MEDICA and COMPAMED: Medical technology business is profiting from strong appeal to international visitors
High proportion of decision-makers, unique variety of innovations and a high-calibre accompanying programme
Photo: Messe Düsseldorf/ ct
After four days of business, MEDICA and COMPAMED in Düsseldorf delivered impressive confirmation that they are excellent platforms for the worldwide medical technology business and the top-level exchange of expert knowledge. “Contributing factors were the strong appeal to international visitors, the high proportion of decision-makers, the high-calibre accompanying programme and the unique variety of innovations along the entire added value chain”, summarised Erhard Wienkamp, Managing Director of Messe Düsseldorf, looking back at business in the halls of the internationally leading medical trade fair and the flagship event for suppliers in the medical technology industry. From 13 to 16 November, the 5,372 exhibiting companies at MEDICA 2023 and their 735 counterparts at COMPAMED 2023 offered a total of 83,000 healthcare professionals (up from 81,000 in 2022) impressive proof that they know how to realise modern health care in doctors’ offices as well as clinics – from the supply of high-tech components to high-performance consumer products.
“About three quarters of our visitors travelled to Germany from abroad. They came from 166 countries. Both events are therefore not only leading trade fairs in Germany and Europe, the figures also demonstrate their great importance for global business”, said Christian Grosser, Director Health & Medical Technologies at Messe Düsseldorf. More than 80 percent are significantly involved in important business decisions in their companies and institutions.
The “push” by MEDICA and COMPAMED for cooperation and international business is of significant importance for the industry. This is emphasised by current reports and statements from industry associations. Even if the medical technology market in Germany remains the unchallenged number one with a volume of approximately € 36 billion, the export quota of the German medical technology industry is assessed at just under 70 percent. “MEDICA is a good marketplace for the strongly export-oriented German medical technological industry to present itself to its (potential) customers from all over the world. It attracts many international visitors and exhibitors”, said Marcus Kuhlmann, Head of Medical Technology at the German Industry Association for Optics, Photonics, Analytical and Medical Technologies (SPECTARIS).
Innovations for better health – digital and powered by AI
Whether at the expert trade fair, conference or professional forums, the main focus this year was on the digital transformation of the healthcare system in the context of the growing “outpatientisation” of treatment and networking among clinics. Another trend is solutions based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and supporting systems, for example robotic systems or solutions for implementing processes that are more sustainable. The innovations presented by exhibitors included an AI-controlled wearable to improve sleep quality (by stimulating the brain through precise neurofeedback signals), an energy-saving yet effective cryotherapy procedure as well as robotic systems for diagnostics, therapy and rehabilitation – from robot-aided sonographic examinations and cardiovascular surgery without physical contact of the instruments as they navigate through blood vessels to the upper body mobilisation of bed-ridden patients.
Top speakers “spiced up” specialist topics and provided orientation
The highlights of each MEDICA, in addition to the numerous innovations, traditionally also include the multi-faceted accompanying programme with celebrity visits and presentations. Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach participated (by video call) in the opening ceremony of the accompanying 46th German Hospital Day and in the discussions concerning the major hospital reform in Germany and the significant changes this will bring to the structure of available healthcare.
The “hot topic” of artificial intelligence was discussed in numerous sessions and from a variety of different perspectives in the conferences and panel talks that accompanied the professional trade fair. Globally renowned AI experts, among them Bart de Witte, Prof. Paul Lukowicz and Prof. Dr Aldo Faisal provided the necessary scientific background. The issues were both very specific, for example how ‘ChatGPT’ could provide medical use (for example by “translating” complicated phrases in letters by doctors into a commonly understood language), and of a more general nature. Bart de Witte, as a specialist for digital transformation in healthcare, addressed, among other things, the “greater whole” in his keynote speech at the MEDICA HEALTH IT FORUM. He currently sees the use of AI in healthcare as having arrived at a very critical junction and advocates for a “democratisation” of medical AI. The storage of medical knowledge in digital form should not be the exclusive domain of a few technological giants. Instead, it should be made available for public access. If not, the potential for using medical AI would also be very limited.
Digital innovations – start-ups are causing a significant stir
The programme on stage at MEDICA had many further highlights to offer. Among these were the finals of the 12th MEDICA START-UP COMPETITION (on 14 November). In the annual competition for outstanding digital innovations, this year’s winner in the final pitch was the start-up Me Med from Israel with an immunoassay platform for performing highly sensitive, fast, multiplex protein assessments. In the meantime, a developer team from Germany took first place at the finals of the 15th ‘Healthcare Innovation World Cup’: Diamontech introduced a patented, easy-to-use tool for non-invasive, painless measurement of blood sugar levels.
COMPAMED: Key technologies for the medicine of the future
For anyone interested in seeing the performance capabilities of suppliers in the medical technology industry, Halls 8a and 8b were a must-see. Here, during COMPAMED 2023, about 730 exhibiting companies from 39 countries presented an array of innovations that demonstrated their specialised competence regarding key technologies and their use in medical technology, in medical products and in medical technology manufacturing. The breadth of topics in the five worlds of experience ranged from micro components (e.g. sensors) and microfluidics (e.g. technologies for managing liquids in the smallest spaces, for use in test applications within laboratory medicine) to materials (e.g., ceramics, glass, plastics, composite materials) to sophisticated packaging solutions for cleanrooms.
Two expert panels integrated into COMPAMED offered a deeper look at current trends in technology, both regarding research as well as development of the procedures and novel products on exhibition. Further, there was a lot of practical information on relevant foreign markets for medical technology and on regulation requirements to be met in order to achieve marketing authorisation.
“I am happy to see that there was again a strong focus on international cooperation this year at COMPAMED. Especially in times of global crises, I think this is very important indeed. The exhibitors at our joint booth, too, are happy about the high international proportion of visitors and very happy with the quality of these contacts”, said Dr Thomas Dietrich, Executive Director of the IVAM International Microtechnology Business Network, in his positive summary of the trade fair.
Messe Düsseldorf is one of the most successful trade show companies in the world. About 40 trade shows, including 20 world-leading shows, are held at its 613,000-square-meter (6.6 million-square-foot) exhibition center on the banks of the Rhine River. Every year, the international market leaders and top decision-makers of various sectors come together in the 18 exhibition halls to present and discover innovations and to exchange ideas and network. Messe Düsseldorf's areas of expertise include “Machinery, Plants and Equipment” (including drupa, K, interpack, glasstec, wire and Tube); “Retail, Trades and Services” (EuroShop, EuroCis, ProWein); “Health and Medical Technology” (MEDICA, COMPAMED, REHACARE), “Lifestyle and Beauty” (BEAUTY, TOP HAIR); and “Leisure” (boot, CARAVAN SALON). In addition, the subsidiary Düsseldorf Congress hosts numerous conventions, corporate events, conferences and meetings each year. Outside Germany, Messe Düsseldorf organizes or participates in 65 events. The corporate group’s global network consists of 77 foreign representatives for 141 countries – including six international subsidiaries.