It has been 35 years since Professor Colin Sullivan and colleagues at the University of Sydney developed the first continuous positive airway pressure device, giving birth to global medical solutions leader, ResMed.
The device represented a world first in successful, non-invasive treatment for obstructive sleep apnea.
Later, in 1989, Peter Farrell founded ResMed to commercialise a device for treating a major subset of sleep-disordered breathing, and operations have grown dramatically ever since, with innovative product lines and expansion into respiratory medicine and cardiology.
Today, ResMed sells high quality products globally for every step of the patient pathway, from diagnosis to treatment.
ResMed employs about 5,000 employees worldwide, operates in 100 countries, and has manufacturing facilities in Australia, France, Singapore, Malaysia, China and the US. It achieved revenues of $US1.8 billion in fiscal 2016.
The firm is advancing innovative “internet of things” technology in sleep and respiratory medicine. More than two million patients are remotely monitored every day, and ResMed says its 5,000-strong team is committed to creating the world’s best tech-driven medical device company while saving healthcare costs and, most importantly, changing the lives of people with respiratory conditions.
ResMed’s Andrew Price, President of Global Innovation and Operations, says the nature of ResMed’s business means it is well-placed to have a view on Australia’s global competitive position.
He says recent attempts to make the country more internationally competitive — for example the Federal Government’s innovation agenda’s focus on start ups and small business—may overlook opportunities elsewhere.
“The innovation focus is an admirable one and start ups have a role to play but so do more established businesses. A bigger business such as ours has the capability to see high technology from start to commercialisation, so we are more likely for it to succeed, and we are more likely to be able to deliver a return to the economy.”
Mr Price warns that in some areas, conditions in Australia are generally not as competitive as they need to be, for example, in STEM, where Australia has lost its relative leadership position as other countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia and China catch up in producing strong graduates.
Countries like Singapore, USA and Ireland also excel in incentivising with favourable tax rates, grants or other measures.
Mr Price says Australia is still a good source when it comes to engineering and R&D talent. This is particularly important as ResMed likes to co-locate its R&D and manufacturing together.
“We think that gives us advantage in quality and time to market which are some of the things we differentiate on,” he says.
ResMed also considers factors such as protection of IP, government stability, free flow of products and access to ports when deciding on where it locates investments.
“Australia is really good on these criteria. It is just on overall cost that it’s generally not as favorable,” Mr Price says.
On Tuesday (October 25, 2016), ResMed revealed a 13 per cent increase in global revenue to $US465.4 million in the September quarter 2016.
Excluding acquisition in April of healthcare software company Brightree, revenue for the quarter grew five per cent to $US432.4 million. The company’s gross margin increased to 57.8 per cent on manufacturing and procurement efficiencies.
“We had a solid start to our fiscal year,” said Mick Farrell, ResMed’s chief executive officer.
“We have an exciting pipeline of new products, and look forward to bringing them to market,” he said. The company increased its investment in research and development 27 per cent to $US34.4 million.