During our first morning wandering the exhibit hall, we were surprised to see a team of cheerleaders and an enthusiastic crowd in front of one of the booths. Unlike “booth babes” and other gimmicks commonly seen at tech shows in the US, this exhibit was for one of the many hospitals on the island. We quickly learned that Taiwanese hospitals are an important and highly respected constituent in the med tech industry. Hospitals in other countries, like the US, sometimes get a bad rep for focusing on their bottom line above improving patient care, but from what we could see from the hospitals’ expansive booths, innovation is key.
Whether it was a research idea, a pilot project, or a collaboration with a company, each hospital’s booth showcased an array of medical innovations. One exhibit, called “The Grand Challenge For Doctor-To-Be”, sponsored by the Tzu Chi University of Science and Technology, gave conference attendees a hands-on look on how technology such as VR/AR, smart displays, and digital diagnostic tools, are helping in both medical education and in healthcare.
The Startup Scene is Strong
A med tech conference wouldn’t be complete with exhibits from startup med tech companies. They were scattered throughout the exhibit hall, from all stages ranging from proof-of-concept to late-stage.
Many hopeful Taiwanese startups were parked in an area called the “InnoZone”, where TechCrunch-style pitch sessions took place all throughout the duration of the conference. While this editor’s lack of Mandarin prevented him from understanding most of what was being pitched, the amount of activity and level of interest in the startup space showed that these small companies were still important. And the opportunities at the conference to potentially collaborate with large companies and partner with hospitals literally across the aisle put these ventures in a good position to succeed.
The Taiwan Healthcareᐩ Expo at its core was a trade show. There were business deals constantly taking place, and the expo provided both a physical and virtual platform for these relationships to be made. But unlike other trade shows we’ve attended in the past, the Healthcareᐩ Expo was a showcase of the best of Taiwanese innovation. We enjoyed seeing not just products, but partnerships in action. The synergy between startups, big tech companies, and hospitals was evident, and it serves as a model on how other countries can better innovate to improve the lives of their people.