Companies from Oulu take health innovations to China


Health companies from Oulu spent a week in Nanjing, China, last month looking for new business partners and checking opportunities for entering the local market.

Oulu has grown to be the second biggest health technology centre in Finland, and it has a well-earned reputation for developing health innovations. In terms of health and communication technologies, this city has a lot to offer for both national and international markets. Oulu-based companies provide world-class expertise and life-changing health innovations, which define a new era for global healthcare.

During the stay in Nanjing, entrepreneurs from Oulu learnt more about the Mini Silicon Valley (MiNiSV) ecosystem and new business opportunities it may bring. However, the main goal was to strengthen the partnership between Oulu and Nanjing on research, education, development and investment.

‘China is considered as one of the best places to invest. The Nanjing International Healthcare Area has huge business potential for Finnish health technology, as dozens of new hospitals are being built here. Negotiations with some companies have already started,’ said Heidi Tikanmäki, Key Account Director, Health and Life Science at BusinessOulu.

Oulu and Nanjing have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), an agreement to collaborate in developing innovations and talent in health and life science, business and research.

‘The MoU agreement opens additional entry support, increased funding access and enhanced legitimacy. This has invaluable meaning in connecting health & life science companies from Oulu to the Chinese market,’ added Professor John Meewella, CEO of MiNiSV ecosystem in Nanjing.

According to Professor Meewella, the Oulu-Nanjing cooperation, which is facilitated by the MiNiSV ecosystem, is built upon the foundational pillars of the Triple Helix Concept (THC). This brings a lot of new opportunities for Oulu in terms of education, research and business. MiNiSV focuses on the health and life science sector as well as on integrating research and education. This ecosystem is currently involved, for example, in the Nanjing Medical City and Comprehensive Cancer Care Center projects.

’Access to prospective customers at low costs, zero risk and in a very short time’

Mika Sipilä, CEO of ProWellness

The ideas behind the visit in Nanjing varied from creating a strong network of contacts between the Nordic countries and Nanjing to boosting health tech business and paving the way for Finnish innovations to the Chinese market.

‘We’ve made great new contacts with other Nordic companies, and we’ve gotten to know the MiNiSV ecosystem people we’ll be working with. We’ve also increased the visibility of our company,’ explained Erasmus van Niekerk, CEO of SEP Solutions.

One of the most important parts of the program was a visit to the Drum Tower Jiangbei International Hospital in Nanjing where the International Comprehensive Cancer Center is being established. This project’s total investment is worth about 3,3 billion RMB and brings concrete business opportunities for health companies that will be invited to join in.

‘Earlier this year, we discussed starting a clinical trial at a local hospital in Nanjing, and we managed to confirm this during that trip. Our next step is to continue the process of localizing our product for the Chinese market,’ said Mika Sipilä, CEO of ProWellness.

Entering the market and building effective business relationships in China may be challenging. That’s why a foreign company needs support from a strong local partner.

‘We were able to formalize an agreement with a local, influential and resourceful Chinese business partner in less than 4 months after the very first meeting. With the Mini Silicon Valley ecosystem’s help, we got access to prospective customers in a completely new market. We achieved this at low costs, zero risk and in a very short time,’ concluded Sipilä.



Joanna Seppänen

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