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How important is innovation in medical technology?

Innovation is more than merely important to medical technology; it is actually the essence of what the industry does. This drive to innovate is important on a number of levels.

With product lifecycles in the sector averaging only 18 months between improvements, the drive to advance and innovate within the industry is continuous; probably only the semiconductor and information technology (IT) industries have shorter product lifecycles. As an indication of the industry’s commitment to innovation, in 2013 more than 10,000 patent applications were filed with the European Patent Office (EPO) in the field of medical technology – equivalent to 7 % of the total number of applications – more than any other technical field. Since 2001, the number of EPO filings in the field has doubled.(1).

Innovation in medical technology improves peoples’ lives, and brings the benefits of treatment to individuals whose conditions may previously have been difficult or impossible to treat. At the same time, innovation is not only improving products, it is improving the way that healthcare is delivered, making healthcare systems more efficient and more sustainable.

Furthermore, the continuous innovation within the medical technology sector is helping to drive the competitiveness of Europe as a knowledge-based economy, bringing increased prosperity to the region.

(1) European Patent Office, Eucomed calculations. Medical technology as defined by World Intellectual Property Organization (based on the WIPO IPC-Technology concordance as revised in January 2013)