Medtronic Makes Noise in Surgical Robotics with New M&A

*Updated to include comments from Megan Rosengarten, vice president and general manager of Medtronic’s Surgical Robotics business.

Medtronic just turned up the volume in the surgical robotics market by a few decibels. The Dublin-based company – which has had a flurry of news come out in the last six months, is building out its upcoming surgical robotics platform with the acquisition of London-based Digital Surgery, an artificial intelligence specialist.

Dr. Jean Nehme, surgeon, CEO and co-founder of Digital Surgery spoke with MD+DI about the acquisition and noted the two companies were a good fit.

“For the past five or six years we have been building out an organization which has really pioneered robot-based training for surgery,†Nehme told MD+DI. “… As well as being the first to really build out a specialty and pioneer surgical AI.â€

He noted that many surgeons use Digital Surgery’s products for training and education. He added, that the company has also been using AI to identify surgical steps.

The deal is for an undisclosed sum and is set to close today.  Digital Surgery will join the Surgical Robotics business as part of the Minimally Invasive Therapies Group, said Megan Rosengarten, vice president and general manager of Medtronic’s Surgical Robotics business.

“Within the Surgical Robotics business, we’ve prioritized a few areas where we are intent on investing; and data and analytics is one of those, because we know how critical that capability is to the future of surgery,” Rosengarten told MD+DI in an email.  “Through this acquisition, we will grow and commercialize Digital Surgery’s products that are in development or currently on the market – using Medtronic’s breadth and scale to share Digital Surgery’s industry-leading digital education offerings more broadly, and working together to bring forth tools that support intraoperative surgeon decision making and reduce unwarranted variability. This acquisition is a great strategic fit, but also a great cultural fit as we share a strong passion around advancing minimally invasive surgery and increasing access to high-quality surgical outcomes for patients around the world.”

Organized Noise

There has been a lot of noise in the surgical robotics space over the last few months – mostly coming from Medtronic and Johnson & Johnson.

Recently, New Brunswick, NJ-based J&J beat heavily on the surgical robotics drum when it said it would give a demonstration of its system in May. Prior to announcing the reveal, J&J acquired the remaining stake in the Verb surgical robotic joint venture with Verily Life Sciences.

After delays and a few teases, Medtronic had a reveal announcement of its own. In September of 2019, the medtech giant said it would unveil its surgical robotics system.

The big takeaway from this news is that both Medtronic and Johnson & Johnson understand the high bar that Intuitive Surgical has raised in the surgical robotics. The Sunnyvale, CA-based company has been the only game in town and has held that position since 2000. It has had time to refine and make improvements to its system.

Intuitive isn’t resting on its laurels though. The company is still raising the bar with tuck-in acquisitions. Recently, Intuitive made a plan to acquire Orpheus Medical, a firm that provides clinical video capture and imaging documentation solutions. The platform offers the ability to capture and share clinical video and imaging from many sources, which may help improve physician and OR care team workflow and enable an analysis of their interventions. 

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