Stryker Corp. (NYSE:SYK) is betting on the Chinese market with a three-legged approach epitomized by the recent launch of a fully outfitted mobile training center.
The Stryker truck is on course to tour 10 Chinese cities in its first year, including regions with limited access to advanced medical technology and educational resources. It’s outfitted with medical devices and other tools to allow health care providers to get hands-on training and participate in product demonstrations.
The truck is the first of its kind in China, part of a "legacy of firsts" for the Kalamazoo, Mich.-based medical device maker, Stryker’s head of emerging markets Jim Cunniff told MassDevice.
China is one of Stryker’s largest overseas markets. The orthopedics giant is focused on getting ahead of a wave of other med-tech companies targeting the prized Far East market via a three-legged approach: Investing in people, education and innovation.
The company has a presence at several Chinese institutes, including an orthopedic learning center at the Chinese University in Hong Kong, through which Stryker has trained about 1,500 surgeons during the past decade.
Stryker also opened a manufacturing facility in Suzhou in 2009, which could one day become a platform for in-market product innovation, Cunniff told us.
A 13-year Stryker vet, Cunniff sees China as a vital opportunity for the company.
"It’s not a panacea, but it’s a tremendous market and has a sustainable growth trajectory" he said. "Our prospects there are very bright, given the demographics. They have a growing population and a more active population, a ‘perfect storm’ for our type of products and our portfolio."
Eighteen months ago, the world’s 11th-largest medical device maker established its emerging markets division to address growing demand in areas with unique needs, Cunniff added.
"We wanted to have a focused division that was not distracted by what we were doing in many of our existing developed markets," he said. "What we want to do is to not take a cookie-cutter approach to these very significant and very unique markets and make sure we tailor our approach to make sure people feel like we’re making a meaningful difference."
Stryker’s not alone in seeking fortune along the Silk Road. Boston Scientific Corp. (NYSE:BSX) is sinking $150 million into a five-year plan to expand its commercial operations there; Medtronic Inc. (NYSE:MDT) is eyeing mergers and acquisitions and predicting twice as many Chinese employees in the next four years; and GE Healthcare signed a deal for academic, marketing, news and conference initiatives with Beijing-based Concord Medical Services Holdings Ltd. earlier this month.
Stryker isn’t afraid of the competition.
"I think it’s healthy for Stryker. I think it’s healthy for the industry," Cunniff told us. "Having other players participate to really expand the orthopedic market is a good thing."