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by Joachim Schäfer, Managing Director, Messe Düsseldorf
on COMPAMED 2016 – High tech solutions for medical technology
(November 14 – 17, 2016, Düsseldorf, Germany)

What medical breakthroughs will the future bring? This is possibly one of the most exciting questions. Year after year, the annual staging of MEDICA, the world's leading medical trade fair and COMPAMED, the top international industry platform for medical technology industry suppliers, takes us a bit closer to finding the answer. This year's concurrently held events from November 14 – 17 in Düsseldorf, Germany will show once again that the products developed by medical technology suppliers can have a huge impact in terms of providing better care to patients in hospitals and the community.

A look at the latest trends and cutting-edge products provides plenty of examples. The basic general trend is in favor of smaller, lower-cost medical devices, with an increasing preference for smart devices with a connectivity option. Accordingly, medical technology companies require suppliers to deliver ever finer, more light-weight yet powerful components, modules, chips and radiofrequency modules, along with the matching energy and data storage systems. Contract manufacturing and outsourcing of services in every element of the process chain (including development, production, supply chain management, quality management and spare parts management) is a growing trend. Whether the medical technology industry customer is a major corporation or small family-run business, suppliers can support them as expert partners.

A closely coordinated approach helps to ensure best practice and efficient processes in the development, manufacturing and marketing of medical devices. Exhibitors – now more than 800 – appreciate COMPAMED so much because of the opportunity to meet the right people – in this case the almost 5,000 exhibitors from the MEDICA trade fair taking place on the same site at the same time, and who represent the suppliers' (potential) customer base. With its special profile, COMPAMED in halls 8a + 8b at the Düsseldorf exhibition center mainly draws technical buyers, R&D and packaging specialists, production managers, engineering designers and process engineers. The fact that 60% of trade visitors – 18,800 at last year’s staging – travelled to Germany from other countries to attend COMPAMED is a good indication of the event's international standing.

Product development inspired by digitization
The increasing pace of digitization in healthcare is dictating what happens in and around medical technology product development these days. In many areas, the hardware has been relegated to the status of merely a deliverer of processing power. The real innovation is in the software. Mobile app-based solutions for medical imaging and cardiology are two good examples. High tech ultrasound transducers, sensors to monitor vital signs – just add a smartphone or tablet connection and you have ready-made fully functional technical solutions for many medical purposes.

Suppliers exhibiting at COMPAMED are on the top of their game with innovations like these. The big push towards digitization and connectivity is resulting in "bespoke" innovations with varying degrees of vertical integration in the development process to meet the customer's specific requirements, for example regarding user interfaces and navigation for medical devices and systems. This includes matching touch screens, displays and complex electronics for wireless data transmission. Medical technology industry customers are showing a keen interest in uniform, standardized operating and control concepts for a range of different systems and models. The big advantage for healthcare users lies in not having to learn a completely new set of functions when they use different devices and switch between them.

Digitization in combination with miniaturization has obvious benefits in laboratory medicine as well. A handy point-of-care device suitable for bedside use replaces an entire hospital lab for blood tests. And with the input of the suppliers and research facilities exhibiting at COMPAMED, it looks like there are plenty more advances yet to come.

Take microscopy: Many small labs are still analyzing samples virtually "by hand" and with the trained eyes of large numbers of staff. Either automatic analyzers are too specialized or – if designed to cover a broad spectrum of tests – simply too expensive. Based on the latest findings showing that diseased tissue emits and responds to light in different ways, comparatively low-cost automatic scanning methods can now be developed for an increasing number of tests. A new application to diagnose prostate cancer was quite a sensation at last year's COMPAMED.

Small, sophisticated, powerful
Laboratory medicine is not the only area to benefit from the innovative products from the suppliers. Minimally invasive surgery is another. Selected innovations underscore the complexity of modern surgical instruments. A COMPAMED exhibitor recently presented an MRI-compatible microendoscope with ultrasound functionality, equally suitable for diagnostic and treatment purposes. The integrated endoscope head measuring just a few millimeters is equipped with two light guides and an ultrasonic transducer capable of destroying tumor cells on the basis of acoustic waves. This innovation uses dedicated new materials designed for medical purposes, another area strongly represented at COMPAMED. The endoscope is part ceramic, part plastic to avoid interference during MRI imaging. The new instrument with its high tech components is designed for examining the brain in people with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's or cancers.

Expert fair and forums cover the entire process chain
COMPAMED's exhibit categories covers the following main areas: components for medical technology (including electronics, parts, tubes, filters, pumps, valves), materials, micro- and nanotechnology, contract electronic manufacturing services (EMS), complex manufacturing and equipment partnerships (e.g., OEM – original equipment manufacturing), packaging and services.

In combination with the world's largest medical trade fair, MEDICA 2016, COMPAMED covers the entire value chain in medical technology – from single component to quality control measurement methods to sterilized and packaged final product. This globally unique trade fair-combination is a key factor for the success of both events.

Accordingly, two forums are devoted to relevant trends in the medical technology supply industry. The COMPAMED HIGH-TECH FORUM (hall 8a) hosted by the IVAM Microtechnology Network focuses on microsystems technology, nanotechnology, production technology and process control. Trends such as wearables, sensors and printed electronics are reflected in this forum's program.

The COMPAMED SUPPLIERS FORUM (hall 8b) organized by the trade magazine DeviceMed, features speakers from leading international companies and organizations who will talk about the latest developments along the entire medical technology process chain. Every discipline is represented here on every scale from low-cost disposables to sophisticated implants. An annual highlight is the presentation of the DeviceMed Awards, which honor special achievements and innovations of medical technology suppliers in various categories.

COMPAMED is likely to get a further boost from the change in event’s length and show days introduced last year. Since 2015, COMPAMED is a four-day event (instead of three days) and takes place from Monday to Thursday to coincide completely with MEDICA. The new timing gives COMPAMED exhibitors valuable extra time for discussing new and current projects with customers and potential clients from the medical technology industry.

As in previous years, only one ticket is necessary to visit both MEDICA and COMPAMED.

Information about MEDICA 2016 is available online at:

Information about COMPAMED 2016 is available online at:

MEDICA and COMPAMED dates: November 14 – 17, 2016
Opening times: 10:00 am - 6:30 pm daily
Location: Düsseldorf fairgrounds, Germany

Messe Dusseldorf North America Located at 150 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 2920, Chicago, IL. Phone: 312-781-5180. .