Tumours, thyroid nodules and varicose veins: to the layman, these medical conditions may at first seem to have little in common. A treatment that has previously seen little use in Germany is now enabling them to be handled in a non-intrusive way, and it is planned to use it more frequently in future.
ECO Medical Instruments bases this treatment on a technology that most people would associate with their kitchen: microwaves. The high-frequency radiation can heat up the water in our food within minutes. In the same way, it can warm up fluids in the cells in our body.
The medical technology company uses this approach in its "microwave ablation" technique. This technology heats the water in the cells of harmful tissue, brings it to the boil and so destroys the tumorous material. This is a technology that can be applied to all kinds of pathologies today. Examples include some types of liver, lung, bone, breast or kidney tumours, and also thyroid nodules and varicose veins.
"To perform the treatment, we feed a thin needle to a specific point in the tissue. It only emits microwaves from its tip. This enables the doctor to be very precise. Just a pinprick is needed", said Ran Yin, Managing Director of ECO Medical Germany GmbH, the Chinese manufacturer's new Bremen subsidiary.
That makes the procedure much less intrusive than surgical interventions or radiation therapies. There are no scars, there are fewer complications and in some cases, only out-patient treatment is necessary, said Yin. Metastases can also be treated.
Another important field of application is thyroid conditions: every third adult suffers from them at some point in their life. Here, microwave ablation is also a suitable non-scarring, non-toxic, minimally invasive treatment method.
ECO is the market leader in microwave ablation in the PRC, and is active in 80 countries world-wide. Although the procedure is still relatively new, it has gained more and more acceptance internationally in the last few years. "In Germany, however, many doctors are still fairly conservative in their approach and so prefer surgery. We have opened our new subsidiary in Bremen because we now want to take a more targeted approach to sales and make direct contact with clinics and medical practices", said Yin, explaining why the company had chosen the Hanseatic city.
The company employs around 500 staff in the series production of its devices at its headquarters in Nanjing, PRC. Alongside microwave ablation, ECO is also active in other areas such as high-frequency medicine and medical laser applications, for which it also offers its products.
There were several reasons for the company to choose Bremen as the location for its first subsidiary. "I got to know ECO's Sales Director a while ago and we have been working closely together ever since. For that reason, I was given the opportunity to take responsibility for setting up the Bremen operation. The city offers us many benefits. Bremen is in a central location and has excellent transport connections. From here, we can manage sales to German-speaking countries, the Netherlands and Scandinavia. Bremen also impresses with its logistics infrastructure and proximity to major ports. For this reason, we will also build a dispatch warehouse here in the future. Another plus point was that I was actually already living in Bremen", said Ran Yin, who has lived and worked in the city on the River Weser since 2013.
Bremeninvest provided support for the company's move to Bremen, when it came to formalities such as opening a company account and providing contacts and information about how to found a subsidiary. "Without Bremeninvest, we would not have been able to set up our site so quickly, or avoid problems. That really helped us achieve our aims", summed up Yin, who enjoys living in Bremen and enjoys the ease with which different parts of the city can be reached, and the green cityscape.
Yin works closely with her Chinese colleagues, even though the time difference is a bit of a hurdle to overcome. "When a company opens its first foreign subsidiary, there's a lot to learn. That's because many processes in Germany run differently from in the PRC. But of course that's what makes it all so exciting. Our office is a bridge between the two countries", she explained.
ECO hopes that its new subsidiary will bring it closer to its European customers, providing a way for it to get feedback from them directly and then rapidly bring product improvements into production.
The medical technology company is also active in another German town, as well as Bremen: Magdeburg. ECO is currently collaborating with Magdeburg University in a research project to develop its devices. "We want to keep growing. Research projects and clinical studies will enable us to increase our expertise and expand our portfolio", Yin said in conclusion.
It is also planned to enlarge the site in Bremen: two more jobs in Sales have already been agreed and more specialist research and development staff should follow later. "Bremen has great potential. We are happy to be here and to be able to make our contribution to health with our devices."
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