Medtronic's Brainstorm in Neurology
Medtronic's neurology business grew out of its cardiology technology and has become its fastest growing unit. Now the company is learning how to be a marketing pioneer.
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The hottest clinical space in medical devices may very well be stroke and the hottest technology area could be neurostimulation. Northstar combines both opportunities with an innovative system that addresses a largely un-addressed market--chronic stroke--by stimulating the cortex of the brain. And as promising as this therapy is, it may only be the tip of the iceberg for Northstar
At a time when the US industry is undergoing perhaps its most serious crisis of leadership and confidence, it was appropriate that Bill George, former chairman and CEO of Medtronic was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement award at this year's Phoenix Medical Device and Diagnostic conference for CEOs, sponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers, Versant Ventures, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, and Windhover Information. Honoring Bill George at this particular time is propitious because George has spent his career promoting the importance of individual values and responsibility in corporate leadership, and has just published "Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value," a book that defines the qualities he considers essential attributes for corporate leaders to successfully manage companies built to deliver long-term value.
Most small medical device companies develop innovative proprietary technology in hopes of unseating much larger rivals--on the theory that physicians care more about the effectiveness of the technology than who makes it. But Advanced Neuromodulation Systems sees things differently. Its main competition is device giant Medtronic, which not only leads in terms of market share, but has been a technology innovator. ANS's play: not to defeat Medtronic at its own game, but to carve out a lucrative part of the chronic pain management market under Medtronic's radar.