BANGALORE: US giant General Electric’s healthcare unit made an announcement on 15 March, 2007 that it will step up investments and expand its workforce in India , seeking to tap a booming market for medical equipment and engineering talent.
“India is a key part of our globalization effort and it is a good place to invest, given the inherent growth of the Indian marketplace,” Joe Hogan, president and chief executive of GE Healthcare, told reporters in Bangalore.
Britain-based GE Healthcare, the only General Electric unit to be headquartered outside of the United States, has invested $100 million (Rs450 crore) in India already and it employs 2,200 people who are engaged in manufacturing equipment that includes X-ray, ultrasound and electrocardiograph machines.
According to V.Raja, who oversees local operations, “Indian arm’s sales at home and abroad reached $450 million (Rs1575 crore) in 2006 and local business is growing at an annual pace of 20%”.
India, where the company has a third of its engineering workforce, also contributes 15% of GE Healthcare’s manufacturing output.
In expanding in the country, GE Healthcare is seeking to take advantage of India’s engineering talent rather than save on labour costs. “A decade ago, India was about arbitrage on labour but today it is a place where you can find some of the best engineers in the world. That is why we have to be around, to make sure that we use that talent not just for the Indian marketplace but also all over the world.”
GE Healthcare is focusing on India to take advantage of an economy expanding at 9% a year with an affluent middle-class estimated to make up a third of the country’s 1.1 billion population.
As incomes rise and medical insurance coverage spreads, more urban Indians will be able to afford expensive medical care and private healthcare institutions are mushrooming to cater to the demand.
The company is designing, engineering and building medical diagnostic products tailored to the local marketplace. On 15 March, it unveiled a portable, battery-operated electrocardiograph that monitors heart functions that are understood by physicians but who are not qualified to read graphics produced by the machine.