The medical devices industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by increased need for homecare, preventative treatments, early diagnosis, reducing patient recovery times and improving outcomes, and growing importance of technologies such as machine learning, augmented reality, 5G and digitalization. In the last three years alone, there have been over 710,000 patents filed and granted in the medical devices industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in medical: minimally invasive surgical instruments. Buy the report here.

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However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilizing and reaching maturity.

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

30+ innovations will shape the medical devices industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the medical devices industry using innovation intensity models built on over 155,000 patents, there are 30+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, ultrasonic nebulizers and intra-oral 3D imaging are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Intraocular pressure monitoring, automated diabetes management, and tissue repair implants are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas is CPR assistance devices, which is now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the medical devices industry

Minimally invasive surgical instruments is a key innovation area in medical devices

Minimally invasive surgical instruments are specialized tools and devices designed to perform surgical procedures through small incisions or natural body openings, minimizing the damage to surrounding tissue and reducing patient recovery time. These instruments include endoscopes, catheters, and other devices that allow surgeons to manipulate and visualize internal organs using advanced imaging and navigation technologies.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 280+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established medical devices companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of minimally invasive surgical instruments.

Key players in minimally invasive surgical instruments – a disruptive innovation in the medical devices industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of applications identified for each patent. It broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.   

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of countries each patent is registered in. It reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.  

Patent volumes related to minimally invasive surgical instruments

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Johnson & Johnson 5464 Unlock Company Profile
Medtronic 1462 Unlock Company Profile
Intuitive Surgical 886 Unlock Company Profile
Abbott Laboratories 536 Unlock Company Profile
Koninklijke Philips 461 Unlock Company Profile
Olympus 353 Unlock Company Profile
Boston Scientific 235 Unlock Company Profile
Waters 235 Unlock Company Profile
CMR Surgical 165 Unlock Company Profile
Kardium 98 Unlock Company Profile
Becton Dickinson 70 Unlock Company Profile
Pulse Biosciences 67 Unlock Company Profile
Creo Medical Group 60 Unlock Company Profile
Procept Biorobotics 59 Unlock Company Profile
Bio-Medical Engineering (HK) 52 Unlock Company Profile
Gynesonics 49 Unlock Company Profile
Acutus Medical 47 Unlock Company Profile
Nuvaira 47 Unlock Company Profile
Monteris Medical 44 Unlock Company Profile
Stryker 42 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens 41 Unlock Company Profile
Medicaroid 40 Unlock Company Profile
Canon 38 Unlock Company Profile
ClearPoint Neuro 37 Unlock Company Profile
Carl Zeiss Stiftung 35 Unlock Company Profile
Sony Group 34 Unlock Company Profile
Titan Medical 34 Unlock Company Profile
Vektor Medical 34 Unlock Company Profile
Viveve Medical 34 Unlock Company Profile
Lensar 34 Unlock Company Profile
InnerOptic Technology 31 Unlock Company Profile
Horizon Technology Finance 31 Unlock Company Profile
Quantum Surgical 31 Unlock Company Profile
Neurent Medical 31 Unlock Company Profile
XACT Robotics 30 Unlock Company Profile
CereVasc 29 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens Healthineers 28 Unlock Company Profile
ERBE Elektromedizin 28 Unlock Company Profile
Broncus Medical 28 Unlock Company Profile
Smith & Nephew 28 Unlock Company Profile
Aesthetics BioMedical 27 Unlock Company Profile
Synaptive Medical 27 Unlock Company Profile
Thermo Fisher Scientific 26 Unlock Company Profile
Respiratory Technology 24 Unlock Company Profile
ProstaCare 23 Unlock Company Profile
Avanos Medical 23 Unlock Company Profile
US Patent Innovations 22 Unlock Company Profile
AngioDynamics 19 Unlock Company Profile
AtriCure 19 Unlock Company Profile
Shanghai MicroPort EP MedTech 19 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Johnson & Johnson and Medtronic are two of the leading patent filers in minimally invasive surgical instruments. Some other key patent filers include Intuitive Surgical, Abbott Laboratories, and Koninklijke Philips.

In terms of application diversity, Waters leads the pack, while CereVasc and US Patent Innovations stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Nuvaira held the top position, followed by Lensar and Carl Zeiss Stiftung.

The future of minimally invasive surgical instruments appears promising with the advancement of robotic-assisted surgery, artificial intelligence (AI)-guided surgery, and imaging technologies. These innovations will enable expert surgeons to operate on patients remotely, offer real-time 3D images that enhance surgical site accuracy and improve results. As healthcare systems continue to focus on reducing costs and improving patient outcomes, minimally invasive surgical instruments are likely to become the preferred choices.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the medical devices industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Medical Devices.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.