Opportunities in China

Medical devices

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly changed the world and transformed our way of life. From the speedy development of vaccines to a more digitalised approach to working, humanity has learned just how agile it can be in a crisis.

As the saying goes, out of adversity comes opportunity, and nowhere has that proved to be more evident than in the medical technology sector in China which has grown, in part, due to high demand from China for mid to high-end equipment. This growth presents a significant opportunity for Northern Ireland’s Life and Health Sciences industry to export its cutting-edge products to meet this demand.

Devices that simplify the prevention, detection and treatment of illness and disease are not new, yet the pandemic has increased demand for these products. From wearables and implants that can detect and treat health problems to artificial intelligence-enabled imaging and track-and-trace technology, the Med-Tech industry in China is predicted to experience explosive growth over the next five years. This increase in growth offers ample opportunities for Northern Ireland’s Life and Health Sciences industry to export to China.

China’s desire to build a world-leading healthcare infrastructure, reflective of the country’s ‘Healthy China 2030’ vision, has led to significant investment in the medical devices sector, which currently accounts for nearly 20% of the global market. According to Deloitte, the China market was on track to be worth RMB800 billion (US$124.2 million) by the end of 2020. This upward trend was evident even before the pandemic. Since 2015, China’s medical devices sector’s average annual growth rate has remained above 20%, significantly outpacing its GDP.

A post-COVID upgrade of the public health infrastructure is high on the agenda of the Chinese local and central governments. Some provinces have injected up to RMB 150 million (USD 23 million) into health projects. Echoing the central government’s push to increase China’s biosecurity capacity, provinces have announced their own policies to establish a minimum requirement for Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) – a reliable method for detecting viruses - laboratories and ICU equipment by both region and hospital.

"Invest NI provided invaluable support as we further expand into China. They acted as an intermediate in finding potential partners, scheduling virtual meetings, and identifying opportunities suitable to our increasing product range for the medical simulation market"

Aisling Fitzpatrick, TruCorp

The pandemic has also brought healthcare into sharp focus for China's citizens. Demand for online medical consultations soared, along with the emergence of drugs retailing on some of China’s leading e-commerce platforms.  Tech giants such as Tencent, Alibaba and JD.com leveraged their big data expertise to enter the healthcare sector, establishing new distribution models for medical devices and health services.

However, there is undoubtedly room for Northern Ireland’s medical devices companies to take advantage of China’s desire to overhaul its health systems. There are currently more than 26,000 medical device manufacturers registered in China, with the medical equipment sub-sector dominating the market, accounting for nearly 57% of the entire medical devices' market.

Due to a shortage of R&D and advanced manufacturing capabilities, most Chinese manufacturers are producing low value-added products, and therefore China still relies on imported mid to high-end medical devices. Deloitte recently revealed more than 80% of high-value medical devices used in China’s top Tier 3A public hospitals [1] are produced by international companies such as Medtronic, Johnson & Johnson, Siemens, GE and Philips. This reliance on overseas products provides an excellent opportunity for Northern Ireland’s R&D intensive, innovative and high-tech medical device manufacturers to enter the market.

Northern Ireland’s Life and Health Sciences sector is uniquely placed to provide quality technology solutions for China’s healthcare sector. It has built a strong reputation in recent years, offering cutting-edge research in medical device technology - underpinned by its robust collaborative approach between industry, academia, and clinicians. The industry also boasts a highly developed R&D ecosystem, and its innovation in this sector has seen the emergence of a growing list of companies exporting overseas.

How can Northern Ireland’s medical devices companies bridge the gap and begin exporting to China?

Invest Northern Ireland’s Asia Pacific team can provide insights into the Chinese marketplace through market research, market scoping, market entry planning, and identifying and targeting potential customers and distributors.

“With the help of Invest NI, we were able to carry out 25 meetings in one week on a recent visit to China. On top of this, their continued help with translation, cultural nuances, and even marketing and display material is invaluable, and as a result the outcome of any trip is successful and positive"

Dr Jason McKeown, Neurovalens

We provide a presence for Northern Ireland companies at international trade and networking events in the region and we can secure vital meetings and pitches for clients. For example, in May 2021, we represented several Northern Ireland companies at the China International Medical Equipment Fair (CMEF), a medical equipment exhibition that connected international brands with potential clients, including private companies, regulators and government agencies.

