Strategies from Brazil: How the Country Has Risen as a Leader Primed for Healthcare Innovation

July 6, 2022
What does it mean for a nation to be prepared for innovation in healthcare? Sergio Gustavo Rossi of ApexBrasil explains how the Brazilian government is facilitating innovation in the healthcare sector

In recent years, Brazil has emerged on the global healthcare stage – with strong standards and strategies for healthcare innovation, collaboration, and patient care. Indeed, now serving as the largest healthcare market in Latin America, spending a staggering 9.1% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on healthcare alone, Brazil is a critically important hub for health tech startups and established healthcare conglomerates alike, who are flocking to the country to take advantage of its exciting and innovative healthcare ecosystem.

This incredible progress didn’t happen overnight. On the contrary, Brazil’s healthcare sector has worked diligently over time to expand its capabilities in order to better meet the needs of its growing population. By making strategic investments in its healthcare infrastructure and embracing the promise of its startup ecosystem, the country has catalyzed profound transformations in its healthcare sector, cementing its place as a “global market to watch” and catching the attention of healthcare companies such as global powerhouse Novartis, as well as others like Nintx, with more in the process.

Below is an overview of Brazil’s efforts to foster a healthcare environment primed for entrepreneurship and innovation, with three specific strategies that helped lay the groundwork for the success we are experiencing today:

1.      Supporting Health Tech Startups

Brazil believes strongly in the promise of its healthcare startup ecosystem, and as such, has invested in a number of different initiatives aimed at ensuring the vitality of the creation of new businesses. In fact, today, the Brazilian government supports more than 20 initiatives that support the country’s startup ecosystem – from networking resources, to funding programs – with the goal of fostering an environment where Brazilian entrepreneurs are encouraged to bring their ideas to fruition.

One example: ApexBrasil, Brazil’s trade and investment promotion agency, recently hosted a Startup Day held as part of the BIO International Convention in San Diego, where five Brazilian startups had the opportunity to present their business pitches and meet with a range of American investors and companies. As a result of efforts like these, health tech startups have flourished across Brazil, with 1,136 health tech startups across the country today – a drastic increase compared to the 386 health techs in 2019.

2.       Implementing a Digital Health Strategy

From reducing costs and inefficiencies to improving accessibility, digital health is changing the global healthcare landscape – and Brazil is leading the charge. In fact, in order to actualize the country’s long-term digital health goals, the Ministry of Health recently established a National Digital Health Strategy to outline what the organization aims to achieve by 2028. The strategy includes seven priority areas, including, creating an innovative ecosystem, developing an interconnected environment, and supporting improved health care for citizens, to name a few. By creating a forward-thinking and objective-oriented plan, the government is level-setting expectations and helping the healthcare industry achieve attainable – albeit ambitious – goals.

3.       Fostering National and International Collaboration

In the ongoing effort to bring the highest quality care to Brazilian citizens, organizations, hospitals, universities, researchers, and more have embarked on notable collaborations with leading healthcare institutions, both inside and outside of the country.

For example, recently, Brazilian researchers and the Center for Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBM) at the University of Oxford created the Oxford-Brazil EBM, with the goal of promoting international and national collaboration between educators, researchers, and academics with regard to evidence-based medicines. Additionally, the Brazilian Telemedicine University Network (RUTE) initiative recently created 50 special interest groups focused on encouraging the integration and collaboration of healthcare professionals. Through efforts like these, leaders in Brazil’s healthcare industry are working deliberately to connect and collaborate with other leading minds in the space – promoting information sharing and increasing efficiencies, all while pioneering innovation in the process.

Healthcare is changing rapidly. It’s an area that is becoming more advanced, more efficient, and more personalized than ever before. Amid these notable transformations, Brazil has emerged as a global healthcare leader to watch, creating an environment whereby the new era of healthcare innovation not only occurs, but thrives. For members of the healthcare community, one fact remains clear: Brazil is keeping up with the incredible pace of healthcare innovation, making the country an attractive partner and/or investment location.

Sergio Gustavo Rossi is Investment Officer and Project Manager at ApexBrasil, the Brazilian government's trade and investment promotion agency

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