By 2035 India will be the world’s most populated country and its share of GDP could match the United States.

As India’s population grows so does its healthcare sector. It is already worth $200 billion – three and a half times higher than 2008.

And this is not just big companies, there are 4,892 healthcare start ups in India. In the last five years this ecosystem has raised $672m.

This morning Asialink Business and MTPConnect released a report outlining the state of the market and future growth potential for Australian firms to service the market.

These institutions are non-profit organisations which provide support to their members. The former helps Asia-focused export businesses and the latter serves med-tech firms.

Thirteen hundred Australian medical companies already export to India and collectively this equates to $6.5 billion annually.

But Asialink Business and MTPConnect believe there is plenty more room for growth.

“No other single market offers more growth prospects for Australian industry,” Asialink Business CEO Mukund Narayanamurti said.

“The opportunities for innovative Australian med-tech companies and organisations is a prime example of how Australia can leverage its strengths, be future-focused, and respond to India’s growing need for world class services.”

MTPConnect boss Dan Grant said,”now is the time to step-up our engagement with healthcare stakeholders in India and position Australia as a preferred international partner.

“It is vital that we build our sector’s capacity to engage with international markets like India for mutual social and economic benefits.”


The challenge: To go low cost

Grant admitted India’s per capita spend on medical devices was very low by global standards. The average global spend is $63 per person but in India it is just $4.

However, he says this is an opportunity if firms can devise low-cost solutions that could be adopted en-masse.

“Low per capita spend on medical devices is helping to drive the need for low-cost health solutions,” Grant said.

“This means ‘frugal innovation’ — the creation of new or improved products and services at the lowest cost without compromising quality — will be paramount to success.”

The rapidly rising demand for low-cost healthcare solutions stems from government health spending struggling to keep up with demographic changes, according to the Asialink Business and MTPConnect report.

This is a change from the status quo where med-techs have been focused on high-income countries that can afford to pay for devices.

But while incomes are higher than two decades ago, prices have had to come down to ensure demand can be met.


Local partners

Asialink Business and MTPConnect suggest partnering with local start ups and incubators is a good way for an Aussie med-tech company to get its foot in the door of this burgeoning market.

The Bangalore Bioinnovation Centre partners with foreign companies. Bangalore is India’s technology hub because it hosts thousands of start ups as well as local and global giants.

Companies could also look to collaborate with local universities.

The Asialink Business and MTPConnect report noted that Monash and leading university IIT Bombay had a decade-old joint research academy.

Earlier this year, UNSW and the George Institute created an accelerator program for start ups looking to enter India.