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The rise of 3D-printed healthcare products in the GCC

The rise of 3D-printed healthcare products in the GCC

3D printing and digital design software has effectively disrupted the standardised medical business model that has existed for decades

Healthcare is an entirely personal matter, with no two people being alike. However medical treatment takes the entirely opposite approach, grouping patients together and offering ‘one size fits all solutions’.

Think about knee implants. We all have different gaits, weights, and heights. However, knees are offered only in a limited variety of sizes. Or consider pharmaceuticals, we all have different dosing requirements, yet our tablets are all the same.

This standardised medical business model is now being disrupted, with 3D printing and digital design software being used in combination to change the economics of production and allowing, for the very first time, mass customised manufacturing.

As a result, companies are now able to offer personalised medical products developed uniquely for just one patient.

Introducing such new and emerging technologies is challenging in any country across the world, particularly in the medical sector where the stakes are so high, however doing this in the GCC region poses its own unique challenges and benefits.

Much as the diversity of the GCC is part of its appeal, communicating with multi-cultural medical professionals – doctors and dentists from Europe, America, India, and Asia all with different training and methodologies – poses a challenge when it comes to introducing a new technology.

The challenges of diversity apply to staffing as well. With a very small local workforce, employees need to be internationally recruited and set up to live in the UAE. The HR challenges of identifying talent, verifying qualifications, and assessing capabilities are even more pressing when pertinent to an area of new technology and industry.

Despite these hurdles, 3D printing has attracted a lot of investment, largely due to the encouragement offered by the state for innovation in general and 3D printing in particular.

The ease of doing business in Dubai is evidenced by the growth of 3D printing. The license to undertake such a venture didn’t exist in 2016 but, within two weeks of receiving the first application, an appropriate licensing framework was developed by the government to create opportunities for 3D printing businesses.

Furthermore, government entities are actively encouraging private sector partnerships to support the introduction of new technologies. The Dubai Health Authority, for example, has created an Innovation Centre to create a platform for collaboration between private businesses and public healthcare.

Dubai Chamber of Commerce has also developed a market access program that seeks to connect young businesses with potential corporate customers.

These initiatives and many others have built ‘Brand Dubai’ which, for businesses who choose to headquarter here, gives credibility when trying to grow in the GCC region. This, coupled with excellent logistics, means that businesses can test  business models and concepts locally before scaling regionally.

Julian Callanan is the managing director of UAE-based Sinterex

 

 

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