As Mitsubishi Electric enters the Indian healthcare sector, it is prepared to go for the long haul, as it pitches its advanced devices. Rajeev Sharma, Head – Corporate Services & Strategic Planning at Mitsubishi Electric India, explain to ENNs Rachita Jha the roadmap that Mitsubishi has adopted for its Indian foray
Japanese electronics major Mitsubishi Electric is eyeing the indian market with interest. Though it has had a presence in India in sectors such as auto and infrastructure sectors, it is now poised to enter the burgeoning Indian healthcare market with devices that are manufactured in Japan. Mitsubishi has introduced its Particle Beam Therapy (PBT) system to be used in treating cancer in India. It is also launching its colored medical printers for MRI and CT scans. India has a dubious distinction of having among the highest cases of cancer in the world, and the number is feared to rise. But bleak as this outlook maybe, it has presented an opportunity to Mitsubishi Electric to venture out of Japan – where it has a 65-70 percent market share in this sector – for the first time. Rajeev Sharma, Head – Corporate Services & Strategic Planning at Mitsubishi Electric India explains that Mitsubishi Electric has been present in the medical business indirectly by supplying the medical printers to MRI OEMs.
In India, along with medical printers, it brings it superconductor magnets that are used in making the MRI machines, as well as its PBT systems. Sharma says that PBT is the most advanced system for treating cancer. On their Indian experience so far, Mr Sharma says they started off by selling fast moving products like medical printers. But for superconductor magnets and PBT systems, the company is still doing a feasibility study on how to have a sustained business for those products, as the size of transactions in each deal is big. He says that many cancer hospitals in India are keen on buying PBTs, but have not allocated the budget for it. In absence of a steady supply, Mitsubishi Electric plans to get the materials directly from Japan, with the India office doing the marketing and technical research. Right now, the business model for these products for any player is not sustainable, because the demand varies every year, he says. Sharma explains the rationale for importing PBT instead of manufacturing as one of perceptions of quality. He says Mitsubishis strengths are reliability and quality, which they have been able to achieve in their Japanese plants. In shifting to Indian manufacturing, they may lose out on these USPs, hence the decision to import the machines rather than build them locally.
We dont foresee that happening in India if we manufacture here, because many people still rely on Made in Japan products, he says. The reason for the long time to make a purchase is because PBT systems deal with radiations. This brings in the Department of Atomic Energy and the Indian Government in the picture, as the hospitals need to get licenses. Sharma says getting approval from DAE has proven to be a big bottleneck for most hospitals, and so the decision to purchase can take as long as two years. For its Indian foray, Mitsubishi Electric has chosen to bring its products carte blanche here. It has foregone any plans of customizing them to sit Indian conditions. Sharma explains this is because the PBT systems are customized to the end users needs every time they are sold. He says the PBT systems are sold as a basic model, with a list of features that can be added to them. This fluidity in setting up the systems works in clients favor, as they dont end up with features that they dont need, and also, they can control the costs.
“For its Indian foray, Mitsubishi Electric has chosen to bring its products carte blanche here. It has foregone any plans of customizing them to suit Indian conditions”
Mr Sharma is clear to point out that the PBT does not do diagnosis of cancer, only the treatment. He says that most of the cancer hospitals that Mitsubishi India talked to wanted to know if the machines could also help in diagnosis, as in India, diagnosis of cancer happens at a very later stage. Another product that Mitsubishi Electric India is promoting has run into an unexpected problem. Mitsubishi sells its superconductor magnets for MRI machines. It counts major healthcare devices manufacturers in Japan and Europe as its clients. But it was in or a surprise to learn that India does not have a single MRI manufacture for a market of its size. Most MRI machines sold in India are retrofitted, refurbished or imported. Even the big hospitals in metro cities use machines that have been retrofitted. Mitsubishi, as a policy, only sells its superconductor magnets to MRI OEMs.
So while the particular business has not taken off, Mitsubishi hopes that in the future, some middle range MRI OEMs may come up in India, as the healthcare sector expands. In fact, so confident is Mitsubishi of MRI OEMs, that it is part of their overall growth strategy in India. As Mitsubishi looks to get a foot hold in the Indian healthcare space, it is not looking to invest in Indian R&D.
Sharma explains, Right now, we cant think of R&D, because we cant even sell the product in India. Also, diseases dont have any geographical boundaries, so whether the R&D is done in India or in Japan does not make any difference on the product specifications. There is no point in setting up an R&D center for these products in India. But Mitsubishi does plan to tie up with research firms in India. They will be procuring data like the requirement in India, how their product is performing etc to improve their products. But he is clear that investing in Indian R&D is not a part of the groups overall plan. As Mitsubishi Electric starts its innings in the Indian healthcare space, it is bringing in products that will revolutionize the industry. That it is willing to take long term risks is a testament to the confidence it has in the Indian market.