Top ten tips for entry to the Chinese Digital Health Market

Top ten tips for entry to the Chinese Digital Health Market by Elaine Taylor-Whilde

Elaine has years of experiance in China and has clinical digital/A.I. products in use in over 2500 clinics, established networks and trade partners across China. Some non-Chinese companies seem to expect to  “lift and drop “digital health products straight into the mainland.Here are my do’s and don’ts  to ensure that when you first enter the Chinese market you are well prepared.

Before you go 

Think carefully why China ?  Do your market research there is an amazing amount of free published accurate information on the internet and the Department of International Trade.  The  big consultancies have many excellent country specific reports. Download Baidu the Chinese search engine, do not rely on western search engines

Consider what you want to set up –do you just want an agency to sell your product or a distributor ? Do you really want to set up a company? If so do you understand the complexity of setting up a Joint Venture or a Wholly Foreign Owned Company (WFOE) ? From January 2020 the law is changing but the underlying principles apply. Can you deliver what you need via a short term consultancy contract instead ?

Spend time exploring the different culture , lifestyle and health system ? Will your product work in this environment e.g. all digital clinical health products have to integrate with existing systems how will you find a good local partner or partners to enable you to do this ? Do you have the correct regulatory approvals ? Set up email and websites that work and can be viewed in China.Get a we chat account-its free and it’s the most popular form of communication.

Use the UK government free services for example the Department of International Trade who have both national and local large teams on the ground in both China and the UK.

Explore export funding, free grants and matched funding from the DIT & UK government. These sometimes fund your travel & accommodation, once you have contracts then export loans may be available via your bank where up to 80% is underwritten by the government.

Ready to attend

Try to attend a DIT specific subject mission or one supported by a University e.g. Bradford/Cambridge who will brief you and help you find the best local partners, distributors and agencies in advance. They can set up meetings and support you throughout the trip and afterwards.

Aim to attend a mission or visit in a Tier 1 or 2 City it is far more difficult to open doors in more rural and less developed areas.Stay on after the official visit or mission ends. China works on rapid follow up and face to face meetings, the more you have the further you will get.

Ensure you apply for the right type of Visa  (at least a two trip Visa, you are going to have to go back quickly) well in advance . Use Chinese contacts/mission organiser  to provide your Visa letter.

Get good legal advice from the outset, understand what you can and can not do as a foreigner and get good due diligence on potential partners or investors. Any company operating in this space must consider China’s digital security rules e.g. how will you develop systems/products without seeing the data ?

While your there.

Print out or have your directions in Chinese, only use licensed cabs and make sure the meter is on. Do not try and schedule in too many meetings, the cities are vast and if you are late you may not be invited back. Find a car and driver to hire or ask the host company to send a car.

Always accept the offer of a meal, “no meal means no deal”!