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In our modern world, lifesaving technology and supplies are taken for granted. But as technology evolves and the cost of healthcare rises, the medical device industry in Mexico is increasingly growing in importance.
From ventilators to pacemakers to 3D printed parts, medical manufacturing is vital to our way of life. And as these devices increase in sophistication through integration with artificial intelligence and wireless communication, the need for skilled assembly labor rises, too.
Mexico suits this purpose beautifully. Through its skilled-yet-affordable manufacturing labor, its proximity to major markets, and its impressive infrastructure capabilities, the Latin American country has become a major source of affordable medical device manufacturing for the world.
Currently, Mexico is a leader in both importing and exporting medical devices. The country is an established life sciences powerhouse with impressive rankings in the global medical devices industry. Currently, Mexico:
Primarily based in Baja California, the medical device industry in Mexico is responsible for around 140,000 jobs. Medical device manufacturing is considered a major contributor to the national economy and employment, especially in that region. With around 80 companies making medical devices in that region alone, it’s no surprise that the region’s primary manufacturing city, Tijuana, has become known as the medical device manufacturing capital of the world.
Global leaders that manufacture medical devices in Mexico include notable names like:
Medical device manufacturing is also entrenched and thriving in other regions of Mexico, such as Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, Jalisco, Sonora, and Tamaulipas. By and large, these regions are in the border region and benefit substantially from proximity to US manufacturing and distribution hubs.
While the product registration process in Mexico is slow, leading to a backlog, the country offers several key advantages. First, the cost-efficiency of Mexico’s skilled labor allows for the labor-intensive production demands of this market. The medical device industry in Mexico thrives because the cost of labor is low and highly skilled. Medical device manufacturing requires highly complex assembly and various stages of hand construction, all of which Mexican labor excels at.
Additionally, Mexico already has in place a highly developed industry hub for this niche. Companies that produce medical devices can plug into highly integrated supply chains, state-of-the-art industrial complexes, and various transportation modalities for exporting these produces all around the world.
But shipping across the world is optional. The bulk of the medical device industry in Mexico is located just 30 minutes from San Diego, literally the third most important US city for the life sciences market. Mexican factories are highly interconnected with their US counterparts, allowing for back-and-forth collaboration, innovation, production, and distribution.
The academic situation in Mexico is also industry-friendly. Universities and technical schools equip graduates with industry specific skills often in cooperation with industry leaders and government. The result is a made-to-order workforce approximately 156,000 strong specifically in this sector. As such, it is no surprise that approximately 70% of the world’s leading medical device companies have operations in Mexico.
Fortunately for the medical device industry in Mexico, getting started there is actually pretty simple. For smaller companies, the preferrable option is often contract manufacturing. This allows for more flexibility and less of a commitment. Alternatively, major companies opt to open a wholly-owned subsidiary there for maximum control and long-term commitment.
But a large segment of the industry operates on the shelter model. This option allows foreign companies to jointly partner with a shelter company already registered and embedded in Mexico that handles all the administrative hassle, freeing them up to focus on their product. The shelter company already has in place the necessary certifications, vendor networks, hiring practices, and even optimal manufacturing locations, making it easy to leverage Mexico’s advantages for long-term success in the medical device industry.