Due to higher capital expenditures, the medical robotics industry was more vulnerable to economic headwinds in 2022 than producers of less expensive devices. However, as underlying demand is still very strong, the robotics business will keep growing through 2030. According to GlobalData forecasts, the surgical robotics market was worth $8.6bn in 2022, and by 2030, it will have grown at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8% to $15.8bn.

GlobalData expects every segment of the medical robotics market to grow over the next decade, driven by the demands of high-volume procedures. Healthcare providers will increasingly invest in medical robots to compensate for staff shortages and improve the standard of care. Surgical robots improve patient outcomes, reduce human error, and decrease the length of hospital stays. The use of cloud computing and AI enables medical robots to collaborate and access huge amounts of data uninterruptedly. New surgical robot models will offer new surgical possibilities, such as micro-robots to address difficult-to-treat diseases.

Signals such as M&A activities, patent filings, and hiring trends indicate that the medical robotic market is growing strongly after the dip in 2022. For example, there were 60 robotics-related deals by medical companies in the last six months, after the annual number of medical robotics-related M&A transactions declined from 17 in 2019 to 13 in 2022, mirroring the unfavourable macroeconomic environment. Robotics saw a decline in deal value from 2020 with a dip of $196.6m in 2022 but is expected to recover in 2023. The merger of Globus Medical and NuVasive and the acquisition of Spectrum Plastics Group drove the total deal value to more than $5.5bn for the year so far. There are three main areas driving robotics M&A activity in the medical industry: orthopaedics, minimally invasive surgery, and imaging systems. Notably, leading device companies such as DePuy Synthes, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, and GE HealthCare continuously invest in new technology and products to strengthen their robotics portfolios.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics database shows steady growth in robotic-related patent activity in the medical sector, increasing from 469 new grants in 2016 to 638 in 2022. The number of patents keeps increasing in 2023, growing by 55% in May versus April. Intuitive Surgical, a leader in medical robot assistants for minimally invasive surgical procedures, is the top assignee by the number of applications. The top five robotic patent holders are US-based device companies except for UK-based CMR Surgical. The US is the leading patent authority in terms of robotic patent grants in medical devices, followed by China and Japan. The US also leads in terms of applications, which suggests higher levels of innovation.

An analysis of GlobalData’s Job Analytics database shows that there were more than 3,600 robotics-related new hires involving medical companies in the last six months. Initially, the medical sector saw an increase in job postings of 112% between Q1 2020 and Q3 2021. The steep increase in robotics hiring for the healthcare sector could be explained by the increased need for robotic logistic solutions as staff shortages carried on through the Covid-19 pandemic. However, growth stalled in 2021 as businesses prioritised other investments. The postings further dropped in 2022 due to the economic downturn, then began to slowly recover in Q1 2023.