German Medtech SME resilient in crisis

Medical technology made in Germany is in demand around the globe. The medtech company VBM says it is growing despite the challenges posed by the energy crisis, inflation, and labor shortages.

Medizintechnik, Ventilator
© Brothers

VBM has a reason to be optimistic. The Sulz-based SME has been selling airway management systems, accessories for anesthesia, and intensive care and tourniquet systems since 1981. VBM reports that worldwide demand for its products remains high.

The outlook is based on sober statistics. VBM says that during the Corona pandemic demand drove record company turnovers of EUR 31 million in 2020. That is 14 percent more than the year before. Even though this fell to EUR 27 million in 2021, VBM’s managing director Carina Bertram says, “We’re nevertheless very satisfied and we’re still on our growth course.” 

VBM currently employs about 190 people. Like other German medtech companies, exports play a big role, with two-thirds of its products being sold abroad. Europe has the largest share in this business, at 71 percent, while around 13 percent of VBM’s products go to the US.

These statements came during a visit to VBM by the medtech cluster organization Medical Mountains. It promotes networking and supports all players in the medical technology industry around Tuttlingen. Founded in 2010, Medical Mountains works to foster dialogue, consolidate industry strengths, and establish platforms for exchange.

The managing director of the regional chamber of commerce and industry (IHK) Thomas Albiez took part in the visit due to the IHK’s membership in Medical Mountains. In conjunction with Brexit, Bertram noted a trend to set diverse licensing requirements for medical products in some, non-EU countries. She said these bureaucratic hurdles were increasing, which would make exporting more difficult for some.

Medical Mountains is engaged at the European level in countering these barriers. The organization’s working groups help its more than 260 members to develop approaches to complex challenges. Albiez says, “What one cannot do alone, a group working as a community can. Networking is the order of the day.”

Medical Mountains is just one cluster in one part of Germany. There are nearly ten more in other regions. To learn about them and the strength of German medtech, a good place to start is HEALTH MADE IN GERMANY’s Medical Technology Industry Profile.