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Published on: Nov. 3, 2020, 1:11 a.m.
Siemens' focus on innovation for good health
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By Sumit Ghoshal. Contributing Editor, Business India

During the next five years, Siemens Healthineers, a medical technology company associated with the global conglomerate Siemens AG, will invest an estimated €160 million (about Rs1,400 crore) to set up an innovation hub in Bengaluru. It will be located in a new research campus, be placed next to its existing R&D centre and include a state-of-the-art medical imaging factory.

The Bengaluru campus will be one of four innovation hubs of the company, with other centres located in the US, Germany, and China. When completed in 2025, the first phase of the new campus will include 70,000 sq m of office space for the enlarged R&D centre and 5,000 sq m of factory space. It will employ about 1,800 people after it becomes fully operational. 

“The innovation hub in Bengaluru is an integral part of our global network of innovation that will further accelerate our ability to develop effective solutions quickly and with a strong focus on emerging markets, especially in Asia,” says Peter Schardt, chief technology officer, Siemens Healthineers. “The Bengaluru innovation hub will assume increased responsibility for customer centric solutions to serve such markets even better. Special focus is on solutions for the digitalisation of healthcare, which is the foundation for value-based and patient-centered medicine within the region and across the globe”.

Siemens as a group has a long history in medical imaging, starting from its first medical x-ray unit in 1896, the first auto-analyzer used for path-lab tests in 1957, the world’s first real-time ultrasound scanner, and an entire series of CT Scan and MRI machines.

AI-powered solutions

The company has also been a global pioneer in artificial intelligence (AI) for the past two decades. A portfolio of over 45 AI-powered solutions helps clinicians to organise complex diagnostic information applicable to an individual patient. This prevents many errors of diagnosis that result from misinterpretation of patient images.

Internationally, Siemens Healthineers is a €14.5 billion company with a total of 53,000 employees and a presence in 70 countries. They influence patient outcomes through 240,000 touch points every hour in some part of the world. This comes to about 5 million patients, who are benefited every day through its products and devices.

Interestingly, the Siemens announcement is the second in recent months to be made from a global healthcare MNC. In mid-August, Medtronic plc said it was planning to expand its R&D centre in Hyderabad with an estimated investment of Rs1,200 crore over the next five years.

The Medtronic Engineering & Innovation Centre (MEIC), when fully completed, would be the company’s largest global R&D centre outside the US. It would also boost the Telangana government’s efforts to position Hyderabad as a medical devices research and manufacturing hub.

Telangana government officials and Medtronic top executives had been in discussion during the past four years. During his visit to the US in 2016, K.T. Rama Rao, minister for Industries & IT, Telangana, and his team had a meeting with Omar Ishrak, Executive Chairman & Chairman of the Board, Medtronic.

In some ways, it is designed to become a rival to the Visakhapatnam-based Andhra Medical Technology Zone (AMTZ), which has a strong backing of the Central government as well. One of the latest AMTZ offerings is a short two-month course in 3D Bioprinting. There are important differences however between the plans of the two medical technology giants. In the words of Medtronic India MD, Madan Krishnan, the company would continue its focus on its areas of strength – heart disease and neurology. Thus, most of its innovation products would also target these areas of clinical practice. In addition, of course, MEIC would allocate a proportion of its resources for research into the newly developing field of robotics and robot-assisted surgery, he adds.

Siemens Healthineers, on the other hand, would try to develop innovative imaging and diagnostic products across the disease spectrum. Its exertions could, therefore, have a potential benefit for a wider range of clinical specialists and therefore a large segment of the general populace.

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