Friday Five: The medtech week in review (13 February 2020)

The climbers and sliders in medtech's top 10; VC deal-making starts off with a bang in 2020; Endomag gets one up on Merit in breast cancer surgery space; Santen-Verily JV underlines digital tech's irresistible draw for pharma; coronavirus updates.

Medtronic holds strong, while Abbott and Siemens make their moves

With most of the leading medtech companies having turned in their fiscal 2019 results, FirstWord Medtech this week put together a roll call of the 10 biggest medtech players. There were no changes at the top and bottom ends of the list, but some movement was noted among the mid-listers. These climbers included Abbott and Siemens Healthineers, who benefited from solid revenue growth in fiscal 2019 whilst taking advantage of weaker performances from their rivals. 

To get full details of who sits where in this year's medtech top 10 rankings, see The Wider View: Medtech Top 10 - Abbott displaces GE among this year's ranking swaps

Another $1 billion start to VC deal-making in 2020

A record high in venture financing deal volume for the first month of 2020 gave a significant leg-up to deal value. January saw over $1.27 billion raised from nearly 50 fundraises that provided financial details. This is the second consecutive January in the last five years, where over $1 billion was raised (see table below); last January benefitted from a single mega round - Verily's $1-billion raise - while this January past recorded several chunky transactions, including two $100 million-plus financings and four in the $50 million-$100 million range.

Total medtech VC raised in January across five years







Amount VC funds raised in January ($m)






See Spotlight On: January’s VC deal flow for more details about who invested in what and other VC investment trends. 

Endomag gets ahead of bigger rival Merit in breast cancer surgery space

Among the product approvals announced this week was Endomag's extended CE mark to market its Magseed wireless magnetic tumour marker for implantation in any soft tissue over a longer period of more than 30 days. Endomag competes head-to-head with Merit Medical Systems, a significant player in the interventional oncology space, which began offering the Savi Scout (a wireless radar-based marker) after it acquired Cianna Medical in 2018. Cianna has the biggest installed base in the US, according to Endomag CEO Eric Mayes, but Savi Scout is not yet CE marked for commercialisation in Europe. 

See The Wider View: Endomag gets EU edge over Merit with expanded Magseed approval to find out how this extended CE mark will help boost Endomag's overall revenue and enable it to maintain its high double-digit growth rates. 

Santen seeks to capitalise on digital's "transformative" power with Verily JV

Japanese ophthalmology-focused company Santen Pharmaceutical has followed in the footsteps of other pharma firms like Sanofi and Alcon in pairing up with Verily to broaden out its drug-heavy portfolio and get in on the digital health action. Santen clarified that the joint venture it has set up with Verily will be developing digital technologies that can not only diagnose disease, but improve and deliver more precise treatments. Devices currently make up less than 2% of Santen's total revenue and the products it currently offers are mainly intraocular lenses for cataract patients. The lure of the digital health space looks too strong for Santen to resist, it seems, in spite of recent news indicating how these pharma-digital alliances don't always run too smoothly (see The Wider View: Verily-Santen JV shows pharma's appetite for digital devices, but are Santen's eyes bigger than its stomach?  for further analysis).

Santen told FirstWord MedTech that "digital technology has become a transformative driver and is shaping a major trend in healthcare. We hope that the establishment of this joint venture will be an important step toward changing the way people around the world care for their eyes in the future."

Fight continues against fast-spreading coronavirus

Any glimmer of hope that the 2019-nCoV outbreak might have peaked has been snuffed out, with this week seeing the biggest jump in the number of confirmed cases and deaths caused by this coronavirus. This has not slowed down efforts from health authorities, as well as the pharma and diagnostics companies, to tackle this seemingly worsening public health emergency as the list of new tests being developed and pushed out for use in the field continues to grow at a fast pace. Since last week's Friday Five, companies from around the world including Novacyte, Mobidiag, Cepheid, HiberGene and more have announced that they're working on tests for the coronavirus. Non-IVD firms are also doing what they can by donating funds or equipment, like Medtronic, which said it has committed around $1.2 million to coronavirus relief efforts.

To get the latest updates on the coronavirus, click here.

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