 billion ringgit ($3.47 billion) that employ more than 57,000 people.

"This industry is export oriented, have high value added, (and) a lot of spillover to local industries. Certainly we are encouraging more investments in the industry by offering good incentive packages," said the development authority's CEO, Azman Mahmud, in the article.

Several industry bigwigs have invested in Malaysia recently. St. Jude Medical ($STJ) has made the country a manufacturing hub for its pacemakers, and invested more than $500 million in the country since 2011.

In November, the company said it is looking to purchase more components from local vendors. "We are willing to make investments in developing a local vendor ecosystem, but the suppliers must be able to do likewise in meeting our quality control and stringent documentation requirements," Torbjörn Andersson, a regional managing director for the company, told another local news outlet. "We hope the government can assist in developing our vendor base by creating a cluster of suppliers as this will help in getting other companies similar to ours to invest here."

He added that the company recently set up a regional information technology center that acts like a call center for both international and Asia-Pacific patients and physicians.

And in September, Abbott Laboratories ($ABT) said it will invest $60 million in an intraocular lens manufacturing plant in Malaysia. The plant is expected to employ about 500 people and produce 1 million sets of IOLs a year.

Malaysia is also a member of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement, which focuses on nontariff barriers to trade. If approved, the deal would open the country up to more foreign investment from U.S. medical device companies. It also has a provision to implement fair and transparent government reimbursement of medical devices.

- read the Star article