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Hong Kong Hailed as Ideal Hub for Medtech Investment and Expansion

The rapid growth of healthcare spending, combined with its accommodating financial markets, has made Hong Kong the perfect springboard into Asia for new biotech businesses. Acknowledging this, many of the assembled experts at the recent HKTDC Maximising Business Opportunities Through Hong Kong On Healthcare Technology and Investment Collaboration webinar set out to explain how European healthcare start‑ups and other companies could leverage the city’s strategic position to benefit from the rapid growth of healthcare spending within the wider region.

Opening the webinar, Nicholas Kwan, former Director of Research at the HKTDC, summarised the growth potential of medtech, biotechnology and healthcare, saying: “World spending on healthcare is about US$8 trillion a year, roughly 10% of global GDP. One reason for this is aging populations, with the number of people worldwide aged over 65 set to double in the next 10 years.”

As a direct consequence, the global healthcare market is expanding by about 20‑30% a year. While, at present, North America is the largest market, Asia is the fastest growing, having expanded by 150% over the past five years.

Detailing the strengths of the local sector, Kwan said: “Although Hong Kong is very small, it is important. Healthcare is an area where its government is committed to spending more, as highlighted in the recent budget, as well as moves to establish itself as an R&D hub. Hong Kong is also home to two of the top 15 medical schools in the world, with these establishments having close ties to a number of international institutions, including MIT, Stanford University, University College London and Sweden’s Karolinska Institute.”

Keen to highlight the role of Hong Kong when it comes to financing the growth of the healthcare sector was Michael Chan, Senior Vice President of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX), the body that runs the city’s stock and futures exchanges. Back in 2018, the HKEX Main Board rules were changed to attract more R&D‑focused biotech businesses, while also making it possible for mainland Chinese companies to gain a secondary listing in Hong Kong.

Explaining how this has transformed the DNA of the local investment environment, Chan said: “Our well‑regulated financial markets, proximity to mainland China and diverse investor base make HKEX uniquely positioned to support healthcare and biotech companies seeking to finance their R&D and commercialisation plans.”

With this new regime in place, the Exchange has since become the world’s fastest‑growing market in terms of both the number of healthcare and biotech listings and the level of IPO funds raised. There were 75 healthcare listings in the 12 months ending August 2021, which raised $30 billion, while 50 new applications for healthcare listings were received during the period.

Looking at how best to leverage Hong Kong’s advantages, the seminar fielded the leaders of two European medical companies. Tellingly, while they specialised in very different product sectors, both had somewhat similar tales to tell.


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