Taiwan – Medical Devices

High Demand for Medical Devices in Taiwan

Published: 27 January 2019

Expansion and modernization of clinics

Taiwan is modernizing its health care system. A number of hospitals and special clinics will be built newly, expanded or modernized over the next couple of years and therefore equipped with medical technology. The largest projects include a hospital in Hsinchu with over 700 beds and one in Tucheng with more than 1,000 beds. Expenditures of around US$ 225 million has been earmarked for each of these projects.

Additionally, there are smaller projects such as the NTU Cancer Center, for which preliminary planning started late 2018. Also, a special tourism hospital will be built in Hengchun in southern Taiwan. It is designed for 99 beds and should be completed by 2021.

 

Taiwan: Selected hospital projects

Capacity Period
National Taiwan Hospital Hsinchu 500 beds + 228 special beds 2017-2022
Chang Gung Hospital Kaoshiung 414 beds 2018-2024
Chang Gung Hospital Tucheng 1,058 beds 2020

Source: MHOW

 

Imports of medical technology remain high

At present, Taiwan still relies heavily on imports to meet its demand for medical equipment. Imports of high-quality medical devices cover about 70% of the demand. They come mainly from the US and Japan. Germany is the third-largest supplier of medical technology and accounts for almost 10% of total imports of the sector.

According to latest available figures, sales of medical devices increased by 3.4% in local currency terms in 2017 compared to 2016. It can be expected that total revenue, which was at US$ 4.8 billion in 2017, will continue to increase. Local production is expected to benefit from the strong demand. Market research institute IEK forecasts that the production value of the local industry will increase by more than 7% in 2019, after an estimated growth of 5.5% in 2018.

The most important growth segments include contact lenses, electric wheelchairs and catheters. These are mainly produced for export. Exports consist mainly of equipment in the lower and middle market segments and equipment manufactured on behalf of international companies.

 

Taiwan: Imports of medical devices (in US$ million)

HS Code Product group 2017 2018
9018.11-.20 Electrodiagnostics 72.3 80.8
9022 X-ray machines 163.9 373.7
8419.20 Sterilizers 8.8 6.5
8713 Wheelchairs 13.9 10.8
9018.41, .49 Dentistry 32.3 35.6
9018.31-.39 Syringes, needles, catheters etc. 168.1 193.2
9018.50 Ophthalmological instruments 25.7 31.9
9018.90 Other instruments and apparatus 679.6 621.0
9019, 9020 Therapy, respiration devices 112.1 129.2
9402 Medical furniture 14.0 17.7
9021 Orthopedics 323.7 365.9
Total 1,614.4 1,866.3

Source: Directorate General of Customs

 

Taiwan wants to develop more by itself

The island wants to gradually expand its portfolio of medical devices for professional and domestic use. More and more companies are entering the market with their own inventions, including dental technology, orthopedics, diagnostics and minimally invasive treatments. As Taiwan has a strong foundation in the precise production of various materials as well as in the production and application of electronic parts, these strengths should be exploited to a greater extent for the biotechnology sector.

Business opportunities for innovative medical technology are great due to the demographic development in Taiwan and many other countries. Market research company Frost & Sullivan assumes that sales in the digital healthcare sector in the Asia-Pacific region will increase from around US$ 133 billion to US$ 182 billion between 2018 and 2021.

Status as a key industry is strengthened further

In order to create the necessary innovation environment, the government provides sector clusters, whose number has increased in 2018. After some delays, the National Biotechnology Research Park in Taipei was inaugurated in October 2018. Other locations include Hsinchu (central Taiwan) as well as Kaohsiung and Tainan in southern Taiwan. The goal is to attract specifically companies and research institutes in areas such as analytical equipment, medical technology and test laboratories to the clusters. At the Southern Taiwan Science Park in Kaohsiung, for example, 55 of the 73 established companies were from the medical technology sector alone at the end of 2017.

Clusters and financial incentives continue to promote biotechnology as a key industry. More cooperation with foreign companies will contribute to this, as well. In the development and licensing of technology, companies are also supported by state research institutions such as the Industrial Technology Research Institute ITRI (https://www.itri.org.tw/eng/).