As surgeons develop and use ever-more capable robotic augmentation devices for their surgical procedures, many startup companies are being acquired by global medical device conglomerates. Stryker’s $1.65 billion acquisition of MAKO Surgical in September, 2013 is an example.
UPDATED 12-2-2015: Fixes incorrect information about Auris Robotic Systems (see below).
Smith & Nephew, a global medical tech conglomerate that is expanding into robotics-assisted surgeries, announced that they are paying $275 million to acquire Pittsburgh startup Blue Belt Technologies. Blue Belt has developed a robotic-assisted surgical system for knee replacement. Smith & Nephew is already Blue Belt’s sales partner and distributor.
Blue Belt has been working on, and plans to launch in 2017, a total knee system, and has hip arthroplasty in its pipeline.
Olivier Bohuon, Chief Executive Officer of Smith & Nephew said, “This acquisition is a compelling strategic move, with the combination of complementary products and R&D programs creating a platform from which we can shape this exciting new area of surgery. It reinforces our distinctive orthopaedic reconstruction strategy, which combines cutting edge innovation, disruptive business models and a strong emerging markets platform to drive outperformance.”
The surgical robot device market was estimated to be $3.2 billion in 2014 and forecast to reach $20 billion by 2021 as next generation devices, systems and instruments are introduced to manage surgery through small ports in the body instead of large open wounds. The market is characterized by enormous variety and innovation from snake robots to navigation systems to highly articulated devices such as the da Vinci surgical system from Intuitive Surgical. This dynamic growth industry will involve many shifts in ownership and funding, suggests RNR Market Research in their 553 page, $4,000 report published in April.
Auris Medical Robotics, the Peter Thiel backed startup developing an eye surgery robotic device, received $150 million from undisclosed sources, MedCity News reported from an analysis of regulartory filings. Just last year, Auris raised a $34 million from some 20 backers, including Highland Capital Partners, Lux Capital and Mithril Capital Management. It was previously – and incorrectly reported – that Auris had been acquired for $150 million.
In addition to Stryker’s $1.5 billion acquisition of MAKO, many other robotic medical device startups have been acquired including Hansen Medical which acquired the rights to Advanced Cardiac Therapeutics and also acquired EndoVia Medical and AorTx; Intuitive Surgical acquired licenses from Power Medical Interventions; and TransEnterix Surgical acquired the TELELAP ALF-X project for $100 million.