Australia has a handful of highly successful medical devices companies that compete and win across global markets. A unique set of circumstances, including leading-edge technology, high consumer demand for the product, support from financial backers, business acumen and huge amounts of personal drive to succeed have played a part in the success stories of these companies.1 Many times, companies have succeeded against the odds. When technology-based companies2 do not succeed, Australia misses out on economic and social benefits.
The Medical Devices Industry Action Agenda (MDIAA) provides the medical devices industry sector with an opportunity to position itself for future growth and sustainability, so that more businesses can succeed at home and overseas. This discussion paper sets out as a basis for deliberations some key indicative data that profile the size, nature and competitiveness of the medical devices industry (see ‘The medical devices industry at a glance’, following this summary). Gathering this information has highlighted gaps in industry-specific data and has limited comparative analysis across sectors.
This paper identifies a number of key issues for the medical devices industry, drawn from discussions with industry representatives, Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources research and other sources, and provides preliminary consideration of the issues.
Currently, industry representatives have identified five broad categories under which their key issues fall. These are:
1. Innovation—focusing on the government and industry infrastructure which supports innovation;
2. Capability—at three levels: contribution to health outcomes, structure for accelerated growth, and individual capability;
3. Regulation—clinical regulation and imposition of regulation on therapeutics, costs, and market access;
4. Commercialisation—access to capital, skills and markets;
5. Awareness and education—raising the profile of the industry, improving industry-specific information, and establishing brand identity of medical devices.