In both Romania and Poland, the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the shortcomings of the national healthcare infrastructures, which in turn has led to a speeding up of expansion and optimization projects and plans for new facilities. Both these countries in the east of the European Union offer business opportunities that French healthcare infrastructure professionals should not pass over, whether they are specialized in project engineering, e-health information systems, or medical equipment and devices.
The Romanian National Recovery and Resilience Plan has made health a priority sector for investment, and has set aside a budget of €2.49 billion over the period 2021/2026, including over €1 billion for hospital infrastructure projects (consolidation, renovation, the extension of existing hospitals and the construction of new facilities).
Poland has also built, renovated and modernized major hospital facilities, for example the oncology hospital in Wroclaw (600 beds, 10 operating theaters) and the Krakow university hospital finalized at the end of 2019 (the largest in Central and Eastern Europe, with 1,350 beds and 265 day beds). 29% of the European funds intended for healthcare, from which Poland benefited between 2014 and 2020, has been used in the purchase of medical equipment.
The private healthcare sector is estimated at over €3 billion in Romania and €12.2 billion in Poland. France is, however, only the sixth supplier in medical equipment for Poland and eighth for Romania, with, respectively, approximately 5% and 4% of market share in these two countries. “We have lost considerable market share in these countries, in particular to our European competitors. We absolutely must make up for lost time,” said François Matraire, Director Business France Romania and Coordinator Lifestyle & Healthcare – Central and Eastern Europe. “We are part of the European Union, so if French businesses do not yet have business operations in the countries in the east of the EU, it means they are missing out on something. Before trying to export worldwide, we first need to address the markets on our doorstep, that have a shared culture and regulations, ever-increasing purchasing power and considerable own and European resources.”
The dozen or so French businesses that benefited from support spent a day and a half in each country. They were able to exchange ideas face to face with major decision-makers – the Romanian Secretary of State for Health, representatives of major healthcare groups in Romania, importers, distributors, technical or maintenance managers of hospital facilities, or hospital directors and federations in Poland.
The program was split into three phases. First, discussions on common problems in a conference and round table format with local players and French stakeholders (businesses, associations, healthcare establishments…). Second, an essential BtoB aspect, organized in accordance with the needs expressed by French businesses, to allow them to get together with potential partners – e.g. distributors and KOLs (doctors, professors, directors of facilities,…). Third, a more informal networking approach, during which field trips allowed French businesses the opportunity to directly apprehend the reality of the health sector and its local requirements (collective meetings, visits to healthcare facilities…).
“With this Business Seminar in Romania and Poland, our aim was to support French businesses to enable them to export to these rapidly-growing markets. This type of initiative allows us to offer businesses prospecting opportunities in these markets and discover two countries at the same time, with a program that is very similar in both territories,” François Matraire, Director Business France Romania and Coordinator Lifestyle & Healthcare – Central and Eastern Europe.
Large numbers of Romanian and Polish decision-makers requested quotes and estimates from the French businesses. One such business returned to Bucharest after only a few weeks in order to continue the discussions with the most promising prospects.
The event was organized on the premises of the French Embassies, for which Business France acts as the commercial service, in close collaboration with our ambassadors in these countries and the other relevant services of the Embassy, such as the Cooperation and Cultural Affairs Departments.
The intention is to organize this seminar again in the future. An event focused on oncology has already been arranged for mid-June 2023 in Romania and Poland.