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The process of becoming an international company is different depending on what sector the company belongs to. New research, from Halmstad University and Jönköping International Business School, with a focus on the medical technology sector, points out the importance of building networks in order to succeed internationally.
The medical technology sector consists to 95 percent of small and medium sized enterprises. Many of them are start-ups, developing breakthrough technology for use in the healthcare sector. The competition is global, and in countries where the domestic market is small, such as Sweden, it is important to get out on the international market.
Although the potential demand for medical technology innovation is global, healthcare systems as well as rules and procedures for how the new technology is financed and implemented varies from each country.
In her doctoral thesis, Hélène Laurell uses the medical technology sector to explore the internationalisation process of young businesses. The results show that the process of coming out on an international market is to a large extent dependent on what sector the company belongs to.
– Understanding the nature of your client, in combination with what type of product you are selling, is of great importance for how quickly and broadly a company should internationalise, says Hélène Laurell.
Working towards institutions makes the internationalisation process more focused, but it also takes longer time.
– The combination of having new innovative medical devices, and to sell them to a complex customer like nation specific healthcare organisations, leads to a complicated sales process. This is especially true when the product needs to be reimbursed, or evidence of various kinds need to be presented before there can be talk of any sales at all.
It is vital for companies in this innovative sector, says Hélène Laurell, to constantly create new networks. For example, it is important to attend medical congresses and fairs. In addition to commercial and social networks, it is also important to have scientific, institutional and opinion creating networks. The company's expertise in technology, marketing, and entrepreneurship must also be complemented with knowledge in finance, science and various regulations.
Text: MARIA NORDSTRÖM, Jönköping International Business School