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Crisis dampens industry growth

Corona has put a damper on the medtech industry, but the sector is still getting off lightly compared to other industries, according to the latest industry figures. 

The industry association SPECTARIS presents the latest economic figures just in time for MEDICA. There are also new results from a joint survey with the Tuttlingen-based industry cluster MedicalMountains. So the signs are pointing to improvement. Although the medical technology industry in particular is under great pressure to deal with the corona crisis, many companies are registering a drop in sales and expect permanent changes in business processes. 69 percent of the companies expect 2020 to be worse than the previous year, while 14 percent expect the sales result to remain the same and 18 percent expect sales to increase.

Minus turns out less than expected

For 2020 as a whole, a decline in sales of around four percent is expected in the industry, with international business the forecast minus is even higher at six percent, reported Markus Kuhlmann, Managing Director of Medical Technology at SPECTARIS at an online press conference during the virtual MEDICA, which took place on 16 November started. At the same time, however, he also pointed out that the industry had an extremely good year in 2019 with an increase in sales of 10% compared to the previous year and that, from this perspective, another significant increase had been expected at the beginning of the year. The association now expects total sales of EUR 2020 billion for the 2020 financial year. This corresponds to a minus of 32% compared to the previous year. Nevertheless, this amount is still higher than the figures for 3,6, when sales of 2018 billion euros were generated.

Assessment has improved over the course of the year

According to the association, the current overall assessment has also improved compared to the June survey, which still expected a decline of eight percent in total sales and twelve percent in foreign sales. The actual incoming orders, which in the period from January to May were still eleven percent below the corresponding period of the previous year, shows a slight upward trend with a decline of around seven percent in the period from January to September. Domestic business is developing more positively than international business and could even be one percent above the previous year's level by the end of the year. Based on this mood, the more than 1.400 German companies (with more than 20 employees) with their around 150.000 employees are expected to generate sales of around 32 billion euros this year, of which around 20 billion euros abroad. In the previous year, the total turnover was over 33 billion euros.

"German medical technology has proven to be a reliable partner in the difficult times of the Corona crisis. In order for this to be possible in the future, we need a rethink on the part of politicians," emphasized Martin Leonhard, Chairman of Medical Technology in the German industry association SPECTARIS. “Right now, the healthcare system is expecting the medtech industry to deliver. However, the ever-increasing amount of bureaucracy is pushing many manufacturers to their breaking point and damaging the industry's innovative strength," says Leonhard. International trade and exchange must also be further strengthened and the tendencies towards national isolation counteracted in order to keep the export engine running.

Crisis as an opportunity for necessary upheavals

Thilo Kaltenbach from the management consultancy Roland Berger pointed out that the corona crisis should be seen primarily as a dampener and may also catalyze long-needed upheavals - for example in the areas of digitization and consolidation. "The crisis also offers opportunities with regard to digital sales opportunities, cooperation with start-ups or the further expansion of new digital products," says Kaltenbach. Together with the association, Roland Berger has published a study on how Corona is changing the industry and which recommendations for action can be derived from an economic point of view. (more about the study can be found here) “Digitization, which has progressed only hesitantly in recent years, has rapidly gained momentum. This can be seen, for example, in the increasing acceptance of telemedicine and digital outpatient care concepts as well as in the accelerated process digitization in medical technology and in hospitals," explains Kaltenbach and emphasizes: "Corona has left deep marks and raised awareness of the importance of viable emergency plans and stable supply chains are. Digitization also plays a central role here.” In the study, more than seven out of ten respondents agreed that the areas of telemedicine, automation and preventive diagnostics as well as digital applications, such as warning apps or tools for digital tracking, will continue to gain importance and will be among the technology winners of the pandemic .

Digital working models are gaining in importance

Jörg Mayer, Managing Director of SPECTARIS, is convinced: "The crisis has set a process in motion that is irreversible. Digital working models as well as sales, service and exhibition concepts are now very important in the strategy of many companies and, even after Corona, will be at least as important as classic working methods and personal customer contacts Image as a system-relevant industry with high social status and thus improve access to engineers and digital experts. At the same time, the shortage of staff in patient care and nursing is increasing the need for suitable solutions in supporting processes. Leonhard also emphasized that in Germany, for example, there is still a need to catch up in the field of artificial intelligence. "With the support of politicians, user centers and AI hubs must be set up here as quickly as possible, which also include medtech companies and their needs."

SMEs have to shoulder a lot and need support

The online discussion also made it clear that small and medium-sized companies in particular are struggling with the consequences of the pandemic. This was also confirmed by Julia Steckeler, Managing Director of Medical Mountains: "Many companies used up their reserves for the conversion to the EU Medical Devices Regulation and then the crisis came. That brings many to the edge of their capacities.” However, most companies are currently coping better with the current lockdown, she reported. "The problem of the supply chains does not seem to be that critical at the moment," says Steckeler, but still points to the need for further help from the federal government. “The previous cross-industry aid measures of the federal government were and are important. However, only one fifth of the companies expect that the concerns of the industrial healthcare industry will continue to be given greater consideration in the political healthcare agenda in the future.” The industry is hoping for positive impetus from the leading trade fair “MEDICA”, which will "virtual.MEDICA" is taking place virtually for the first time and opened its doors on Monday.

You can find more information on the economic key figures and the survey by SPECTARIS and MedicalMountains here 

Source: Press article med tech zwo from November 17.11.2020th, XNUMX


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