APAC healthcare technology start-ups see the pandemic as an enabler for innovation

Medtronic hosted its first APAC Innovation Conference to discuss with key stakeholders about opportunities and challenges faced by healthcare technology  start-ups and SMEs in Asia Pacific 

Medtronic plc (NYSE:MDT), a global leader in  healthcare technology, today held its first hybrid conference, Medtronic Open  Innovation Conference (MAIC 2022), in Singapore, themed ‘Accelerating Healthcare  Technology Innovation’. Dedicated to the medical technology and healthcare  technology start-up scene in APAC, the event was attended by Minister of State, Alvin  Tan, Ministry of Trade and Industry and Culture, Community and Youth, Government of Singapore, as its guest of honor. 

Aimed at discussing the challenges and opportunities available around the healthcare  and technology ecosystem in medtech, the conference saw the attendance of over 200  delegates from start-ups, government institutions, and healthcare practitioners along  with Medtronic’s partner organizations. Taking the lead in this conversation, Medtronic  also unveiled a whitepaper titled ‘Asia Pacific’s Healthcare Technologies Ecosystem:  Enhancing Start-up and SME success’, written by the Economist Impact and supported  by the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB). Cementing Medtronic’s commitment to innovation in healthcare technology, winners from its recent Medtronic  APAC Innovation Challenge were also announced at the conference. 

Medtronic APAC Innovation Challenge – a reflection of the innovation boom  experienced during pandemic 

The Medtronic-Economist Impact Whitepaper revealed that up to 55% of respondents  cited COVID-19 as an enabler of innovative ideas, rather than a detractor. A reflection  of this innovation boom, Medtronic saw overwhelming applications from 323 start-ups and business enterprises from 46 countries across Asia Pacific and beyond vying for a potential collaboration with Medtronic valued up to US$200,000. Five start-ups were  crowned winners of the Medtronic APAC Innovation Challenge at the conference.  More details about the winners can be found here

The survey saw a combination of factors encompassing, better government support  (38%), greater collaboration with private sector (37%), increased funding availability  (36%) and cross-learning platforms between organizations (35%) as the drivers of  innovation acceleration. This led to the observation that a multi-sectoral collaborative  approach, led by governments in the region, was a key enabler for driving innovations.  While not all findings were a surprise, the scale of some findings did highlight the  magnitude of some issues facing the healthcare sector overall. One such example was  the overwhelming response citing recruitment as the leading cause of concern for over  80% of start-ups surveyed. This echoes the World Health Organization’s (WHO)  prediction of a global shortfall of 14.5 million healthcare workers by 2030. 

This first-ever study on the region’s healthcare technology sector involves inputs from  150 executives from startups and business enterprises in APAC. The paper also  includes in-depth interviews with several industry leaders from the healthcare  technology sector as well as from representatives from companies in the technology  sector such as SAP.iO Foundries and Microsoft Health. 

For more information on the whitepaper please refer to the factsheet or download the whitepaper here

Drivers and barriers emerged in first-ever APAC study on medtech start-ups and  SMES addressed at conference  

Chris Lee, President for Medtronic, APAC said, “No one company can do healthcare  alone. As the global leader of healthcare technology, Medtronic takes the  accountability to lead the conversation and encourage more meaningful  collaborations across the innovation ecosystem. That’s why we launched the open  innovation platform and hosted today’s conference. It’s great to see how all the stakeholders come forward to share their perspectives and are committed to working  together for better healthcare. We also appreciate all the idea submissions and congratulate the final winners. More importantly, I hope that our joint efforts will lead  to many new and improved solutions to meet the region’s unique healthcare needs.” 

The conference also featured a panel discussion between Chris Lee, Choo Heng Tong,  executive vice president, New Ventures and Innovation, EDB, Ms. Lalitha Bhaskara, vice  president, SAP.iO Foundries, and Dr. Rocky Lee, chief operating officer, Ventureblick. The panel weighed in on how governments can play a role of a facilitator towards  driving collaboration for innovation in healthcare, the criticality of understanding  patient pathways and healthcare economics for a successful development of  healthcare technology innovation, and the talent challenges faced by the startup  ecosystem in healthcare technology. 

Also presenting at the conference were Dr. Tyler Hyungtaek Rim, chief medical officer,  MediWhale, Dr. Jade Kua, senior consultant, Emergency Medicine, KK Women’s and  Children’s Hospital and Jade Life and Wellness Founder, and Shakthi Nagappan,  director Life Sciences and Pharma & CEO, Hyderabad Pharma City Ltd & BioAsia, Govt.  of Telangana, India. 

The conference and the challenge come on the heels of Medtronic’s plan to invest up  to US$50million under its Open Innovation Platform over the next five years and the  upcoming Digital Medtronic Innovation Center (dMIC) in Singapore, poised to serve  the APAC region. This was announced in October 2021 at a memorandum of  understanding (MOU) signing ceremony with EDB. The MOU has enabled Medtronic  and EDB to jointly access the regional start-up landscape, to support talent and  technology development and to help Medtronic leverage AI, Robotics and Digital  Health to address patient needs in the region. 

Goh Wan Yee, senior vice president, Healthcare, EDB, said, “Medtronic’s decision to  drive its Open Innovation push from Singapore underscores our position as a global  business hub where companies can successfully collaborate with key stakeholders to  capture new growth opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region. The discussions at MAIC  2022 are further testament to the robust ecosystem of talent and start-ups that  Medtronic’s innovation team will be able to tap here. We look forward to partnering  with more companies like Medtronic to engage and develop meaningful partnerships  with innovators to bring life-saving solutions to the market from Singapore.” 

Organized with the support of EDB, the conference was held at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre in Singapore and live streamed over LinkedIn.