Webinar on “Value Chain Analysis of Medical Devices Industry in Penang”

In this webinar, Dr Lee Siu Ming discusses the current state of the manufacturing product segment and value chain in Penang’s medical devices industry, its evolvement over time, different sub-segments in the industry, and linkages among different related industries.


Tuesday, 4 August 2020 – ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute organised a webinar on “Value Chain Analysis of Medical Devices Industry in Penang”. The webinar was delivered by Dr Lee Siu Ming, a senior analyst (Socioeconomics and Statistics Programme) at the Penang Institute, Malaysia.

Dr Lee Siu Ming highlighted the healthy mix of Malaysia’s foreign and domestic medical devices approved investments since 2014. Dr Cassey Lee moderated the webinar. (Credit: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)

Dr Lee Siu Ming began his presentation by explaining the four main products within the medical devices industry, namely — disposables, surgical instruments, therapeutics and diagnostic equipment. He then provided some export statistics in the industry. There was a slight shift in export composition over the past six years from disposables to surgical instruments and therapeutics. He compared the calculations of Malaysia’s medical devices export provided by Penang Institute and Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) and opined that Penang Institute’s estimates are higher as more items were included. Both estimates show a similar trend.

Dr Lee Siu Ming highlighted the healthy mix of Malaysia’s foreign and domestic medical devices approved investments since 2014 and the medical devices manufacturing industry economic contribution in Penang. He illustrated this further by showing a snapshot of medical devices manufacturers’ investments over the past five decades. He commented that there is an increasing trend in activities, and even though the number of investments is not significant, it is the quality that matters.

Dr Lee Siu Ming continued the discussion by providing a mapping of the product category in the industry. He stated that despite the high concentration of foreign firms in the surgical instruments and therapeutics categories, local firms were able to concentrate in disposables largely due to the presence of firms in the latex-based industries. Next, he described the supply chain of medical devices companies in Penang in terms of research and product development, components manufacturing, assembly/production, distribution and marketing, and post-sales services. Additionally, he made policy recommendations for the industry. These include product upgrading and diversification, process upgrading, trade and technology promotion, backward and forward linkages, flow of information and academia-industry dialogue.

The webinar concluded with Dr Lee Siu Ming engaging in a question and answer session. In the session, he shared his views on issues in the medical devices industry such as the extent of dependency on foreign workers, the impact of US-China trade conflict, the research and development ecosystem and activities, and the export destinations of medical devices in Penang.

Over 60 participants attended the webinar. (Credit: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)