The Advanced Medical Devices and Robotics Management and Development Program of the Thailand Center of Excellence for Life Sciences (TCELS) under the Ministry of Higher Education Science Research and Innovation, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Kasetsart University, Suranaree University of Technology and the Institute for Small and Medium Enterprises Development (ISMED) to create a strategic network with the goal of developing academic work and joint research.
Executives from four organizations, namely Dr. Nares Damrongchai, CEO of TCELS; Assoc. Prof. Peerayuth Charnsethikul, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, Kasetsart University; Assoc. Prof. Dr. Anan Tongraar, Vice Rector, Suranaree University of Technology; and Tananon Praichan, President, Institute for Small and Medium Enterprises Development (ISMED), signed the MOU on August 9, 2019 at the TCELS Headquarters in Bangkok.
Dr. Nares said that the partnership aimed to create a solid network to jointly develop academics and other human resources as well as enhance R&D capabilities that would strengthen the country's competitiveness. TCELS has taken part in value chain development of the life sciences industry, supporting entrepreneurs in Thailand and research from upstream to downstream to meet national demand.
Notably, Thailand's medical equipment industry has bright prospects with an average growth of 8.5-10% annually (2016-2019), higher than the global average due largely due to the aging population. It has also been driven by the medical tourism in Thailand, which is growing by 10% a year, leading to private hospitals expanding their services and the government reinforcing its policy to drive Thailand as the medical hub of the region.
Meanwhile, the Board of Investment (BoI) offers incentives to attract more foreign investors to use Thailand as a production base for medical equipment. However, it should be noted that an inflow of international companies might intensify market competition and affect the business performance of small producers.
In 2017, the medical equipment market in Thailand was valued at US$1.24 billion. A total of 538 producers were registered with the Department of Business Development in Thailand (as of January 2018) supplying 62.2% of equipment, 18.3% of durable medical equipment, 8.4% of molecular diagnostics reagents and equipment, 2.3% of services and software supplies, and 8.4% in other categories. Thailand is a major importer and exporter of medical equipment in ASEAN.
In 2017, the global medical equipment industry had a total value at US$361 billion and is expected to reach US$436 billion in 2020 with an average growth of 6.4% annually. Durable medical equipment made up the majority with 76% of the total market, while supplies accounted for 20% and diagnostics reagents and equipment sets for 4%.