NASHVILLE – One is an early-stage firm looking to assess a potential market for its recently approved product. Another is an established exporter hoping to enter the world’s largest country. A third wants to replicate its previous success in expanding international sales.
All three – Dream Systems LLC, Stinger Medical and VenX LLC – are going to be in Beijing starting Sunday in hopes of moving toward achieving those goals.
The privately held Middle Tennessee companies are among 11 medical-device manufacturers and health-care businesses participating in a six-day trade mission to China and South Korea. The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development organized the trip as part of its TNTrade export initiative.
“This is an excellent opportunity for these Tennessee businesses to open the door for exports to two rapidly growing Asian markets,” said Will Alexander, an assistant economic development commissioner who will lead the trip.
Tennessee delegates will meet potential trade partners and customers in Beijing and Seoul. They also will attend the China International Medicinal Equipment Fair, a major medical exhibition in the Asia-Pacific region.
China is the world’s largest market, with a population of more than 1.3 billion people. The trade mission focuses on medical companies because of the Chinese government’s efforts to attract Western health-care technology.
“They’ve got a lot of money and a great desire to build world-class hospitals and implement the latest technology, and we hope to be a part of it,” said Gary Coonan, Stinger Medical’s president and CEO, who is sending his senior sales executive and an engineer to China. “We’d certainly like to do all the ground work this year and have everything in place in 2013.”
The 18-year-old Murfreesboro-based company already exports its mobile work stations to Canada, South America and the United Kingdom.
This trip will be the first trade mission for VenX, an early-stage medical-device company working on a product to treat spider and reticular veins. Spider veins are thin and very close to the skin’s surface, while reticular veins are blue, splotchy veins that can be difficult to treat.
“We’re going on the trip principally to determine whether or not this is a potential market for us,” said Joe Cook III, a director of the Nashville company. “We have a product that has utility in a number of different markets both inside and outside the United States, but we’re still in the evaluation stage.”
Terriance Moody, Dream Systems’ founder and chief executive, hopes the Far East trip will work as well as a trade mission to Europe two years ago that led to the company opening a London office. The 13-year-old Nashville firm develops and implements tele-health solutions.
“The Asian market has always been a part of our strategic plan,” said Moody, who will make the trip with his wife, Dr. Tapria Moody, the company’s vice president.
SBA helps foot bill
The state is using $85,000 from a Small Business Administration grant to cover participants’ lodging, transportation and meeting costs while in Asia, but they must pay for their travel to China and back home from South Korea.
Other companies taking part are: ABT Molecular Imaging and Gryphus Diagnostics, both of Knoxville; Christie Medical Holdings and Silicone Arts Laboratories, both of Memphis; E-Spin Technologies, Fillauer and Hollywog, all from Chattanooga; and iScreen Vision, based in Cordova, Tenn. They were selected over 12 other companies that also applied to go on the trip.