At this event we facilitated a webinar where two Northern Ireland companies (TruCorp and Randox Toxicology) pitched their products and services to over 200 leading medical devices companies, investors, and distribution partners in China.
Invest NI’s in-market team in China is also engaging with Life and Health Sciences sector associations, participating in key conferences, and collaborating with Chinese state-owned companies.

We also support leading private companies to further promote Northern Ireland’s sector offering in China.

Upcoming events within the life and health sciences industry in China include:

  • A diagnostic focused webinar with CACLP (China Association of Clinical Laboratory Practice Expo) in September 2021;
  • Clinical Trial, an industry-focused event for global clinical development leaders in November 2021 and
  • A virtual sector visit to China in January 2022

To find out more about these events, China’s Life and Health Sciences sector and the support we can provide to NI companies, visit investni.com, speak to your Client Executive or email beijing@investni.com.

[1] The Ministry of Health of the People's Republic of China - hospitals in China have been classified in a 3-tier system that recognizes a hospital's ability to provide medical care, medical education, and conduct medical research. A Public Hospital Tier 3 Class A is the top tier.

About the CWA

Chinese Resource Centre

Explore Belfast

The heart of the Chinese Community in Belfast is the Chinese Resource Centre, which runs a year round programme of events and activities.

The Chinese community in Belfast has a history stretching back over 50 years with a legacy of fine food and a rich cultural contribution to the city.

Today the centre is also home to many other ethnic minorities and their rich tapestry of traditions and languages. The local community has been revitalised by an annual influx of Chinese students. The high point of the calendar is the Chinese New Year celebrations which have become a feature of life in the city.

No visit to Belfast is complete without sampling some of the best Chinese food and one of the many events and activities from Dragon Boat Races to local cultural exchanges with the two main traditions in the city.

CWA Tai Chi

Explore the iconic Belfast City Hall and Grounds, with its stunning architecture, museum and amazing history.

Explore Belfast

Make the Chinese Resource Centre a central part of your Belfast experience.

The Chinese Resource Centre and the Chinese Welfare Association provide a range of visitor services from providing a base for business and other delegations with translation services and meeting space through to the VISA Centre and contact with Chinese Consular services to offering advice and tours to visitors.
The Centre has safely reopened  with the return of our services and activities.  Please check the website for full details and COVID related advice.

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CWA virtual resource centre

Helping You to Find Us

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Titantic Centre

Explore Belfast

The Titanic Centre has become a world class tourism destination as it tells the timeless story of the Titanic in a new and exciting way.

The iconic building which houses the Titanic Belfast has become almost as recognisable as the ship itself.

Located beside the Titanic Slipways, the Harland & Wolff Drawing Offices and Hamilton Graving Dock – the very place where Titanic was designed, built and launched, Titanic Belfast tells the story of Titanic from her conception, through her construction and launch, to her maiden voyage and subsequent place in history

Explore the iconic Titanic Centre in the heart of Belfast Maritime Mile as you step back in history.

Explore Belfast

As well as discovering the history and context of the Titanic there are a range of other tourist offerings such as the Sensory Experience embedded in the Titanic Belfast experience.

Titanic Belfast, named the World’s Leading Tourist Attraction at the prestigious World Travel Awards in 2016, is located beside the Titanic Slipways, the Harland and Wolff Drawing Offices and Hamilton Graving Dock, the very place where Titanic was designed, built and launched in 1912.

Titanic Belfast tells the story of the Titanic, from her conception in Belfast in the early 1900s, through her construction and launch, to its maiden voyage and subsequent place in history.

The self-guided Titanic Experience extends over nine interpretive and interactive galleries, which explore the sights, sounds, smells and stories of RMS Titanic, as well as the city and people who made her.

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Belfast City Hall

Explore Belfast

The City Hall has been at the heart of Belfast since it was built. Open the door to the past with a tour.

The home of Belfast City Council, City Hall was designed by the architect Sir Alfred Brumwell Thomas and completed in Portland stone in 1906. It symbolised Belfast’s coming age and its newly granted city status. 

The full ‘City Hall experience’ begins with the ever popular Official Guided Tour. This allows you an extraordinary glimpse into areas not usually accessible to the general public within the beautiful Baroque Revival building. Ascending the Grand Staircase, the experienced guide will lead your group through a series of rooms including the Irish-oak panelled Council Chamber and Italian and Greek marble clad Rotunda highlighting stunning civic regalia and historic portraits along the way.

