"Most knowledgeable health-care professionals around the world look to America as a leader in innovation," says Steve Northrup, executive director of the Medical Device Manufacturers Association. "The United States is one of the few areas in the world, if not the only one, that has an entrepreneurial medical-device sector." He points out that two-thirds of the 7,000 medical-device companies in the United States have 50 or fewer employees. Also, the Health Industry Manufacturers Association cites that some $147 billion is spent on health-care technical products around the world; $85 billion of that is spent outside the United States.
No wonder medical-device firms are doing business overseas. Says Northrup, "Demand is growing worldwide. Latin America and Asia are two of the biggest growth areas, but you should be aware of the economic instability in those markets."
Gabriel Spera, editor of the online trade publication Medical Device Link, sees opportunities in Southeast Asia and Europe. "Southeast Asia needs straight commodity goods, like blood bags, tubings and needles," says Spera. "In Europe, you'll find a sophisticated market looking for high-end technologies, such as robotically assisted surgical systems."