The 2024 MedTech Forum has kicked off in Vienna, Austria, with MedTech Europe CEO Oliver Bisazza urging visitors to keep a keen eye on the upcoming European Union (EU) elections, as the European health scene looks to compete with its contemporaries in the US and Asia.

Taking to the podium to launch the conference, Bisazza urged attendees that while EU elections are not the most socially and politically gripping, getting involved will be key to keeping the EU-based life sciences sector going as the continent begins to face stricter competition from the medical device companies in the US and Asia Pacific region.

Speaking to the crowd at the opening keynote of the event, Bisazza said: “EU elections are not the trendiest or sexiest of elections when compared with national elections, but they are of critical importance.

“So where is Europe going next? In terms of politics, it could be going in a very fresh new direction very soon. Both at a national level and at the European level. How can medtech companies work with governments to help us all get to where we need to be? To answer that question and inspire a new generation of policymakers who will take power in a few weeks or months, MedTech Europe has released a manifesto.”

The MedTech manifesto calls on European politicians and policymakers to put medical device advances at the forefront of healthcare policy agendas, urging changes such as an overhaul of the current CE-making system with a focus on efficiency and predictability, as well as pursuing EU supremacy when it comes to supporting AI-enabled medical devices while many jurisdictions across the EU, US and UK grapple with the implications of the technology.

At the same time, the manifesto calls on the Europe-wide health industry to develop better resilience to outside impacts in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, focusing on prevention, healthcare workforce retention, and timely access to care. It also calls for a greater increase in the pool of available healthcare professionals.

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Bisazza added: “Today and tomorrow much will be said about what the next five years could, should and must bring. Engage with that conversation because it is very soon that it will be solidified.

“Europe went through much in the previous five years, it has had to manage a historic pandemic, as well as wars in Ukraine and Gaza, massive supply chain disruptions, energy inflation and the rise of protectionism and the rise in various austerity programmes.

“But during those five years, Europe became more agile and resilient. It learned lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic and has put new structures in place to strengthen the continent’s preparedness, while, at the same time, remaining engaged with its trade partners around the world.

“Let me be clear, like many others we too have become concerned from time to time that Europe is trending towards over-regulation. We have expressed many concerns to the EU and policymakers that their very valid leaning indication to regulate, if taken too far, risks ruining Europe’s historic leadership space as the global epicentre of MedTech innovation.

“Despite this, we have reached the conclusion that the EU remains unequivocally attractive, thanks to its vibrant healthcare systems.”