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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 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: Microfludic Lab-on-a-chip. 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 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

Microfluidic lab-on-a-chip is a key innovation area in Robotics

Lab-on-a-chip (LOC) is a device that performs multiple laboratory functions such as DNA sequencing, PCR or biochemical detection, on a single integrated circuit called "chip" measuring only millimetres to a few square centimetres. Microfluidic technologies utilise lab-on-a-chip devices for the production of millions of microchannels. These devices  reduce the cost of diagnosis, increase accuracy and reduce human involvement.

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 70+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established medical devices companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of microfluidic lab-on-a-chip.

Key players in microfluidic lab-on-a-chip – 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 microfludic Lab-on-a-chip

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Becton Dickinson and Co 352 Unlock Company Profile
Sanofi 61 Unlock Company Profile
Magnolia Medical Technologies 58 Unlock Company Profile
Atomo Diagnostics 51 Unlock Company Profile
Abbott Laboratories 49 Unlock Company Profile
Anpac Bio-Medical Science 46 Unlock Company Profile
F. Hoffmann-La Roche 44 Unlock Company Profile
PHC Holdings 32 Unlock Company Profile
Canon 31 Unlock Company Profile
Takeda Pharmaceutical 31 Unlock Company Profile
Zimmer Biomet Holdings 30 Unlock Company Profile
Cue Health 26 Unlock Company Profile
Labrador Diagnostics 22 Unlock Company Profile
Halcyon Biomedical 22 Unlock Company Profile
Fujifilm Holdings 21 Unlock Company Profile
I-Sens 21 Unlock Company Profile
Meso Scale Technologies 20 Unlock Company Profile
First Light Diagnostics 18 Unlock Company Profile
OPKO Health 17 Unlock Company Profile
Danaher 16 Unlock Company Profile
General Electric 16 Unlock Company Profile
Fresenius 15 Unlock Company Profile
FABPulous 15 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens 14 Unlock Company Profile
Weavr Health 14 Unlock Company Profile
Quidel 12 Unlock Company Profile
Charles Stark Draper Laboratory 12 Unlock Company Profile
Orthogen 12 Unlock Company Profile
Greiner 12 Unlock Company Profile
IMEC, VZW 11 Unlock Company Profile
CellPly 11 Unlock Company Profile
Children's Medical Center 11 Unlock Company Profile
Illumina 10 Unlock Company Profile
Scryb 10 Unlock Company Profile
CapitalBio 10 Unlock Company Profile
Boditech Med 10 Unlock Company Profile
Alphabet 9 Unlock Company Profile
DxTerity Diagnostics 9 Unlock Company Profile
Hewlett Packard Enterprise 9 Unlock Company Profile
Talis Biomedical 8 Unlock Company Profile
Idaho Technology 8 Unlock Company Profile
Axxin 8 Unlock Company Profile
Cgbio 8 Unlock Company Profile
ITL Health Group 8 Unlock Company Profile
PerkinElmer 8 Unlock Company Profile
Compagnie Merieux Alliance 8 Unlock Company Profile
Sanwa BioTech 7 Unlock Company Profile
LifeAssays 7 Unlock Company Profile
Teleflex Medical 7 Unlock Company Profile
Meso Scale Diagnostics 7 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Becton Dickinson is one of the leading patent filers of microfluidic LOC technology. Some other key patent filers in the field include Sanofi, Magnolia Medical Technologies and Abbott Laboratories.

In terms of application diversity, Sanofi leads the pack, followed by Teleflex Medical, Becton Dickinson, and Atomo Diagnostics. By means of geographic reach, Children’s Medical Center holds the top position, followed by DxTerity Diagnostics and Axxin in the second and third spots, respectively.

Microfluidic LOC has been enhancing the biochemical detection processes. Testing and process monitoring in the life sciences, medical, and pharmaceutical industries can benefit greatly from micro-scaling laboratory procedures. Increased investments and continuing research in this field will make these devices to be widely available in healthcare facilities and at home to provide real-time monitoring of health.

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

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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.