Often times journalists go into interviews with pretty much a clear picture of what the story is going to be. There are few surprises – that is until that one kernel of information spills from the lips of a source and it completely steers the story in a different direction and gets you to look at a subject differently.
Well that happened to me during the Southeastern Medical Association Conference held here in Atlanta recently. One of the panelists was speaking during a session called successful pathways to medical device innovation, when all of a sudden he paused - and started talking about China and its potential impact on the med-tech landscape here in the U.S.
Instead of the same old song and dance of China becoming an emerging market and ripe opportunity for U.S. companies to take part in, the speaker made it sound like the nation was a competing market that was going to eventually take share away from U.S. device makers.
And these weren’t the musings of one lone med-device executive.
Recently I spoke with consulting firm Sagentia’s CEO Brent Hudson, who echoed similar statements – albeit nearly at the end of our conversation.
He noted that the Western med-tech firms are aware of China becoming a dominant player in the space and said that med-tech companies are trying various approaches to get a handle on the expansion into the Western market.
“I don’t speak to a single company that isn’t worried about it. Some are trying a partnership approach with say, Chinese device manufacturers,” Hudson told me. He added that others were trying a more dominant approach.
I think the take away from all this, is that the deeper story isn’t so much that these plush new emerging markets are waiting for U.S. markets to come to them. I think the real key point is, these overseas ‘emerging markets’ are competitors and could have the potential to take away significant market share from U.S. firms.