Explore the iconic Belfast City Hall and Grounds, with its stunning architecture, museum and amazing history.

Explore Belfast

Make the most of your time in the city with easy to use tourist apps which will bring the experience to the palm of your hand.

City Hall will reopen its doors to visitors from this Monday 6 September, with the return of our free visitor exhibition.
It will be open 9.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (last entry 4pm), and all visits must be booked online at www.belfastcity.gov.uk/exhibition
And, while our popular public tours have not yet reopened, you can download the free ‘City Hall visitor app’ to enjoy a self-guided tour of the building’s stained glass windows, statues and artworks.
It’s available from both Google Play and the App Store, where you can also buy multi-language audio content (£1.99) to further enhance your visit, with additional information and interviews with local residents.
The Bobbin coffee shop will reopen later this autumn, but check the website for full details and COVID related advice.

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Good Relations Week

Good Relations Week 2021 takes place from will run from Monday 20th to Sunday 26th September 2021.

This year we have re-introduced physical events, alongside an expanded virtual offering.

The theme is ‘Brighter Days Ahead’ as we shine a light on the peace building and cultural diversity efforts of young people and the challenges they are facing.

Our programme of inspiring community relations events will celebrate the work of people and communities in creating and sustaining good relations.

Huge thanks to all local groups and organisations who’ve helped us put together a dynamic programme of highly impactful events for you to enjoy

Whatever you do, don’t miss it!

Good Relations Week 2021 will celebrate the peace building and cultural diversity efforts of young people and the challenges they face with a creative programme of over 200 cross-community and multicultural events. Co-ordinated by the Community Relations Council, Good Relations Week 2021 will run from Monday 20th to Sunday 26th September with a highly impactful programme of over 200 face-to-face events, virtual events and online content. For more information on the Good Relations Week 2021 programme of events visit www.goodrelationsweek.com.
Pictured with Peter Day from the Community Relations Council (front, left) and Clare Kearney (front, right) and Conor Valente (front, centre) from the Belfast Skate Collective, a local group that is providing a voice for the skating community, is local skaters Nicole Smallwood; Adam Patton, Caleb Court, James Ferris, Taylor Allen, Reuben Hughes, James Hannigan, Jake Murray and Matt McCopippin.

It s a Walk in the Park

A new ‘Civic Dollars’ mobile phone app, developed with support from Belfast City Council and the Department of Justice means that people can now earn rewards for the time they spend in their local parks and open spaces.

The Connswater Community Greenway will be the first area to go live in the free pilot scheme, followed by other parks across the city. Funded through the ‘Amazing Spaces, Smart Places’ project, the scheme is part of the council’s Smart Belfast programme, which is exploring how data and innovative technologies can create smart solutions for urban challenges and help to improve city services.

Lord Mayor Councillor Kate Nicholl said: “Exercising outside and connecting with nature really can help our mental wellbeing. So it’s fantastic that, thanks to this pilot scheme, people can now earn Civic Dollars for the time they spend in our parks and open spaces.  They can enjoy rewards including Translink DayLink passes and tickets to visitor attractions or support their local community group by donating Civic Dollars to them.

“The Civic Dollars app also provides a promotional platform for local businesses, services and events - and the insights we’ll gather will help us to better understand how people use green spaces, improve park management, reduce vandalism, littering and anti-social behaviour and enhance the visitor experience.”

A number of Belfast-based community groups can benefit from donated Civic Dollars, exchanging them for various services such as business training, professional advice and activity centre sessions.

The ‘Amazing Spaces, Smart Places’ project is jointly funded by Belfast City Council and the Department of Justice via the Department for the Economy’s Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI), which enables the public sector to tap into new ideas and technologies created by innovative local businesses. It also gives innovators a great opportunity to trial and test their prototype in a supportive real-world environment as part of their product development.

Justice Minister, Naomi Long said: “Effectively managing public open spaces is a key element in developing a safe community, where we respect the law and each other.

“The Civic Dollars pilot scheme holds the potential to deliver real benefits to local communities by using technology to improve the safe use of our parks and open spaces; something that is so important for both physical and mental health. Congratulations to all involved in this innovative pilot scheme and I look forward to hearing how it has progressed as more people use it in the coming weeks and months.”

