Data and Facts
Medical technology makes a significant contribution to the development of fast, precise and gentle diagnostic procedures as well as new therapies with fewer side effects. It is of major importance not only for the healthcare system but for industrial development as well. The market for medical technology products and systems is one of the most attractive growth markets worldwide: In industrial countries, it is growing by five to seven percent per year; in Asia (excluding Japan) and Latin America, growth exceeds twelve percent. Global turnover in 1998 was approximately 140 billion US dollars (of which 62 billion US dollars in the USA, about 40 billion US dollars in Western Europe and 18 billion US dollars in developing countries). In Germany, 100,000 people work in the medical technology industry, which is largely characterised by small and medium-sized companies. The annual turnover is currently about 10 billion euro, of which half is earned through export. The German medical technology industry invests approximately ten percent of its turnover in research and development and is therefore a leader in innovative processes.
What Does the BMBF Do?
Medical technology research and development today is funded and directed toward application- and patient-oriented needs. The medical technology activities in the Health Research Programme are closely linked with other BMBF programmes in order to better make the advantages available to patients. To this end, the BMBF integrated the previous individual measures of the various specialised programmes into a medical technology framework concept. In addition, the participating disciplines shall be networked together more intensively. Risky but innovative research approaches are also given a chance to be realised. The BMBF seeks to strengthen and expand the growth market of medical technology with all of these funding activities. Health economic considerations will play a major role in the future in all new medical developments. For this reason, the BMBF supports the development of methods and instruments for the evaluation and assessment of medical and medical technology procedures.
Innovation Competition for Medical Technology
On October 28, 2010, the BMBF prize for medical technology was awarded for the eleventh time. 137 applicants presented themselves to the international jury of experts. 15 winning teams were selected. The projects will be funded with a total of 9.1 million euros. All winners are marked out by high future applicability and the close cooperation of science and economy.
In addition to projects from practice-oriented fundamental research, the contest was open since 2006 to industrial research ventures.
Innovative Aids in Rehabilitation and for Disabled Persons
By innovative technical aids, lost functions and capabilities of affected persons can be restored or - as far as a restoration is not possible any more - supported or replaced. Given an increasingly ageing society, there is an ever growing need for an innovative technology of rehabilitation and assistance, in order to facilitate an independent life in activity and social participation for the affected persons. The BMBF reacts to that need by this funding measure.
A further aim lies in interdisciplinary networks that integrate the competences from academic and industrial research present in Germany. Setting up proper co-operations will make a decisive contribution to strengthen the attractiveness of Germany as a research place and the competitiveness of German enterprises. In the funded projects it is compulsory that partners from technological development as well as medical application co-operate, and it is desired to integrate industrial enterprises active in research. Where possible, organizations of patients and disabled persons should be included.
Innovative Individual Approaches in Medical Technology
Innovative individual approaches in medical technology are also supported, such as the research consortium on retinal implants. An electronic retinal prosthesis is being developed for patients with a pigmentary retinitis disease that performs the function of the degenerated retina and restores limited vision to the patients. Four workgroups from twelve universities and non-university institutes throughout Germany currently belong to the consortium.
Another research consortium, the Virtual Institute for Computer Support in Clinical Radiology, is occupied with the development of software assistants for computer-based diagnosis support and its application in practice. This consortium consists of the research institute MeVis, six radiological departments at universities and community hospitals as well as the companies Siemens Medical Technology and MeVis Technology.
The brochure "Step into the future Medical technology supported by the BMBF" (November 2002) as PDF file.