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Oct 29, 2020

Marking 20 years of Philips innovation in China

Estimated reading time: 4-6 minutes

Marking 20 years of Philips innovation in China

To mark the 20th Anniversary of Philips Research in China, we talked to Henk van Houten, Philips’ Chief Technology Officer, and Jyh-Ching Yaur, Head of Philips’ China Innovation Hub, about why China is a fast-moving and exhilarating place to innovate in healthcare.

Henk van Houten and Jyh Ching Yaur

Q. Why did Philips decide to open a research lab in China 20 years ago?

Henk van Houten: As China started to become more open at the time and began to invest heavily in science and innovation, Philips took the bold move of establishing an innovation center in the country to work on locally relevant innovations and to tap into the rapidly growing talent base there. One of the most memorable events in those first years was a visit by the then Chinese Prime Minister, Wen JiaBao, to the Netherlands, during which he communicated with research scientists back in China via communications technology developed by Philips.


Q. How has innovation in China evolved over the last 20 years?

Jyh-Ching Yaur: During the early years, China was a late adopter, which gave it the advantage of being able to deploy the latest technologies. That’s why our lab was initially active in areas such as optical storage and wireless communications, where Philips was already helping to set international standards. Today, China has established a strong technology ecosystem. That’s especially true in digital health, where the China Innovation Hub continues to combine Philips’ global technology expertise and China’s innovation potential to create meaningful solutions that are locally relevant. 


One example is our collaboration with IoT platform provider Tuya to develop the Philips Home+ platform, which allows Philips’ personal health, sleep and respiratory care businesses to deliver high added value, direct-to-consumer, connected propositions.

Philips HomePlus platform

Q. How has Philips’ research presence in China evolved over the last 20 years? 

HvH: The lab’s focus has changed in line with Philips’ strategy to become a purpose-driven health technology company, shifting its innovation activities to consumer health, medical imaging and minimally invasive interventions in interventional labs, connected care, health informatics, and digital healthcare services. The lab has conducted innovative research in ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging and developed a personalized stroke rehabilitation solution. It also helped to create Philips IntelliSpace Care Management, an integrated cardiovascular solution, and recently developed the Philips Fresh Air Mask – a battery powered wearable personal mask with much increased comfort. Both innovations were first developed and launched in China. 


Q. What makes China such a dynamic place to innovate healthcare?

JCY: As a result of the Chinese Government’s ‘Healthy China 2030’ initiative, there is already a lot of support for healthcare innovation in China. While that includes strong support for start-ups and SMEs, it also extends to collaboration with hospitals, research institutes and industry partners. Philips’ China Innovation Hub has a proven record of creating ecosystems in which insights from customers and end-users can be combined with health technology from Philips and new ways of thinking in start-ups and SMEs to develop products and services that will realize China’s healthcare ambitions.

Philips’ China Innovation Hub has a proven record of creating ecosystems in which insights from customers and end-users can be combined with health technology from Philips and new ways of thinking.

Jyh-Ching Yaur

Head of Philips’ China Innovation Hub

How does the lab fit into Philips’ current innovation strategy?

HvH: Five years ago, we expanded the lab with a strong digital architecture and software engineering team and elevated its status to that of a Global Innovation Hub. This was needed because our strategy to become a digital solutions innovator includes leveraging the strong and unique digital ecosystem in China. Working with our global and local business units, the lab embarked on end-to-end digital innovation, from first-mile planning to last-mile engineering. It enhanced its project management, solution architecting and engineering capabilities, built a strong data science and AI team, and established cross-disciplinary innovation in collaboration with key clinical partners such as China Digital Health.


What makes the China Innovation Hub so important to Philips?

HvH: The Hub is special because it’s at the epicenter of the healthcare and healthy living transformation of China, one of the world’s fastest moving markets. China has very quickly embraced the digitalization of healthcare, with concepts such as internet hospitals, 5G, and data driven AI-based solutions. For an innovation-driven company like Philips, that makes it a great place to be. As we continue to build our capabilities as a solutions and service provider, the China Innovation Hub will host R&D teams for our various global businesses, all of which recognize the importance of innovating in the market. 

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Mark Groves

Mark Groves

Philips Global Press Office

Tel.: +31 631 639 916

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