The medical devices industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by increased need for homecare, preventative treatments, early diagnosis, reducing patient recovery times and improving outcomes, as well as a growing importance in technologies such as machine learning, augmented reality, 5G and digitalization. In the last three years alone, there have been over 450,000 patents filed and granted in the medical devices industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in Medical Devices: Robotic suction and irrigation.

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 stabilising 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.

150+ 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 550,000 patents, there are 150+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, neurostimulation therapy, smart physiotherapy devices, and real-time IR thermographic imaging are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Precision radiotherapy, electric atomisers, and bio-active prosthesis coating are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are bioresorbable stent coating and cryogenic tissue treatment, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the medical devices industry

Robotic suction and irrigation is a key innovation area in the medical devices industry

Robotic suction systems prevent fluid collection and accumulation of air automatically during the surgical process, while robotic irrigation systems allow efficient flushing and cleaning of the abdominal cavity during surgical procedures. Robotic suction and irrigation systems are replacing the conventional manual suction and irrigations performed by the staff during surgical procedures. This will reduce staff burden and allow effective suction and irrigation during the surgical process.

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 20 companies, spanning technology vendors, established medical devices companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of robotic suction and irrigation.

Key players in robotic suction and irrigation– a disruptive innovation in the medical devices industry

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

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

Patent volumes related to robotic suction and irrigation

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Johnson & Johnson 717 Unlock company profile
Stryker 59 Unlock company profile
Medtronic 56 Unlock company profile
Intuitive Surgical 50 Unlock company profile
Olympus 41 Unlock company profile
Procept Biorobotics 36 Unlock company profile
Bonutti Skeletal Innovations 30 Unlock company profile
Abbott Laboratories 28 Unlock company profile
Bio-Medical Engineering (HK) 18 Unlock company profile
Think Surgical 18 Unlock company profile
Koninklijke Philips 13 Unlock company profile
Mayo Clinic 13 Unlock company profile
Boston Scientific 7 Unlock company profile
Intellectual Ventures Management 7 Unlock company profile
Venus Concept 7 Unlock company profile
Titan Medical 6 Unlock company profile
Synaptive Medical 6 Unlock company profile
Microfabrica 6 Unlock company profile
Epidutech 5 Unlock company profile
Shifamed 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Johnson & Johnson is one of the leading patent filers in the field of robotic suction and irrigation systems. Some other key patent filers in the field, include Stryker and Medtronic.

In terms of application diversity, Bonnutti Skeletal Innovations leads the pack, followed by Think Surgical and Boston Scientific. By means of geographic reach, Epidutech holds the top position, followed by Olympus and Johnson & Johnson in the second and third spots, respectively.

A robotic suction and irrigation system provides automatically optimized flow rates for improved visualization during surgery. With further technological advances enabling remote control of robotic systems, robotic suction and irrigation systems will greatly improve remote patient care, reducing the burden on hospital infrastructure and surgeons.

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


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.