Stephen McPeake, CEO of local company Moai Digital Ltd and creator of the Civic Dollars app, added:“It’s been fantastic to have this opportunity to apply a tech based solution to Belfast City Council’s challenge of better managing their parks and open spaces.  And it’s wonderful to know that local people, businesses and community groups will all benefit as a result when people download and use the Civic Dollars app.  Life these days is about so much more than just money – it’s about improving our communities, and our own health and wellbeing – Civic Dollars provides the perfect solution with a new social currency. It’s a win win all round!”

The CivicDollars app can be downloaded free from the App Store or Google Play Store.  The pilot will run until the end of Summer 2021.

For more information about the project, visit www.belfastcity.gov.uk/amazingspaces

You can now earn rewards every time you visit Waterworks, Falls and Ormeau Parks by downloading the CivicDollars app.
They're the latest green spaces to join our Smart Belfast project, co-funded with the Department of Justice through the Department for the Economy’s Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI).
Sign up to get one 'dollar' for every 30 minutes spent in the popular spaces - running, walking, cycling or just meeting up with mates!
Then swap your rewards for Translink day passes, tickets to visitor attractions and more, or earn extra dollars by reporting issues like littering or vandalism.
The scheme is already up and running along Connswater Community Greenway where it's proven a big hit, with lots of users also donating their dollars to local community groups who can, in turn, use them for free training and other services.
Download the free Civic Dollars app now from the App Store or Google Play Store.

Keeping Belfast Clean

It's our city, so lets keep it pretty! We are working with local communities and businesses to reduce litter and encourage recycling to make our city cleaner and greener
Look out for  anti-litter message on buses, shelters and radio stations this month, urging us all to do our bit to keep Belfast's streets litter-free.
City Council teams are working hard to maintain a clean city, now that more of us are out and about again, but they need your help too!
Please use street or park bins provided to dispose of coffee cups, disposable masks, cigarette butts and other items.
If there's no bin available, or the nearest one is full, please bring your rubbish home.
Remember - if you're caught dropping litter, you could face a £80 fine.

Windows to the World

Tourism Ireland gifts Game of Thrones® stained-glass windows to Belfast

With 70% of the production of Game of Thrones® taking place in Northern Ireland, the award winning series will be a key feature of Northern Ireland's tourism offering for years to come. The amazing scenery and the skills and services which Northern Ireland provided made the show the success it has become. It is fitting then that the windows which depict scenes from the series will have a permanent home in Belfast

Tourism Ireland has gifted its six ‘Glass of Thrones’ stained-glass windows to Maritime Belfast Trust (formerly Titanic Foundation Limited). The windows are now on permanent display in the Titanic Quarter and are part of Belfast’s Maritime Mile.

The beautifully crafted windows were installed around Belfast back in 2019 – to showcase and celebrate Northern Ireland as ‘Game of Thrones® Territory’ to millions of fans of the TV series around the world. The windows – which each depicted a key House from the show – marked a decade of filming and production in Northern Ireland and the installation was timed to coincide with the broadcast of the final season. The campaign – called ‘Glass of Thrones’ – was created by Tourism Ireland and Tourism NI, in partnership with HBO.

As travel from overseas to Northern Ireland begins to restart, the ‘Glass of Thrones’ installation will be an important new attraction for fans of the hit TV series visiting Belfast and Northern Ireland. Tourism Ireland will take every opportunity to promote the ‘Glass of Thrones’ in Belfast’s Maritime Mile, as well as our Game of Thrones® filming locations, in its promotions around the world.

Shane Clarke, Tourism Ireland’s Director of Corporate Services, Policy & Northern Ireland, said: “We are delighted to announce the handover of our ‘Glass of Thrones’ to Maritime Belfast Trust. It is really wonderful that these beautiful pieces of art are now permanently on display in Belfast, as part of the Maritime Mile – enhancing our ‘Game of Thrones’ offering and creating a new attraction for fans to come and visit. As overseas travel to Northern Ireland begins to restart, Tourism Ireland will continue to highlight Northern Ireland around the world, reminding people that Northern Ireland is ‘Game of Thrones® Territory’. Our aim is to spike their curiosity about the landscapes and locations featured in the series and inspire them to come and explore them for themselves.”

Kerrie Sweeney, CEO of Maritime Belfast Trust, said: “The six Glass of Thrones installations have become key features of the Maritime Mile, celebrating the role Titanic Studios played in the filming of Game of Thrones. We are delighted to work with all our partners, Belfast Harbour, Titanic Quarter Limited, Odyssey Trust and Department for Communities, to feature the landmark artworks on their respective sites, linking our key heritage assets together. Over the last year, we have had over 1,000 local people a day admiring the installations and we look forward to welcoming more visitors and local people to the area over the summer months and beyond.”

