Beyond Capital, a New Zealand based investment partner of the Consortium for Medical Device Technologies (CMDT) hosted a group of CMDT members on a study tour to Hangzhou in November this year.

The objective of this visit was for the New Zealanders to learn about the health innovation ecosystem, including innovation hubs, start-up communities and hospitals in Hangzhou to understand the partnering opportunities open to New Zealand’s medical technology innovation and medtech start-ups. It was also a chance to meet with potential research and clinical partners, as well the Chinese investor community who are part of the Beyond Capital network.
The programme included two days of visits to hospitals from the high-end Hangzhou Medical Mall private facility to public hospitals in Zhejiang and Shanghai, the HEDA precinct and HIPARK a high-tech innovation hub specializing in games and digital health. The New Zealand team was also hosted by the Zhejiang Institute of Medical Equipment Inspection and Research, a branch of the Chinese FDA, and several medical device OEM manufacturers who also undertake prototyping and small production runs. The China-New Zealand Sports & Joints Healthcare Conference organized by Beyond Capital was part of the study programme.The New Zealand team were extremely impressed by the scale of the Hangzhou Provincial Government’s vision and support for health innovation. There is a lot of effort in Hangzhou at present to grow into a medical innovation hub and it now has a vibrant start up community not just working in medical devices but also digital health.

China’s healthcare needs is similar to that of the west but its emphasis on health priorities appears to be slightly different.

From the study tour there appears to be a strong interest in prevention care especially in relation to keeping well. Rehabilitation from sports injuries, orthopedic surgery and accidents is also an area of growing interest. The opportunity for New Zealand could be in collaborations around proven rehabilitation programmes and digital rehabilitation technology. The study trip also showed how western medicine concepts coincide side by side with Chinese cultural beliefs, marrying ideas from the West and East. This is an area that can be explored further to bring about unique innovation in rehabilitation practices.

Another area of growing interest in China is serious gaming for use in rehabilitation and education. This builds on China’s capability in digital technology especially in computer games development and the utilization of the latest augmented reality and artificial reality technology. New Zealand research and start-ups in the health sector has much experience in these areas to offer potential Chinese collaborators.

A key observation that this visit really brought home was the need for New Zealand research and start-ups to have easier access to clinical, business and investment partnerships in export markets of interest. Local knowledge is so helpful to navigate the intricacies of these networks and provide direction. The relationship with Beyond Capital certainly helped the CMDT team obtain a greater insight into the Chinese health innovation and healthcare system than we could have achieved otherwise.

The New Zealand CMDT team comprised of members from the Auckland University of Technology, University of Auckland, Massey University and NZTE.

The CMDT is New Zealand’s medtech research-industry network. www.cmdt.org.nz

Dr Diana Siew

Co-chair CMDT and Strategic Partnerships Lead,

Auckland Bioengineering Institute