Medtronic senior VP Stephen Oesterle: It’s best for me to invest, let the start up grown and then acquire it.
…Tell us about the exciting products that Medtronic is developing today
“We joined forces with Ford in creating Onstar, a system which monitors the car at all time and transfers information about the driver’s wellbeing and ability to drive, etc.” Osterle also lists the “artificial pancreas” – a system that takes glucose reading to determine the exact dosage of insulin.
Another product addresses the reduction of severe hypertension which does not respond well to pharmaceutical treatment, by means of denervation, or intentional interruption of the nervous system that leads to the kidney. Medtronic acquired Ardian, the developer of the product, in exchange for USD 800 million and additional milestone payments that would bring the total amount to billions of dollars. This product is now awaiting the FDA clearance in the USA.
When you first came to Israel, you were beyond yourself with enthusiasm. Do you still feel this way?
“The environment in Israel is very healthy. However, the venture capital community is in a problem. In the healthcare area in particular, the capital allocated to risky companies shrank by 50%-60%. Now Medtronic is assuming part of the investment in young companies. The scope of the investment by medical instrumentation corporations in these stages has doubled over the past few years, accounting to 20% of the total investment today.”
California-based startup PowerVision announced Friday that Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) has become a strategic investor in a $24.7 million funding round that included other investors.
As a result of the investment, Medtronic’s Dr. Stephen Oesterle, senior vice president, medicine and technology at Medtronic, will serve as an observer on the board of PowerVision, an ophthalmology company.
PowerVision is developing an “accommodating intraocular lens” that aims to restore a person’s ability to adjust focus to see things far and nearby and everything in between. The technology is designed to mimic a normal, functioning lens.
“As the population ages, addressing patient needs in ophthalmology will continue to be extremely important,” said Oesterle, in a news release. “We’re excited to be involved in this novel technology.”
Medtronic recently released the results of its deep brain stimulation therapy for epilepsy, in which a device was surgically implanted into the brain to electrically stimulate certain targets. Will such treatments become commonplace?
Well, first of all, this technology isn’t specific to just epilepsy. For instance, we’ve already developed a Deep Brain Stimulation process for treating a neuropsychiatric disorder called obsessive compulsive disorder in which we target certain structures in the brain to ameliorate if not abolish the symptoms, which can be crippling for some people. We’re also in the middle of doing a study in which we will try to stimulate patients into a mood altering situation in order to erase profound symptoms of drug-resistant depression. We also have similar targets for drug addiction and Deep Brain Stimulation is an approved approach and a standard of care for advanced Parkinson’s disease. So the epilepsy story is just a continuing application for a technology that we’ve been developing over 20 years.
Stephen Oesterle at TEDMED 2010
Just when you thought things couldn’t get any smaller, Medtronic’s Stephen Oesterle show’s us something new in a ‘big’ way!