International Profile – Germany

Leading the way in medical technology development

The Middle East is fortunate to have strong ties to Germany as the country is a world leader in research, innovation and development of medical technology. Middle East Health reports.

Germany’s market for medical technology is the largest in Europe and the third largest in the world. The industry is diverse, covering the entire range of products from medical equipment for diagnosis to rehabilitation. Germany’s reputation for innovation and quality products is well known worldwide, and the medical technology industry is no exception.

The industry employs a total of 165,000 people in more than 11,000 companies, with 15% of these employees in research and development – a number that is increasing. The diversity in the industry is confirmed by the amount of medium-sized firms active in Germany. These represent over 95% of the entire industry.

Healthcare spending in Germany amounts to more than EUR 21 billion, with an industry turnover of EUR 17.3 billion. This figure has seen an upward trend in recent years. While domestic sales are increasing, exports also remain strong. The export quota stands at 64%, an increase of 13% since 2000. Foreign sales have also risen 6.7% to EUR 11.1 billion. While a majority of exports go to neighbouring European countries, the Middle East has seen growing demand for German medical technology. This is also true for imports in this sector.

Germany has a number of medium-sized companies that are market leaders in their respective sub-segments. These include B.Braun, Fresenius Kabi, Dräger Medical, Karl Storz, and Carl Zeiss Meditec to name a few. In addition to these, Siemens is the most conspicuous German company in this field. The company is number three in the industry, with EUR 9.9 billion in sales in 2007.

Technology clusters

One unique characteristic of Germany’s medical technology industry is that it tends to centre around a number of distinct geographic clusters across the country that fulfil the cluster criteria. In Bavaria, Siemens has its home in the cities of Nuremberg and Erlangen, while General Electric and Olympus have research centres in Munich. In the southwestern region of Baden-Württemberg, several medium-sized companies are based in Tuttlingen. This otherwise small city benefits from a strong research network in nearby Stuttgart, Karlsruhe, and Ulm. LifeTecAachen- Jülich e.V. is the general life sciences network in the North Rhine-Westphalia state including nearby Cologne, and the Aachener Kompetenzzentrum Medizintechnik is one of the region’s centres for medical technology. Other clusters include the northern region encompassing Hamburg, Kiel, and Lübeck, in which Dutch company Philips and Olympus have their main bases. Berlin also offers excellent opportunities for this sector. Due to its dense health care and medical technologies infrastructure, Germany’s capital is a thriving innovation and growth centre for small and medium-sizes companies.

International companies from locations worldwide choose Germany as a site to invest due to a variety of factors. The country has the benefit of state-of-the-art infrastructure, which includes dense road, rail, air, and water networks that make it easier to reach customers in Europe, the world’s largest market. Based at the centre of Europe, companies can reach clients in the established western European markets, as well as the growth markets in eastern Europe.

Rolf O. Gohdes, Director of Healthcare at Germany Trade & Invest, confirms this sentiment: “Germany offers a unique package for medical technology companies. The stable investment environment and culture of innovation open the doors to Europe for small and large companies alike.”


For companies interested in tapping into the potential that Germany offers, the German Chamber Network (AHKs) opened The German Industry and Commerce Office in Dubai in May of this year. This office provides a first point of contact for companies looking to find more information on investing in Germany. Together with Germany Trade & Invest, the AHKs can help with trade and investment opportunities and continue to strengthen the role of this regional partnership.

● The website and the industry page for medical technology homepage/industries/healthcare/ medical-technology provide extensive information on Germany’s thriving industry and how to enter this market.

Life Science Nord

Traditionally, medical technology has a strong base in Hamburg and Schleswig- Holstein. The North scores in particular thanks to the size and market domination of the companies that operate in the region, and is an ideal location for medical technology. About 11,500 employees generate revenues of some Euro 3.9 billion a year. In the Life Science Nord region, large companies such as Olympus Winter & Ibe, Philips Medical Systems, Dräger Medical, and Eppendorf AG develop and produce highly successful solutions for the global medical market. However, small and mid-sized firms, like Weinmann Medical Technology, are also very well positioned in this sector and have built up a broad distribution network or subsidiaries in the United Arab Emirates.

The University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf UKE with its subsidiary UKE Consult & Management is also well established in the Middle East. Founded in 2006, its objective is two-pronged: to market German university medicine worldwide and to improve the quality of medical care in other regions of the world such as the Middle East, East Asia, India and Russia. Over the past 15 years the University Medical Center has become increasingly popular with Arab patients seeking specialist treatment abroad. Now UKE´s consultancy branch is drawing up plans for new hospitals in the region with cutting edge technology.

North German companies and clinics benefit extremely well from the activities of the two states, Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein. The Hamburg Chamber of Commerce cooperates closely with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, meetings between the Hamburg Ministry of Health and the UAE are organised regularly and an extensive presentation of North German companies and clinics is organised at the occasion of Arab Health each year. Norgenta North German Life Science Agency coordinates the exhibition and supports businesses in their activities to enter the UAE’s market.

“Medical technology from North Germany is often requested in the UAE. In recent years, we have become a reliable partner for the healthcare industry there,” explains Dr Kathrin Adlkofer, CEO Norgenta. Not only on the economic, but also on the personal level, the connections between Hamburg and the UAE have developed outstandingly well; several hundred companies currently maintain business relations with Dubai. “Consistency is a highly important aspect. Our contact with the UAE is supported through several cooperations based on the technological and scientific expertise in our enterprises and clinics,” adds Dr Adlkofer.

