Healthcare transformers: the medical technology sector

Many thanks to Susan Bird for this really interesting blog post on career opportunities in the medical technology sector. It gives a really great overview of some of the job roles available so read on to find out more about this fascinating sector -Rebecca 

I found a great labour market report which details the landscape of the medical technology, medical biotechnology, pharmaceutical and industrial biotechnology sectors in the UK. The Bioscience and Health Technologies Database report collates information on these sectors and is updated annually to produce an estimate of the economic picture of the industry. The latest update to this report (May 2015) shows that the UK life sciences industry:

  • Employs an estimated 183,000 people across the UK, with 72% employed in companies producing products for the health care market and 28% in the service and supply chain
  • Generates a combined estimated turnover of £56bn;
  • Comprises an estimated 4,398 companies and their sites developing, manufacturing and marketing products and services to the UK and global markets
  • With almost half of employers based in the Southeast and East of England, there are concentrations of activity in other areas of the UK.

The medical technology sector is more widely dispersed across the UK with an estimated 3,268 companies. It generates an estimated turnover of £18.1bn and employs an estimated 88,000 people across the UK, making it the largest employer of the sectors covered in this report.

Emerging medical technologies are medical technology products that can diagnose, treat and manage disease and injury, and improve quality of life, often at point-of care. The range of types of products is huge – from cardiovascular implants, joint replacements and wound care technology, to insulin monitors, diagnostic tests and full body scanners.  There is growing interest in the use of diagnostics to predict or detect at an early stage many conditions which, if treated at their outset, can avoid the need for more costly interventions at a later date. Cardiovascular risk, cancer, diabetes, infectious diseases and osteoporosis are just a few of the areas where real breakthroughs are proving possible.

The three largest product segments are single use technology, in-vitro diagnostics, and orthopaedic devices. Over 2009 to 2014 the sector showed positive growth trends in both employment and turnover.

  • In-vitro diagnostic technology is the fasted growing product segment for employment and wound care & management the fastest for turnover.
  • The majority (97%) of companies are SMEs employing fewer than 250 staff and 83% have turnover <£5m. There are 144 companies with turnover >£50m per annum.
  • 82% of the companies in the sector are UK-owned – these account for 55% of employment.
  • The Southeast of England is the location for 16% of companies and 19% of employment. Significant concentrations of economic activity are also evident in the East of England, across the Midlands, the Northwest of England, and Yorkshire & the Humber
  • Diagnostics companies range from large multinationals such as Bayer and Roche to smaller companies such as CIGA Healthcare and Una Health.

The British In Vitro Diagnostics Association (BIVDA) is the national industry association for companies with major involvement and interest in the in vitro diagnostics (IVD) industry and represents both manufacturers and distributors who are active in the UK.

It is not just an association of UK diagnostic companies, all IVD companies, irrespective of their national origin, are eligible to become members. BIVDA members currently employ over 8,000 people in the UK, with a total industry turnover of approximately £900 million. The website has an extensive directory of member companies and distributors.

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