EMBA alumnus launches medical tourism service for Chinese nationals.
When Alvin Peng Li came to the UK to study as a graduate, he was impressed by the country’s education, culture and lifestyle and decided to start his career in London. He gradually understood that the UK was in demand by Chinese nationals but that they found barriers to entry such as language, resources and work. “If I could establish a company to help Chinese nationals realise their dreams by using the network and resources I already have here, then why not? That’s how Counton Global Mobility Solutions (GMS) was born.” Alvin explains. “To date, we have assisted over 10,000 Chinese individuals in their personal development in the UK by providing them all-round and one-stop professional services, like investment consultancy, start-up guidance, immigration assistance and education facilitation.”
Whilst completing his EMBA at Cambridge Judge Business School in 2013, Alvin began researching health services and focused his Team Consulting Project on elderly care in China. “I noticed that more people of my parents’ generation in China were living longer but were getting ill more frequently and critically. They were also running out of treatment options despite being able to afford the latest available treatments in China.” From listening to these stories about friends and relatives whilst in the UK, Alvin recognised that there was a clear difference between Chinese and British life-saving treatments and technology. “I knew that critically ill patients in China would not have run out of options if they were treated in the UK and their stories would have been totally different. They would have been able to enjoy a better disease survival rate and treatment experience.” After realising this gap in the market and researching potential business partnerships between leading UK and Chinese healthcare institutes, Counton GMS launched a private healthcare service for Chinese nationals.
During President Xi Jinping’s state visit to the UK in October 2015, a healthcare trade and investment deal was signed between Counton GMS and UK health providers to offer specialised treatment for severely ill Chinese patients in the UK, a partnership estimated at £57 million. “The services that Counton GMS provides to Chinese clients will enable an increasing number of Chinese nationals to come to the UK, which will directly help boost the UK’s economic development,” Alvin says. “[We are also] supported by the UK government (UKTI), the British Embassy in Beijing and CBBC, and we act as a bridge leading to a long-term cooperative relationship between the UK and China, which is beneficial for mutual cultural exchange and sharing.”
Alvin also hopes to launch clinical exchange programmes between the two countries that will further mutual learning. He believes that British doctors could take advantage of China’s large population to learn about cases that they are less likely to encounter in the UK. Chinese doctors would be able to access state-of-the-art technologies and understand new treatments for diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. He also hopes to build partnerships with hospitals, healthcare institutes and medical investment and management companies and even expand the business to develop hospital-to-hospital platforms and private hospital investment.
“I believe I would have never branched my business into the healthcare market if I did not attend the EMBA programme at Cambridge. It helped me formulate an effective cooperative process and model, taught me to negotiate with people from different cultural backgrounds and helped me get the most essential people engaged in our team.” During the programme, Alvin met classmates Antonio Vidal-Puig, Deputy Director of the MRC Centre at University of Cambridge, and Angela Single, registered nurse and former Managing Director of the UK’s first telehealth company, who became core members of the Counton GMS advisory team. “The programme helped me enrich my business knowledge and skills, teaching me how to make practical, effective financial and investment decisions that led to financial success and stability. I also learned how to successfully manage a newly-built team and make it function well.”
With the launch of Counton GMS’s healthcare services and expansion already in the pipeline, Alvin is looking for the next gap in the market. “I hope to help as many Chinese nationals as possible to realise their dream of obtaining better education and career opportunities, embracing a brand-new life and having access to private healthcare services in the UK. I believe that one day in the future, overseas medical treatment would be as common as going abroad for education and tourism and I want to help Chinese nationals on their journey.”