Surgical Robotics – The Changing Competitive Landscape of the Market

Written by Aditya Singh, Senior Analyst - BIS Research

The overall surgical robotics market is evolving at a very rapid pace, with more and more companies now entering the market. The landscape of surgical robotics includes more than 90 companies and academic & research institutions that are developing novel surgical robotic platforms. These companies are more aligned toward developing a platform that is targeted at niche surgical procedures. The incorporation of advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (level 1 and 2) and haptic are also beneficial advantages to the current offerings. 
This specific market within the healthcare domain is a perfect blend of both big MedTech players such as Medtronic, Stryker, Zimmer, and J&J and small players, which are heavily funded by investors. This market exhibits intense competition in terms of product pricing, technological evolution, and surgical applications. The market witnessed an influx of huge funding of more than $4 billion from 2005-2020, highlighting the tremendous scope lying in this domain. 
Since the first commercialization of the da Vinci system (Intuitive Surgical, Inc.) back in 2000, it took more than 20 years to have an installed base of 5,989 systems till December 2020. It is just the beginning stage for the surgical robotics platform, and it is anticipated to grow with double-digit year-on-year growth in the future.
The latest market study by BIS Research, titled “Global Surgical Robotics Market,” focuses on the product type, surgical applications, end-user, and regional analysis. The market study offers an in-depth analysis of competitive assessment, COVID-19 impact, pricing analysis, investment scenario, potential market dynamics.
During the report development, the analysts collaborated with various stakeholders to gain a better understanding of the technological aspects of surgical robotic platforms. Following is an excerpt from the conversation between Aditya Singh, Senior Analyst at BIS Research, and Sang-Hun Lee, Director of Curexo, Inc.
Q: Can you tell us more about Curexo Inc. company?
A: The company was started in 2006 with the aim of exceptional research and development activities, and as of now, we have grown into a team of more than 70 employees. Four years back, the company signed an agreement to acquire Hyundai’s medical robotics business for $9.7 million. This enables us to enter in medical robotics market for surgery and rehabilitation applications with our own robotic platform. In 2020, we sold a total of 18 systems, including eight CUVIS-Joint surgical systems, five training robotic systems, and three CUVIS-Spine surgical systems.
Q: Can you tell us about your company’s offerings?
A: Our company offers three different robotic platforms. One is the CUVIS-joint surgical robotic system which is used for orthopedic joint replacement surgeries. Our CUVIS-joint received approval from South Korea in June 2020 and CE Mark in March 2021. Our second product is the CUVIS-spine surgical robotic system for spinal fusion surgery. Our CUVIS-spine received approval from South Korea in December 2019, CE Mark in May 2020, and we expect to receive U.S. FDA approval in 2021. Our third system is Morning Walk, a rehabilitation robot system.
Q: Can you confirm if there is any connection between Think Surgical, Inc. and Curexo, Inc.?
A: Our parent company is the South Korea-based Yakult Company. The Yakult Company owns 35% of the shares in our company and 40% shares of Think Surgical, Inc. In a sense, both Curexo and Think Surgical are sister companies. Also, we have some share of Think Surgical as well. In the initial days, we used to sell Think Surgical’ platforms in South Korea because we had some distribution rights for it. Also, Curexo and Think Surgical’s platforms are based on different technologies.
Q: As the CUVIS platform is based on artificial intelligence, what are your views on implementing artificial intelligence in surgical robotic platforms?
A: Currently, we are using artificial intelligence mainly for image processing applications such as bone segmentation and its analysis. The implementation of artificial intelligence in a surgical robotic platform requires a lot of data inputs for even one application. The AI is a crucial part of any research and development activities conducted for the robotic platform, and I think in the upcoming year, it will be implemented in almost all robotic platforms.
Q: There are two surgical robotic manufacturers based in South Korea, one is Curexo, and the other one is meerecompany. What is your take on meerecompany?
A: We do not have a direct competition with meerecompany as our platforms are for orthopedic surgery and meerecompany’s platform is for laparoscopic procedures. Their system is a unique platform, and they have sold around 3 to 4 systems in South Korea and two systems in Ukraine. Recently, they have completed a test case for obstetrics and gynecology surgery. I believe till now they have made good progress, and I wish them good luck for their future expansions.

*All answers have been reproduced with permission from the respondents.

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