Elekta’s innovative precision radiation therapy solutions are life changing for people living with cancer. With a mission to improve patient lives by working in collaboration with their customers and partners, being able to operate all around the world has extended this reach. Time is always an imperative within the medical sector; while companies want to get their products into new markets quickly to reach as many patients as possible, there are still important regulatory and legal requirements that need to be addressed before this can happen.
As a Swedish company looking to establish in South America, Elekta initially needed a low-risk solution that would support a local presence while also providing help with market research. The first market they started with was Brazil, and they have followed with Columbia and Chile.
Antonio Ponce, Elekta’s VP for South America said: “When I started at Elekta, my first office was at Business Sweden in Brazil. On the first day, I had a desk, a computer, mobile phone, and I could start the real work immediately: engaging lawyers and hiring people. For six months we worked from Business Sweden until we opened our Elekta office.”Business Sweden is a facilitator. It wasn’t just an office, it has been market research, identifying and connecting with the right hospitals for Elekta, and engaging with the Ministry of Health through their government networks.
The physical and practice office support was just the start, with Elekta taking advantage of the opportunities and proximity of working closely with the Business Sweden team.
“Business Sweden is a facilitator. It wasn’t just an office, it has been market research, identifying and connecting with the right hospitals for Elekta, and engaging with the Ministry of Health through their government networks,” explained Ponce.
New country, new challenges
For many Swedish companies, starting in a new country presents challenges. And those challenges are often unique for the company, depending on the industry, products, and local requirements. For Elekta, registering their medical devices require them to navigate unknown processes and paperwork, but also identifying and participating in government tenders. The need to understand the technical specifications of these tenders and how Elekta’s products would fit into tenders was critical. In the early establishment phase for Elekta, using Business Sweden’s services fast tracked this process.
Explaining the need for this support, Ponce explained:
“When you start from scratch in a new country, there are also political roads you need to navigate. It is much easier to go with Business Sweden, they have the proper knowledge about the market and can tell you the exact forms that need to be completed, how to apply for approvals, and who is making the decisions.”
“Our products are highly technical, and some of them contain radioactive material, this is not something you can just sell without going through the right regulatory and product registration processes. Business Sweden found the person who would be able to help with the regulatory process and product registration. This meant we were prepared for the quick turnaround that is needed for public tenders, we had everything ready, so we didn’t miss out.”
Elekta’s South American presence and ambitions are growing and support from Business Sweden has enabled them to replicate the model used in Brazil in both Chile and Columbia. By using Business Sweden’s employment services, Elekta have been able to put sales representatives in both countries and start the scale-up process, without the risk or lengthy time needed to find an office or set-up a company.For me, I know the local market and the language, but Business Sweden could also connect back to the Elekta head office and sort out problems quickly. Together we get problems resolved quickly so our products are always compliant, and we reach the right people.
A rapid and ongoing impact in the healthcare sector
Over 60 per cent of Brazil’s healthcare services are operated by the public sector, a figure that is replicated across South America, so it has been a critical part of their approach in the region to be part of large-scale public tenders. Being able to put their precision radiotherapy equipment into public hospitals means their reach and impact on patients with cancer has been profound.
Elekta now have a 35 per cent share of the market with over 270 machines in hospitals across South America. The impact of these machines is vast. On average, an Elekta machine in the region treats 80-90 patients per day, compared to around 30-35 in the US or Europe. This means that each day, more than 22,000 patients receive cancer care from equipment developed by a Swedish company.
The ongoing market outreach and penetration for Elekta continues, as does the partnership with Business Sweden. Elekta continue to leverage Business Sweden’s role in representing Swedish companies and the Swedish brand, which is highly respected in Brazil.
Ponce concludes: ‘Swedish companies have a good reputation; they deliver what they say they are going to do, they are respected. This is critical in the healthcare sector where hospitals need to know exactly what they are going to get and when. And Business Sweden has the trust of the public sector and the government departments approving and buying medical equipment.
“For me, I know the local market and the language, but Business Sweden could also connect back to the Elekta head office and sort out problems quickly. Together we get problems resolved quickly so our products are always compliant, and we reach the right people.”
Founded in Sweden in 1972, Elekta is now a leading innovator of precision radiation therapy solutions committed to ensuring that every patient has access to the best cancer care possible. Their products allow clinicians to treat more patients with increased quality, both with value-creating innovations in solutions and AI-supported service based on a global network.