The medical devices industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by an 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 digitalisation. 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 Robotics in Medical Devices: Guided Robotic Catheters.

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, HUDs for surgical navigation, robotic biopsy endoscope, and camera-guided surgical robots are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Robotic exoskeleton, surgical robots, and robotic catheters are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are robotic lower limb rehabilitation and microfluidic lab-on-a-chip, which are now well established in the industry. 

Innovation S-curve for robotics in the medical devices industry

Guided robotic catheters is a key innovation area in robotics

Guided robotic catheters are navigation systems that help surgeons perform complex procedures through minimally invasive techniques and image guidance while improving the quality and outcome of procedures.

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 guided robotic catheters.

Key players in guided robotic catheters – 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 guided robotic catheters

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Johnson & Johnson 390 Unlock company profile
Koninklijke Philips 171 Unlock company profile
Becton Dickinson and Co 160 Unlock company profile
Intuitive Surgical 153 Unlock company profile
Abbott Laboratories 118 Unlock company profile
Medtronic 93 Unlock company profile
ASAN Foundation 24 Unlock company profile
Moray Medical 21 Unlock company profile
Robocath 18 Unlock company profile
Stent Tek 16 Unlock company profile
Thermo Fisher Scientific 15 Unlock company profile
Siemens 15 Unlock company profile
Avanos Medical 14 Unlock company profile
XACT Robotics 12 Unlock company profile
Cardionxt 11 Unlock company profile
Olympus 10 Unlock company profile
Cardioguidance Biomedical 10 Unlock company profile
Shanghai MicroPort EP MedTech 8 Unlock company profile
ClearPoint Neuro 8 Unlock company profile
Surgi-Vision 8 Unlock company profile
Avinger 7 Unlock company profile
Navisonics 7 Unlock company profile
CoapTech 6 Unlock company profile
Canon 6 Unlock company profile
Lucent Medical Systems 5 Unlock company profile
Panasonic 5 Unlock company profile
Surgivisio 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Johnson & Johnson is one of the leading patent filers in the field of guided robotic catheters. Some other key patent filers in the field include Koninklijke Philips, Becton Dickinson, Intuitive Surgical and Abbott Laboratories.

In terms of application diversity, Panasonic leads the pack, followed by Olympus and CoapTech. By means of geographic reach, Robocath held the top position, followed by ClearPoint Neuro and Cardioguidance Biomedical in second and third spots, respectively.

With the help of guided robotic catheters, interventional procedures can be performed faster and with less radiation exposure, as compared to traditional catheterisation. Robotic catheterisation tools enable medical personnel to influence the target tissue and aid in the distribution of drugs or antibiotics to fend against infections and disease. In the near future, these systems will drive a push towards procedures done by surgeons off-site and separated from the patients themselves.

To further understand how robotics is disrupting the medical devices industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Robotics in Medical (2021).


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.