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 of 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: Robotic surgery navigation planning.

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

Robotic surgery navigation planning is a key innovation area in robotics

Surgical navigation technology enables a surgeon to calculate the instrument position and precise location of the target area in patients for pre-operative planning or intraoperative surgical navigation. Robotic surgery navigation systems are highly flexible and provide improved surgical accuracy with reduced error margins to improve clinical outcomes. These have replaced the conventional fluoroscopy methods as they reduce the radiation exposure time and provide better visual guidance.

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 robotic surgery navigation planning.

Key players in robotic surgery navigation planning – 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 surgery navigation planning

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Johnson & Johnson 338 Unlock company profile
Koninklijke Philips 332 Unlock company profile
Heartflow 253 Unlock company profile
Medtronic 248 Unlock company profile
Siemens 154 Unlock company profile
Stryker 145 Unlock company profile
BrainLAB 116 Unlock company profile
Synaptive Medical 96 Unlock company profile
Canon 77 Unlock company profile
Intuitive Surgical 49 Unlock company profile
Abbott Laboratories 47 Unlock company profile
Elekta 40 Unlock company profile
Elbit Imaging 37 Unlock company profile
Olympus 34 Unlock company profile
General Electric 32 Unlock company profile
Sony Group 31 Unlock company profile
Globus Medical 31 Unlock company profile
Fujifilm Holdings 25 Unlock company profile
Samsung Group 25 Unlock company profile
Venus Concept 25 Unlock company profile
Theator 23 Unlock company profile
Smith & Nephew 22 Unlock company profile
Carl Zeiss Stiftung 22 Unlock company profile
Body Vision Medical 21 Unlock company profile
KinetiCor 21 Unlock company profile
Koh Young Technology 20 Unlock company profile
AMDT Holdings 19 Unlock company profile
Demant 19 Unlock company profile
International Business Machines 19 Unlock company profile
Alcon 18 Unlock company profile
NovaRad 17 Unlock company profile
SeaSpine Holdings 15 Unlock company profile
Mitsubishi Electric 15 Unlock company profile
NuVasive 14 Unlock company profile
Elbit Systems 14 Unlock company profile
Brain Navi Biotechnology 13 Unlock company profile
Dentsply Sirona 13 Unlock company profile
Clear Guide Medical 12 Unlock company profile
Medical Imaging Research Holding 12 Unlock company profile
OrthoGrid Systems 12 Unlock company profile
EDDA Technology 11 Unlock company profile
Hitachi 11 Unlock company profile
Shanghai United Imaging Healthcare 10 Unlock company profile
Erasmus MC 10 Unlock company profile
Groupe Industriel Marcel Dassault 9 Unlock company profile
Cydar 9 Unlock company profile
Surgalign Holdings 9 Unlock company profile
Chang Gung Memorial Foundation 9 Unlock company profile
Renishaw 9 Unlock company profile
Navigate Surgical Technologies 9 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Johnson & Johnson and Koninklijke Philips are two of the leading patent filers in the field of robotic surgery navigation planning. Some other leading patent filers include Heartflow, Medtronic and Siemens.

In terms of application diversity, Theator leads the pack, followed by International Business Machines (IBM) and Fujifilm Holdings. By means of geographic reach, Erasmus MC held the top position, followed by Johnson & Johnson and NuVasive in second and third spots, respectively.

Though robotic surgery navigation planning has been around in operating theatres for quite some time, challenges such as high cost, accessibility, and skill set to use the systems should be addressed to further expand their usage. Advancements in technology are expected to curb some of these challenges. Also, efforts should made to train more healthcare professionals in order to meet the demand.

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.