CMR Surgical announced today that Johnson & Johnson MedTech’s Ethicon business will work with CMR to sell its Versius surgical robotics systems in select markets.
The collaboration involves commercial teams from the two companies working together. They’ll focus on selling to select hospitals in Italy, France, Germany and Brazil.
“By entering into this collaboration agreement with Ethicon in select markets, CMR believes that this combination of expertise in minimal access surgery and digital innovation will deliver an optimized offering to customers” CMR Surgical CEO Per Vegard Nerseth said in a news release. “CMR looks forward to progressing this agreement in strategically important regions as CMR continues to rapidly expand on a global scale.”
The news comes only weeks after the Cambridge, U.K.–based surgical robotics upstart announced that it had installed more than 100 Versius robotic surgery systems worldwide. There are now Versius robots in operation across Europe, Asia, Australia, Latin America, and the Middle East.
To meet the growing demand, CMR Surgical is working on building a roughly 75,000-square-foot global manufacturing hub in Cambridgeshire.
The collaboration could fuel CMR Surgical’s global expansion
Partnering with Ethicon is the latest exciting turn of events in the robot-assisted surgery space. Many big and small companies seek to compete against Intuitive, the dominant soft-tissue surgical robotics company. (Here are 16 robotic surgery companies to know. And here are eight more, including CMR.)
The Versius system features freedom of port placement. The feature enables procedures tailored to the needs of each patient. For example, surgeons can operate the way they did laparoscopically but with the benefits of robotic surgery, according to the company. In addition, Versius has a small, lightweight, modular design that health provider staff can move around “effortlessly.”
CMR Surgical says Versius is the market’s only small, modular, portable robot. The design makes it suitable for all sizes of hospitals and surgical care centers. Surgeons have the flexibility to perform a fully-robotic procedure or a combination of robotic and manual laparoscopic procedures. As a result, surgeons can decide what is best.
Partnering with Ethicon goes along with CMR Surgical’s rapid global expansion strategy. At the same time, CMR Surgical said it would continue to work and collaborate independently. Plus, investments will remain heavy for the training and servicing offered to customers.
Where is Johnson & Johnson Ethicon headed in surgical robotics?
A statement shared with MassDevice by J&J spokesperson Ryan Carbain elaborated on Ethicon’s goals in the partnership: “The targeted collaboration agreement will focus on select hospitals in specific regions, and will enable Ethicon and CMR teams to jointly offer hospitals the advantages of their complementary portfolios together. This commercial collaboration underscores Ethicon’s commitment to providing healthcare partners with best-in-class surgical solutions that focus on the unique needs of every patient.”
Meanwhile, there hasn’t been much news regarding J&J Ethicon’s plans for its Ottava system — its soft-tissue robotics play.
Today, a company statement shared with MassDevice said: “We continue to be excited about and committed to our Ottava program. We look forward to delivering a competitive soft tissue robotic solution.”
Fortis Advisors has an active lawsuit in Delaware on behalf of the Auris shareholders who were behind the Ottava technology and the previous Monarch robotic system that J&J has cleared for certain indications. Despite the challenges, Monarch continues to advance, winning a new 510(k) in May.
J&J acquired Auris in 2019 for $3.4 billion. J&J describes the lawsuit as “wholly without merit.”