The Covid-19 pandemic caused overall greenfield foreign direct investment (FDI) project numbers to decline by 17.5% in 2020. However, as the world reopened in 2021, investors reacted quickly and FDI levels rose by 18.1%, according to our Global FDI Annual Report 2022.

Most sectors witnessed a rise in their number of projects, with companies keen to make up for lost time, yet the rise is not expected to be sustained. Investment levels will likely fall again in 2022. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to heightened geopolitical tensions, a global cost of living crisis, slow economic growth and continued supply chain disruptions, all of which look set to claw back the resurgence of FDI seen in 2021.

FDI in healthcare rose in 2021

Our FDI projects database shows there were 181 FDI projects in healthcare in 2021, up from 84 the year before. The 2021 figure was also higher than the 169 recorded in 2019, signalling the industry’s return to growth following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Out of the 181 FDI projects, 90% were new, with the remaining being expansions of existing facilities.

Where are the leading destinations for healthcare FDI?

North America was the leading region when it came to attracting FDI projects in healthcare in 2021, with 40% of all projects announced or opened globally. The region attracted 72 projects in 2021, up from 20 in 2020.

Asia-Pacific and western Europe were also popular destinations for healthcare FDI. Asia-Pacific experienced an increase in 2021, attracting 28 projects, up from 20 in 2020. Western Europe experienced a drop, however, as it received 28 projects in 2021, down from 34 the year before.

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The US remained the leading destination country for healthcare FDI in 2021. It received 71 inbound healthcare projects, more than three times higher than the number it attracted in 2019.

For example, the India-based hair restoration clinic Eugenix Hair Transplant Sciences announced plans to open a new clinic in the US in 2021.

India and Germany were also key locations when it came to attracting FDI projects in healthcare in 2021.

What are the top healthcare FDI operations?

Healthcare provision was the leading business operation for foreign investors in 2021. A total of 152 projects were created in healthcare provision in 2021, up from 64 the year before.

Sales, administration and marketing ranked second; however, this business function attracted only 11 projects in 2021.

What are the top subsectors for healthcare FDI?

Medical practice was the leading healthcare subsector in 2021. There were 124 projects recorded in 2021, up from 30 in 2020 and 80 in 2019.

Response Plus, a United Arab Emirates-based healthcare investment and management company, announced plans in 2021 to invest $9.53m (Dh35m) to expand its business in Saudi Arabia.

Hospitals, miscellaneous healthcare and medical laboratories were also popular subsectors, with all three receiving 14 projects in 2021.

Where are the leading healthcare investors located?

Australia was the leading source market for outbound healthcare FDI in 2021. The number of outbound projects from Australian companies was 51 in 2021, up from four in 2020 and 35 in 2019.

In 2021, the Australia-based provider of cancer and cardiac care services Genesis Care announced its plans to invest $39.1m (A$57.91m) to open a new oncology centre in Barcelona.

The US was the second-largest outbound market and Japan ranked third.

What does the future hold for FDI in healthcare?

FDI in healthcare recorded strong growth in 2021, bouncing back from the significant decline it experienced in 2020. It remains to be seen, however, if the sector will ride out the challenges presented by the Ukraine-Russia conflict, the cost of living problems affecting countries all over the world and the continuing Covid-19-related lockdowns in countries such as China.

Download the full Global FDI Annual Report 2022 here.