As a number of Singapore-based companies move into medical device production, government agencies are identifying the sector as a key growth area. Products which local companies have moved into recently include airway devices, infusion pumps, and gas detection equipment. These companies are seeking to establish original equipment manufacturer (OEM) relationships with existing Western medical device firms.
Singapore has not typically been thought of as a likely site for medical device manufacturing, probably because of its high labor costs. However, Singapore’s trade promotion agency, International Enterprise Singapore (IES), believes they have advantages in quality control, intellectual property protection, and engineering talent. Some companies have sought to transfer expertise in other fields, such as electrical engineering and quality control, to help develop high-level medical device capabilities. The government estimates that 15 local companies have now received ISO 13485 certification. IES recommends that manufacturers try to break into the market for parts for large, complex, low-volume devices which are harder to produce in low-wage countries, such as X-ray machines and CT scanners. For simpler devices, where price competition is fierce, it suggests that they also take up engineering, design, and supply-chain functions, forging strategic and comprehensive partnerships.
To help encourage and facilitate sourcing relationships, IES has organized a number of trips between Europe and Singapore to bring together local and Western firms. Also, IES, the Economic Development Board, and the Standards, Productivity, and Innovation Board have created the Medtech Local Supplier Group, which facilitated a number of supply agreements last year.