Current MedTech Trends – What role does Bavaria play?
When it comes to medical technology, Bavaria has a very special role to play. A study commissioned by the Bavarian State Ministry of Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy found as early as 2015 that over 3% of the medical products produced worldwide come from Bavaria alone. The market has continued to grow since then. A comparison shows how strong: In 2015, companies from the MedTech sector throughout Bavaria generated sales of around 15 billion euros. In 2018, Fresenius Medical Care, the largest MedTech company in Bavaria, achieved sales of 17.8 billion euros on its own. We report to on the latest MedTech trends and Bavaria's role in this segment.
What makes Bavaria attractive as a location for MedTech companies
It is worth companies locating their medical technology division here. The local universities are very well versed in this field, as can be seen from the Bavarian universities’ various institutions:
- Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg: Centre for Physics in Medicine and Engineering
- Universitätsklinik Regensburg: Telemedical Centre
- Technical University of Munich: Chair of Medical Materials and Implants
In addition to the academic institutions, there are organisations in Bavaria that make a great contribution to advancements in the medical field. For example, there are numerous research associations, in which science and business work together on research and development. These factors ensure that the Bavarian job market has professionals whose expertise helps MedTech companies advance. There are roughly 180 researching MedTech businesses at “Medical Valley” in the Nuremberg region alone.
Bavarian networks for medical technology
Several associations in Bavaria are aimed at promoting and advancing medical technology and current MedTech trends. The “Medical Valley EMN”, where EMN stands for “European Nuremberg Metropolitan region”, is home to about 180 researching enterprises from this economic sector. Europe’s largest healthcare sector network is based in Bavaria with “MedTech Pharma e. V.”. It currently includes over 600 members from all over Germany and another 12 countries. It is not just established companies that benefit from networking in Bavaria. Besides innovation and start-up centres like that for Medical Technology and Pharma (IZMP) in Erlangen, there are also academic cooperation networks such as “BioMedTec Franken”. Several mechanisms of this kind throughout the state are driving the start-up and settlement of new enterprises forward.
Medical technology in Bavaria: what is happening at the moment
Events have already been held in Bavaria reflecting the worldwide MedTech trends in 2019. The MedTech Summit congress, which was first launched under the name “MedTech Dialog Bayern”, regularly provides inspiration and ensures lively dialogue within the industry. This dialogue forum has been held annually since 2017. It is not only attended by companies but guests from politics and research also meet here regularly. The dialogue forum, which is focused on constantly advancing local medical technology enterprises, is actively supported and funded by the Bavarian state. The MedtecLIVE trade fair is also held annually in Nuremberg, where all the industry’s big names gather and present their latest innovations. Representatives from research, development, business and politics can also be found here. The fair was held from 21 to 23 May this year and the date for 2020 is also already fixed: anyone interested can take a look at the latest technologies from 31 March to 2 April 2020. The parallel MedTech Summit complements the event with its more academic approach.
MedTech trends in Bavaria: What MedtecLIVE 2019 has shown
Five fields had a greater presence than ever before at the trade fair for medical technology this year:
- Software solutions for medical applications
- Artificial intelligence as a supporting factor
- Mobile health products
- Intelligent implants
- Nanotechnology, in particular nano-3D printing
Software in medicine
It doesn't matter whether it's surgical robots, laboratory equipment or modern simulation programs: almost nothing works in a modern hospital without software any more. As medical devices are becoming more and more complex, the software has to deliver even more. Ease of use is also a factor that must not be neglected in development. According to an FDA study, about 80% of the errors that happen in hospitals can be traced back to the poor applicability of software or a program. Improved ease of use should enable doctors, carers, therapists and patients to handle the most diverse medical equipment even more safely.
AI as the new assistant
Artificial intelligence has one mission above all in modern medicine: sorting, processing and learning from huge amounts of data. This can relieve doctors and offer patients better care at the same time. AI can check x-rays or CT images more efficiently than a doctor. Patient data can also be evaluated much faster using an appropriate algorithm than it could by a human being. As a result, computers support doctors in making the best decisions for their patients.
Software and AI also play a leading role in the very new segment of mobile health. Innovative products from this segment enable doctors to contact their patients when necessary. So no patient has to be regularly checked on spec any more. In theory, this works by the patient permanently sending relevant vital data to their doctor, who then evaluates and monitors the data using software. As soon as a critical change occurs, the doctor receives a notification and can contact and treat their patient. This kind of procedure is already common in Denmark, in Germany it is literally still in its infancy. A Bavarian start-up is monitoring the gait pattern of Parkinson's patients using a sensor in shoes. Thanks to this technology from Portabiles HealthCare Technologies, a doctor can monitor a patient’s mobility round the clock in real time and observe the progression of the disease.
This term encompasses small medical devices, which combine sensor technology, actuator technology and signal processing in one and are inserted into the human body. Beside various stimulators for bladder, epilepsy or anxiety patients, this category also includes whole artificial organs, such as the pancreas or sphincters.
One example illustrates the impressive possibilities opened up by nano 3D printing: About 900 nanosensors can be printed on the circumference of a single human hair. The smaller a sensor or implant is, the easier the body absorbs it without the immune system attacking it. Sensors on hairs are even completely unproblematic until the planted hair falls out.
But it’s not just nanosensors that will shape medical research over the next few years. Tumour-destroying nanorobots and small machines that are introduced into the bloodstream to remove blockages are just a few examples. These tiny marvels of technology enable minimally invasive treatment methods that were previously unthinkable: at the Max Planck Institute, scientists have developed a robot that is so small that it can move through one eye without damaging tissue. On top of that, this model can also be remote controlled. It is therefore foreseeable that this new trend, which was presented at MedtecLIVE 2019 in Bavaria, can be used in future to introduce drugs into parts of the body that were previously difficult to reach.
Bavaria as a location for medical technology
It is impressive what is possible today using modern technology and medicine. In Bavaria, we are proud to be able to influence the direction of MedTech trends every year. Which is why we have presented the medical technology sector in Bavaria in more detail again.