Medtech and Circular Economy Have More in Common Than You Think (And Why You Should Give a Damn)

* * * Article updated 2.1.2022. * * *

Last week I attended a webinar by KIERTO project. It champions new jobs and skills around circular economy in Tampere area in Finland. I couldn’t help thinking how much circular economy business and medtech (my area of expertise) have in common.

I wanted to explore that further.

I love to connect even the unlikeliest of dots and create a mutual ground.

And it could be useful to someone else too who enjoys identifying things that are in common rather than things that set us apart.

But just to be clear: although I found the webinar inspiring, the following reflection and conclusions are my own.

* * * NOTE: This post is an English version of Terveysteknologialla ja Kiertotaloudella on Enemmän Yhteistä Kuin Uskotkaan (Ja Miksi Sinun Tulisi Välittää Siitä Hittoakaan).


Responsibility

When you’ve got two exceptional customers to please – the environment and patients – there’s no way you can just uncheck boxes when the work feels a bit harder than it used to be. You cannot pull a blanket over your head when you know you need to wake up. Sure, both circular economy and medtech expectations and regulations have climbed to new heights. Also, it can feel tempting to take shortcuts. But neither of these businesses award those who do. Customers sure won’t.

Responsibility is the name of the game. To succeed in circular economy (and in medtech) you need to take on the responsibilities that come with the game you play. The environment and patients need companies, stakeholders, shareholders and everyone involved to show up. You must pay attention and take care of the things on their plate. You have certain obligations which you’re accountable for. Calls for responsibility can be the engine that pushes you to make the changes and carry out the development that is due.

Why you should be bothered?

If responsibility is up your alley, you get it and care about it, you could fit right in in circular economy and medtech circles.

* * * * *

Regulations

Regulations seem to make both medtech and circular economy go round. Sometimes so much that your head spins. But if you stop to think about why there are all those regulations, and what would it look like without them, you may realise that it wouldn’t be that much more heavenly.

When you know and understand the rules of the business, you can be a game changer. You can use the rules to your advantage to invent and make the most of new market opportunities. When you look far ahead, you can anticipate what new rules are sailing your way. This gives you time to adjust and plan. So not if, but when the world is changing (which is right now), in both circular economy and medtech it pays to work with, not against the compulsory regulations. That might be just what your business needs to grow up or grow into something new.

Why this should concern you?

When you understand regulations and compliance, see opportunities where others see stress, you can be a game changer that both fields would be lucky to have.

* * * * *

Competences

Medtech couldn’t survive without the hard work and dedication of various experts. It seems that circular economy couldn’t either. The survival and success in both businesses in the years to come depends on the organisations’ and people’s abilities and chances to come out of the silos. There are the challenges of meeting multiple stakeholders’ needs and processing expanding amount of information. Being able to own what you do and to find meaning and value in your work are important too. All those things drive people to work more across boundaries and to be more transparent.

Not everyone needs to be a circular economy expert or medtech wizard. Everyone working in either field would nevertheless benefit from understanding what the business as a whole is about. Or how even one person can apply it in their daily work. That will help people in both businesses to work together better. They can get results more efficiently and make inescapable changes easier.

Why should you care?

Many kinds of competences are needed. Everyone’s input counts and we can all make change happen.

* * * * *

Learning

The way that circular economy requires people to learn new skills and adjust their thinking shows the power of learning. Learning creates new opportunities. No matter if you’re currently in or out of a job, starting your own business or studying.

Same in medtech. As the business keeps evolving, regulations change, the user needs shift, or technical solutions continue to take us further. They require all those involved to learn, unlearn and re-learn, as one presenter in the webinar quipped. Rinse and repeat. This is fundamentally identical in both medtech and circular economy.

What’s in it for you?

If you’re willing to have a learner’s hat on, you’ll be fine in both domains.

* * * * *

Profit and well-being

The most profitable companies in the healthcare industry include medtech companies. The returns are high especially for a product with great demand (*medical face masks, I’m thinking of you*). At the same time, the devices generate well-being for patients and other users. They make patients feel better, help users to save time, money, even lives.

The same I believe applies to circular economy. While it’s expected to create a massive amount of new jobs and profit (some companies have already achieved that), there is a bigger purpose it’s serving. It aims to at least slow down climate change. There probably isn’t a bigger threat to our well-being than that. Companies interested or engaged in circular economy have still a lot of work to be done. Turning old ways around and doing rather than talking are easier said than done. But it’s making progress. Hopefully, companies keep up the good work as the business and profit they make contributes to everyone’s well-being.

What’s the point?

Even if the idea of doing business may sound too commercial and sleazy, keep an open mind. There are industries and businesses working to make our lives better.


I hope these thoughts created some new ideas for you too. Perhaps you realise there are work or study opportunities out there for you. Or that in your life seemingly unrelated things can share common ground. You might be able use that for example in your work or studies. Go for it!

Can you think of any other examples, industries or businesses that have a lot in common? There are no right or wrong answers, so I’d be happy to read YOUR thoughts below in the comments.

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