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: Surgical Biopsy Tracking and Markers.

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

Surgical biopsy tracking and markers is a key innovation area in the medical devices industry

The small clip-shaped metal tissue markers are placed at the biopsy site post a tissue sample removal to mark and track the region for additional treatment in case the tissue turns out to be malignant. The marker or clip can be viewed during the imaging to confirm its position and monitor if surgery is required. These markers are replacing the commercial tissue markers as they are easily available, economical, and readily visualized on imaging, without interfering with the treatment.

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 40+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established medical devices companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of surgical biopsy tracking and markers.

Key players in surgical biopsy tracking and markers – 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 surgical biopsy tracking and markers

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Danaher 291 Unlock company profile
Hologic 206 Unlock company profile
Waters 169 Unlock company profile
Becton Dickinson and Co 150 Unlock company profile
Johnson & Johnson 106 Unlock company profile
Koninklijke Philips 74 Unlock company profile
Boston Scientific 57 Unlock company profile
Globus Medical 46 Unlock company profile
General Electric 34 Unlock company profile
Olympus 33 Unlock company profile
Canon 30 Unlock company profile
3DBiopsy 27 Unlock company profile
BrainLAB 26 Unlock company profile
Siemens 25 Unlock company profile
Medtronic 24 Unlock company profile
Fujifilm Holdings 24 Unlock company profile
Intuitive Surgical 18 Unlock company profile
Cook Group 17 Unlock company profile
Navigate Surgical Technologies 16 Unlock company profile
Merit Medical Systems 13 Unlock company profile
Accuray 13 Unlock company profile
IMS Giotto 12 Unlock company profile
Quantum Surgical 12 Unlock company profile
Koning 11 Unlock company profile
CairnSurgical 10 Unlock company profile
XACT Robotics 10 Unlock company profile
Endomagnetics 10 Unlock company profile
ERBE Elektromedizin 10 Unlock company profile
Encapsule Medical Devices 10 Unlock company profile
Kieran Murphy 10 Unlock company profile
Curexo 9 Unlock company profile
Imagion Biosystems 9 Unlock company profile
MRI Robotics 9 Unlock company profile
MolecuLight 8 Unlock company profile
MicroTech Medical 7 Unlock company profile
Micrima 7 Unlock company profile
Smith & Nephew 7 Unlock company profile
Dilon Medical Technologies 7 Unlock company profile
Axis Surgical Technologies 7 Unlock company profile
Midea Holding 7 Unlock company profile
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Forderung der Angewandten Forschung 6 Unlock company profile
Synaptive Medical 6 Unlock company profile
Zhejiang Kindly Medical Devices 6 Unlock company profile
BioBot Surgical 5 Unlock company profile
Perfint Healthcare Pvt 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Danaher is one of the leading patent filers in surgical biopsy tracking and markers. Some other leading patent filers include Hologic, Waters, Becton Dickinson, Johnson & Johnson, and Koninklijke Philips.

In terms of application diversity, MolecuLight leads the pack, followed by Imagion Biosystems and Waters. By means of geographic reach, Merit Medical Systems holds the top position, followed by Axis Surgical Technologies and Quantum Surgical in second and third spots, respectively. 

Previously, residual diseases on images were identified as targeted lesions during the biopsy. The method has its demerit, such as the inability to identify the target, and the need to resect more tissue or excise a larger portion of the target area. Therefore, marker or clip insertion after biopsy is preferred which is attracting enormous interest due to its applications, as it allows improved patient care.

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.