Health’s R&D boost a welcome injection

Published: Fri 25 May 2012 02:31 PM
May 25, 2012
Health’s R boost a welcome injection
The $250 million of new operating funding and $76 million in capital funding over four years for science, innovation and research announced in yesterday’s Budget is a timely and welcome injection, according to the Medical Technology Association of New Zealand (MTANZ).
“This new funding will enable our medical device and health IT manufacturers to carve out a greater share of the fast-growing export market. This will lead to the creation of several hundred full time, highly skilled jobs in the next few years,” says MTANZ chief executive Faye Sumner.
MTANZ represents manufacturers of medical technology used in the diagnosis, prevention, treatment and management of disease and disability. New Zealand companies currently design, manufacture and export such devices as machines to manage obstructive sleep apnoea and other respiratory conditions; customised titanium hip, knee and neck implants; specialised dental technology and implants, among others, many of which are leaders in their field.
Companies in this sector in New Zealand are aiming to double their revenues to $1.5bn by 2015. Total exports for the medical devices and health IT sector are worth approximately $800m and have been growing at around 16 percent a year.
New funding over the next four years also announced in the Budget includes $90 million operating funding and $76.1 million capital funding to create the Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) to work with the high-tech manufacturing and services sector.
“This is a superb initiative that will bring together industry, researchers, developers and healthcare.”
Ms Sumner says a recent MTANZ Sector Overview highlighted the immense potential of the medical technology industry for New Zealand but pointed out that most of the companies involved are small and medium-sized enterprises. Their biggest challenge is in commercialising their innovations in sophisticated and large markets like the United States and Europe.
“Our exporters are up against some of the largest companies in the world who have colossal marketing budgets. It takes a lot of money and ingenuity just to get noticed. There’s not much point developing innovative medical technology products if no-one knows about them. We believe Government investment in helping companies to commercialise their products will pay handsome dividends.”

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