Olympus plans to boost R&D to support ‘Healthy China’ vision
Published: Aug 17, 2023 08:55 PM
Hidenao Tsuchiya, Olympus Corporation executive director and CEO of Olympus China Photo: Courtesy of Olympus

Hidenao Tsuchiya, Olympus Corporation executive director and CEO of Olympus China Photo: Courtesy of Olympus

Under the outline of the "Healthy China 2030" Plan, Japan's Olympus Corporation, a leading manufacturer of optical and digital precision technology that has taken root in China for many years now, remains committed to innovation and R&D of medical devices, actively empowering China's national medical, health and social welfare, making more practical contributions to China's health cause, and helping realize the beautiful vision of a "Healthy China." 

Hidenao Tsuchiya, Olympus Corporation executive director, regional representative and chief executive officer for China, said that the Chinese market has always been an important strategic region and growth engine for Olympus worldwide. The company's sales in the Chinese market account for 13 percent of the company's global sales.

Tsuchiya said that since its introduction to China in 1972 as an important bridge between China and Japan, Olympus has pioneered endoscopy in China, and continues to combine advanced endoscopy, optical technology and digital imaging technology, with its products widely used in various clinical diagnosis and treatment links.

Now, Olympus has multi-functional medical equipment products that can diagnose and treat about 100 diseases, including both medical and surgical products, which can accurately serve gastroenterology, respiratory, ENT (otorhinolaryngology), urology, gynecology and other medical departments. 

From 2013 until the COVID-19 pandemic, Olympus' sales in the Chinese market were growing by double digits every year. In particular, growth in the medical sector has been remarkable. According to data released at the 13th China Medical Devices Industrial Data Release Conference, today, Olympus still ranks first in the Chinese soft endoscope market with a share of 68.29 percent. 

Boasting an excellent quality of products, excellent service satisfaction and high market share, Olympus has won first place in customer service satisfaction for soft endoscope for 12 consecutive years, in addition to winning the "China Medical Equipment Product Gold Award" and "Most Socially Responsible Award" for many years, which shows medical institutions and customers' high recognition of Olympus medical products. 

Also in May, it won the Beijing Municipal Government's "2023 Capital Labor Award." This showcases that the company practices its commitment of "safety and peace of mind" and marks that the company's achievements have been recognized by government authorities and society, reflecting its leading position in the medical equipment industry.

In order to better take root in China and demonstrate the strong resilience and growth vitality of the Chinese market, Olympus formulated its "China Strategy" in 2022. With the rapid recovery of China's economy in the post-COVID-19 era, Olympus continues to explore the most appropriate development model for China, Tsuchiya said.

While on the path to economic recovery, China has also continued to improve the business environment for foreign-owned enterprises. China's first Foreign Investment Law, which came into effect on January 1, 2020, lowered the threshold for foreign-invested enterprises to enter China by ensuring fair competition for foreign-invested enterprises, exempting them from levy, and protecting their legitimate rights and interests such as intellectual property rights. The measures have filled Olympus with long-term confidence in the Chinese market, Tsuchiya said.

In order to deepen integration into the domestic market to support the construction of the "Healthy China 2030" plan, Olympus established a manufacturing factory in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province on March 10, marking the first time the company had set up such a base for medical device products in China.

"This is an important milestone in Olympus' 'China Strategy,'" Tsuchiya said.

"Since last year, we have held frequent meetings with the municipal government of Suzhou, and thanks to the great cooperation of Suzhou, we were able to build our first medical factory in China," Tsuchiya said.

"Now we design in Japan and manufacture in China, but in the future, we will try to boost research and development in China. We will always talk with Chinese doctors and make new products in China that Chinese doctors need," Tsuchiya noted.

He said that the base will strengthen manufacturing according to the characteristics of the Chinese market, set up and expand R&D, with the aim to become a comprehensive strategic base integrating R&D, procurement, production, sales and service, so as to benefit more people with high-quality medical care.

While enjoying China's preferential policies toward foreign-invested enterprises, Olympus has been paying back society. During the COVID-19 pandemic in February 2020, Olympus donated a total value of 3.5 million yuan ($487,000) of money and materials, including dozens of flexible tracheal intubation fiberscopes (LF-TP), biological microscopes and other items, and also arranged for its employees to support affected areas to quickly complete installation, commissioning and delivery work to help medical workers save lives and fight COVID-19 in a timely manner. 

In the post-pandemic era, people are paying more and more attention to health, especially disease prevention. With the aging of the population and China's "Healthy China 2030" plan, as well as the further popularization of the "early detection, early diagnosis and early treatment" concept, medical services have gradually shifted from treatment to prevention, and China has increased investment in prevention of chronic diseases, early screening and other comprehensive prevention and treatment fields. 

"Cancer is the largest treatment area for Olympus products. If cancer can be detected at an early stage, treatment is easy, and the survival rate is high. Therefore, we hope that Olympus products can really contribute to the improvement of health and life expectancy in China if people here can have regular checkups with the Olympus medical equipment," Tsuchiya said.

It is worth noting that Olympus is not only selling products, but also providing solutions to cultivate doctors and train them over how to use the company's products safely, according to the Japanese chief of Olympus China.

"We have institutions based in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou to train and assist doctors where young doctors learn how to use our products," Tsuchiya said.

In the post-pandemic era, Olympus is also coordinating exchanges between Japanese and Chinese doctors to introduce Chinese technology overseas, as well as US and Japanese medical technology to China, he noted.

In the future, Olympus will continue to implement its "China Strategy," further increase investment in scientific and technological innovation, move toward a higher dimension of localization, and help make people's lives healthier, safer and more fulfilling, the chief of Olympus China stated.