Particular areas of competence are medical imaging, operating technologies, implantology and endoprosthetics. However, besides the extremely vigorous production side of medical technology in the northern region, medical research is also broadly based and well networked. The close collaboration between universities and research institutions, which is characteristic for the Life Science Nord region, play a major role in its success. In the future, developments in medical technology will involve integrating different systems, miniaturising devices for minimally invasive surgery and improving optical imaging techniques. All these fields are the subject of considerable research.

Medical imaging

Optical and imaging diagnosis has long been an area of expertise in this region, especially since the Hamburg-based company C.H.F. Müller developed the first X-ray machines back in 1896. It is in this tradition that Philips Healthcare currently operates the world’s most advanced production site for X-ray tubes in Hamburg. But the north region has far more to offer in this field. The global player Olympus Winter & Ibe produces and develops endoscopes in Hamburg. Siemens Medical Solutions also has significant operations in North Germany, while the Schleswig- Holstein-based Möller-Wedel has an international reputation as a producer of surgical microscopes. In principle, a distinction can be made between imaging methods that are based on optical and those that rely on non-optical devices. In North Germany, both fields are represented – by global players as well as medium-sized, innovative businesses.

Apart from scientific expertise, the North also has plenty to offer when it comes to linking different imaging techniques. In the area of surgical microscopes, attempts are currently being made to depict data from the pre-surgical in vivo diagnosis in the microscope’s field of view, to assist the surgeon. A special area that combines expertise in medical engineering and biotechnology, and is well established in this region, is molecular imaging. Internationally, molecular imaging – the visualisation of molecular, biochemical and cellular events using non-invasive imaging methods – is one of the most dynamic areas growth and innovation in medicine. Its successful development means that, thanks to more specific diagnosis, therapy can be tailored individually to a single patient, thus improving the chances of recovery. In Life Science Nord, the University Medical Centers of Schleswig- Holstein and Hamburg- Eppendorf have cooperated with the technology partner Philips for several years, and have achieved progress in molecular imaging research. Keyhole surgery

In the Life Science Nord region, keyhole surgery is very well represented. North Germany plays a leading role when it comes to high-precision medical instruments and innovative high-tech solutions for the operating room. From three-dimensional imaging devices to centralised control of surgical systems, pioneering products and instruments are being developed in medical engineering companies in Hamburg and Schleswig- Holstein.

In Hamburg and Schleswig- Holstein, there is a broad technological base in industry and scientific institutes, notably in the fields of preoperative and intraoperative diagnostics as well as in minimally invasive and microsurgical intervention. Hospitals and large specialised practices also have a high level of expertise in applying minimally invasive techniques.

Some 40 companies develop and manufacture new devices and services in the fields of surgery and surgical instruments. In addition, 25 companies are involved in imaging and diagnostic technologies. One trend common to all these firms is the integration of preoperative data into intervention procedures and the implementation of intraoperative data which provides simultaneous availability of diagnostic and visualisation data to assess therapy options.

Olympus Winter & Ibe, a market leader in optoelectronic minimally invasive technologies, is based in Hamburg. The Olympus Medical Training Centre (OMTC) in Hamburg is one of the most modern facilities for doctors. The heart of the OMTC is the Olympus Advanced ENDOALPHA operating room, a visionary control and communication centre that integrates all necessary medical equipment and peripheral systems.

Other players in this field include small and mid-sized companies such as Söring. For more than two decades, this ultrasound specialist from has been supplying the international market with innovative solutions for ultrasound and high frequency surgery.

Möller-Wedel is also based in Schleswig-Holstein. The company specialises in the development of high-performance operating microscopes. The systems are used wherever operations on delicate structures such as the eye, brain, or spinal cord are carried out.

Johnson & Johnson Medical, market leader in the development and production of suture products, implants, and operating therapies, is an important partner for all doctors that undertake surgical procedures. From Lübeck, Dräger Medical distributes products, services and integrated system solutions for clinical acute and home care throughout the world.

Implantology and endoprosthetics

In Germany, between 180,000 and 200,000 hip joints, 120,000 to 140,000 knee joints, and 10,000 shoulder joints are implanted every year. The most important endoprosthesis in Germany is the artificial hip. Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein can offer expertise at company, university and clinic level, offering the basis for successful further developments in this field. In this industry, leading companies include Stryker, ESKA Implants, and Waldemar Link, which are making progress in the development and production of new implants in close collaboration with clinics and universities.

In this field the ENDO Clinic is the main facility and enjoys an international reputation in endoprosthetics. The Boberg Trauma Hospital and the Center for Biomechanics and Skeletal Biology at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf are further institutes in the region that enable networked research and development to be carried out and synergies to be exploited. Tissue engineering is closely related to implantology, transplants and endoprosthetics. In North Germany, a number of differing approaches are being pursued, for example to improve heart valve flaps through biofunctionalisation or to provide cartilage replacement material – in both cases on the basis of tissue engineering. The universities have considerable competencies in this area. The Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH), in particular, can boast expertise in basic and applied research in this field.

ate of upload: 15th July 2009


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