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About What Global Medtech Manufacturers Need To Copy From India and China


Gone are the days when European or U.S. manufacturers would simply take products designed for use in high-end markets, reduce the features and, consequently, make them cheaper for emerging markets.


This kind of minor adaptation is not working any more. Instead Western Companies need to rethink products with local conditions in mind.


Chinese and Indian companies have understood the opportunities in their markets and have been innovating for this segment building “good enough” solutions for down to 10% of the costs of western products. The core of this frugal innovation is to limit a product to essential features and use of off-the-shelf components whenever possible. Rather than pushing a technology to the market, western companies need to “work backwards” from the market, producing only devices the customers are able to pay for.


GE’s John H. Welch Technology center in Bangalore, for instance, developed an electrocardiogram (ECG) device for the local market costing less than a tenth of a similar device in developed countries. “Traditionally they would build it in-house, develop all the technology from scratch with high quality standards. Instead, they copied domestic competitors using off-the-shelf components, The device needed a Printer, for example, so researchers used a bus ticket printer. For the keypad they used a component from a telephone.”


But the benefit doesn’t end with the emerging market, thanks to reverse innovation. After being developed for India, the device now has FDA approval and is used in the U.S. for emergency applications. There are already products succeeding in Western markets that were originally developed for emerging countries.


(Based On Interview given by Prof. Jaideep Prabhu, Cambridge Centre for India and Global Business, to EMDT; Ref. link : )

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