‘Doctor on call’ has new meaning
Start-ups display smartphone-linked diagnostic tools at the Medical and Healthcare fair.
24 May 2019
The “device that ate everything” is a label often applied to smartphones – and now they appear poised to take over clinics too. The 10th HKTDC Hong Kong International Medical and Healthcare Fair, organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) and co-organised by the Hong Kong Medical and Healthcare Device Industries Association (HKMHDIA), featured many start-ups, with several exhibitors displaying smartphone-linked diagnostic equipment.
RainsOptics exhibited an automatic retinal image analysis device to detect the risk of age-related white matter hyperintensities, which are linked to dementia and cognitive decline, providing a low-cost test without the need for an MRI scan. The start-up was a winner in the HKTDC’s 2018 Start-up Express Pitching Final and was fostered by Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks (HKSTP).
A Korean company, 1 Drop Inc, which was established two years ago, brought its portable blood-testing device that uses a smartphone and plasma separating biosensors to detect several diseases with only one drop of blood, revolutionising the way tests are conducted. Company CEO Joowon Rhee said they joined the fair for the first time and were satisfied with the result, having met more than 100 buyers from Mainland China and Southeast Asia on the first day alone. The encouraging response aligns well with the company’s plan to expand into international markets later in 2019.
This year’s Medical Fair welcomed more than 12,000 buyers from 61 countries and regions, an increase of 8% compared with last year.
Benjamin Chau, HKTDC Deputy Executive Director, said: “Although the latest round of United States tariff hikes could have a negative effect on the Hong Kong economy, its impact on medical products is expected to be relatively small. The strong global demand for medical devices and supplies is presenting enormous prospects for the industry.”
Mr Chau added that there was a satisfactory increase in buyer turnout at this year’s Medical Fair, “indicating that Hong Kong continues to be an important international exhibition and sourcing hub for global buyers”.
In the face of global economic uncertainty, the HKTDC is committed to help companies gain business opportunities by exploring new markets and organising buyer missions. For the Medical Fair, the number of buyers from developed markets, such as Hong Kong, Korea, Taiwan and Japan, showed a significant increase, while attendance from emerging markets, including the mainland and ASEAN countries such as Thailand and Indonesia, also recorded satisfactory growth.
India’s Onlinesurgical.com, an e-tailer of surgical and medical devices, was one of the buyers attending the Medical Fair. CEO Gopinath Goswami said the fair provided an excellent platform for his company to source a wide variety of new products. He found three potential suppliers from Hong Kong and plans to place an order for electrocardiogram machines worth US$100,000 with one of the exhibitors.
Greater Bay Area
The mainland is Hong Kong’s largest export market for medical and healthcare equipment. With its advantages in research and development, design, marketing and quality control, Hong Kong’s medical and healthcare equipment companies are primed to drive development of this industry in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. The high quality of research conducted by Hong Kong’s higher education institutions, especially in the areas of biomedical technologies and artificial intelligence, demonstrate that Hong Kong can serve as the “research brain” for the Greater Bay Area.
At the Medical Fair, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University showcased its self-developed “mobile exo-neuro-musculo-skeleton” that boosts the multi-joint upper limb rehabilitation of stroke survivors. The invention won a Gold Medal at the 47th International Exhibition of Inventions Geneva and is being tested in several local public hospitals. The team that developed the device is planning to enter the Greater Bay Area market by launching the product in the First Affiliated Hospital at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou.
Start-ups take spotlight
This year’s Medical Fair featured 285 exhibitors from eight countries and regions. Co-organiser HKMHDIA presented its largest pavilion to date with 55 companies. The Startup zone was also expanded to display the innovative technologies of 21 start-ups and to host the inaugural Korea Startup Pavilion, which featured six companies.
Biotechnology, one of the fastest developing technologies applied in the medical industry, was in focus at the fair. An exhibitor introduced Hong Kong’s first laboratory, which will be launched soon, to conduct comprehensive genomic profiling for cancer patients. A Korean exhibitor showcased its cutting-edge “bio printer”, which enables skin, soft-tissue and hard-tissue printing.
Sophia Chong, HKTDC Acting Executive Director, said: “The medical devices and supplies market presents enormous growth potential. To help industry players capitalise on the opportunities, this year’s Medical Fair spotlights home-grown cutting-edge biotechnology applications and an array of smart home healthcare equipment and wearable medical devices. The fair offers an important business and sourcing platform to companies in the medical and healthcare industry.”
Showcasing biotech innovations
Hong Kong’s biotechnology industry is booming, with some local companies winning international awards for their research and development.
A fair highlight was the “Biomedical Technologies that are Changing Healthcare” seminar, where Simon Sze, Associate Director of the Biomedical Technology Cluster at HKSTP, shared his insights into promoting the commercialisation of biomedical technology. The seminar also featured innovations from three biotechnology companies fostered by the HKSTP, including RainsOptics as well as a portable immune system diagnostic platform to detect various diseases with just a drop of blood or saliva, and a portable radiation-free scoliosis assessment system that uses 3D ultrasound imaging technology. These home-grown biomedical technologies have been certified internationally and are now being adopted by opticians and public hospitals in Hong Kong, with some already penetrating mainland and overseas markets.
The Biotechnology zone assembled a broad range of biomedical companies from Hong Kong and Korea to showcase applications for diagnosis and healthcare. Exhibits included a fluorescent indicator useful for detecting stomach and colon cancer.
An ageing global population and a general increase in health awareness are stimulating the development of the medical and healthcare equipment industry. The Medical Fair gathered an assortment of smart-home healthcare equipment and wearable medical devices, including a monitoring kit that can detect a fall in a person with reduced mobility within 300 metres and a wristband tag that alerts caregivers when patients wander from their homes. Other highlighted zones include the World of Health & Wellness, which showcased an array of fitness products, functional food and beverages, and health supplements; the Rehabilitation and Elderly Care zone that displayed products and services for elderly care and rehabilitation; and the Hospital Equipment zone where specialist technology such as ultrasound and other imaging equipment, along with a range of surgical and first-aid instruments, was presented.
To facilitate sourcing, 14 thematic zones were set up at the Medical Fair to showcase products in a variety of categories. These included rehabilitation and elderly care products, household and personal healthcare products, health food and nutrition, fitness products and services, physiotherapy supplies and hospital equipment. In addition, a series of seminars was organised during the fair to update participants on the latest market and industry developments, covering areas such as biomedical technologies, the use of sensor technologies for medical diagnosis in Australia, and the outlook for the medical and healthcare industry.
The Hospital Authority Convention 2019, another signature event of the Asia-Pacific medical industry, was held concurrently with the Medical Fair at the HKCEC on 14 and 15 May. More than 5,600 medical professionals attended the event.
- Health & Beauty
- Medical & Healthcare Services
- Medical Supplies & Medicine
- Hong Kong