Brim­ming with prom­ise

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By WANG YING in Shang­hai

wang_y­ing@chi­nadaily. com.cn

It has only been about five years since its in­cep­tion but Shang­hai United Imag­ing Healthcare is al­ready look­ing like a promis­ing con­tender from China that can dis­rupt the for­eign mo­nop­oly on the coun­try’s high-end med­i­cal equip­ment in­dus­try.

The Chi­nese com­pany, which has sub­mit­ted an im­pres­sive to­tal of 1,035 patents to date, re­ceived 1 bil­lion yuan ($161 mil­lion) worth of con­tracts in 2014, and its goal for 2015 is 2 bil­lion yuan.

Founded in 2010 by 11 Chi­nese mem­bers who boast valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence in for­eign med­i­cal de­vice com­pa­nies, United Imag­ing Healthcare has the aim of be­com­ing a rep­utable Chi­nese brand for med­i­cal de­vices. The team had de­cided to lo­cate the com­pany in Shang­hai’s Jiad­ing dis­trict due to the city’s abun­dant re­sources in this par­tic­u­lar in­dus­try and the level of sup­port pro­vided by the mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ment.

The po­ten­tial for growth in this par­tic­u­lar sec­tor is high as there is a great de­mand for high-end med­i­cal equip­ment from nu­mer­ous Chi­nese hos­pi­tals and med­i­cal in­sti­tu­tions.

“We want to be­come a Chi­nese med­i­cal de­vice com­pany that is equiv­a­lent to global-stan­dard ones,” said Xue Min, chair­man of the board and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of the com­pany.

How­ever he ad­mit­ted that the odds were al­ways against them. Chi­nese com­pa­nies have typ­i­cally had lit­tle suc­cess in this field as they lack ac­cess to tech­nol­ogy and in­no­va­tion. Most of the lo­cal play­ers were sim­ply too small and all they could do was vie for mea­ger prof­its in the lowend mar­ket. For in­stance, the to­tal out­put value of China’s nearly 15,000 med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties providers was around 180 bil­lion yuan ($29 bil­lion) in 2012. In con­trast, the global rev­enue of one for­eign med­i­cal de­vice maker alone amounted to $19 bil­lion.

To ad­dress this is­sue, United Imag­ing Healthcare de­voted much fo­cus to de­sign­ing their own prod­ucts — about 60 per­cent of the com­pany’s 2,000 em­ploy­ees work on re­search and de­vel­op­ment. The move paid off as the com­pany has since launched 18 state-of-theart prod­ucts, with seven of them hav­ing won the pres­ti­gious iF Prod­uct De­sign Award and Red Dot De­sign Award, also known as the “De­sign Os­car”.

To be­come more com­pet­i­tive, United Imag­ing Healthcare priced their prod­ucts about 20 per­cent lower than their in­ter­na­tional coun­ter­parts. Po­ten­tial con­sumers soon started to take no­tice of this new com­pany and their achieve­ments, and it wasn’t long be­fore ma­jor mar­ket play­ers started to lower their prices too.

“In ma­jor hos­pi­tals, most of the high-end med­i­cal equip­ment is pur­chased from for­eign brands, who charge high prices and main­te­nance fees for their prod­ucts. This may be one of causes for China’s high med­i­cal treat­ment cost,” said Zhang Qiang, co-pres­i­dent and mem­ber of the board at Shang­hai United Imag­ing Healthcare Co Ltd.

“The same set of equip­ment may even cost twice in China com­pared to abroad. We should change the sit­u­a­tion, and this is also a mis­sion to im­prove the med­i­cal treat­ments re­ceived by the Chi­nese peo­ple,” Zhang added.

But there is still much to do be done be­fore the mo­nop­oly held by multi­na­tional cor­po­ra­tions is bro­ken. Cur­rently, three for­eign or­ga­ni­za­tions still claim more than 70 per­cent of the shares in the high­end med­i­cal de­vice mar­ket in China.

“The jour­ney will be dif­fi­cult, but at least we have started,” said Xue.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Shang­hai United Im­age Healthcare has seen suc­cess with their fo­cus on de­sign­ing their own prod­ucts.

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