Julie McLaughlin, Experience Development Officer at Tourism NI, commented: “Game of Thrones has been transformative for tourism in Northern Ireland and our joint campaigns have captured the minds and hearts of fans around the world, showcasing Northern Ireland as a must see destination. The six Glass of Thrones were installed at tourist landmarks across Belfast and have proved a firm hit. The installations, now a permanent feature along Belfast’s Maritime Mile, give visitors another way to explore the Game of Thrones story in Northern Ireland and to delve deeper into its rich heritage.”

Tourism Ireland’s ‘Glass of Thrones’ campaign in 2019 was seen by more than 4 million GoT fans in ten markets – including Great Britain, the United States, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and Scandinavia. It delivered positive coverage for Northern Ireland worth over £30 million. The campaign was also rolled out by Tourism NI in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Earlier this week, the ‘Glass of Thrones’ campaign won a Bronze Lion award at the prestigious Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in the outdoor category. The Cannes Lions awards are highly coveted and generally regarded as the Oscars of the advertising and marketing world.

Shane Clarke, Tourism Ireland’s Director of Corporate Services, Policy & Northern Ireland; Kerrie Sweeney, CEO, Maritime Belfast Trust; and Julie McLaughlin, Experience Development Officer, Tourism NI, at the Stark window in Belfast’s Maritime Mile.


Giant Promotion

New promotional blitz targets travellers in GB for short breaks and holidays in Northern Ireland

Campaign will be seen by millions and reach 80% of all adults in GB

Tourism Ireland has launched a £5 million, multi-media promotional campaign, to boost travel to Northern Ireland from GB over the coming months. The campaign, which is running under the banner ‘Northern Ireland – Embrace a Giant Spirit’, will be seen by millions and will reach at least 80% of all adults in GB. It will generate demand now and drive bookings for short breaks and holidays in Northern Ireland.

The extensive campaign will include advertising on major TV channels and on catch-up TV sites; digital outdoor advertising at more than 500 locations across GB; ads on popular digital and social channels; a partnership with The Guardian; as well as a busy programme of publicity. Co-operative promotions with air and sea carriers, as well as online travel agents, are also under way.

Economy Minister Gordon Lyons MLA, said:

“Tourism is an enormously important industry for Northern Ireland and a key driver of our economy. In fact, before the pandemic hit us all, 2019 was the best year ever for overseas tourism to Northern Ireland, when we welcomed over 2.2 million overseas visitors, a significant number of which came from the GB market.

“We have a terrific product for visitors on offer across Northern Ireland, including the beautiful Causeway Coastal Route, the historic city of Londonderry, the fantastic lakelands of Fermanagh, and, of course, our capital city, Belfast, with our maritime history highlighted at Titanic Belfast, a truly world-class visitor attraction.

“The GB market is a vitally important one for our tourism industry and I am confident that this campaign will show the best of what Northern Ireland has to offer. With the TV ads alone set to be viewed by almost 13 million people across GB, I believe this campaign will help convince tourists to visit Northern Ireland. Our tour operators, visitor attractions and accommodation providers have worked hard to introduce new safety measures and precautions to help ensure visitors and staff are kept safe.”

Niall Gibbons, Chief Executive of Tourism Ireland, said:

“We are delighted to unveil our new £5 million campaign to promote Northern Ireland in GB – which will highlight our great cities, spectacular scenery and the many things to see and do here. As we begin to rebuild our tourism business from the all-important GB market, our aim is to remind prospective visitors that Northern Ireland is the perfect destination for a short break or holiday. Tourism Ireland will be pulling out all the stops to drive as much business as possible to Northern Ireland over the coming months.”

GB is an important market for tourism to Northern Ireland. Before COVID-19, in 2019, we welcomed almost 1.5 million GB visitors to Northern Ireland, whose visits generated £369 million in revenue.

Pictured at the Giant's Causeway are (l-r) Christopher Brooke, Vice-Chairman of Tourism Ireland; Gordon Lyons MLA, Minister for the Economy; Niall Gibbons, Chief Executive of Tourism Ireland; and Esther Dobbin, Giant's Causeway, at the launch of Tourism Ireland’s promotional campaign to boost travel to Northern Ireland from GB.

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