Medtronic exec 'enthusiastic' about Israel's R&D potential

Medtronic Senior Vice President Stephen Oesterle praised Israel's on-the-come-up device industry--courtesy of Medtronic

The Israeli medical device world has been heating up of late, with companies such as Dune Medical Devices and Given Imaging ($GIVN) snagging dollars and headlines for innovative technologies. And a Medtronic ($MDT) exec says the company keeps an eye on the country's med tech industry for M&A opportunities.

In an interview with Globes, Senior Vice President for Medicine and Technology Stephen Oesterle said Israel's entrepreneurial culture is great for medical device startups, but the country is facing a venture capital contraction, as investments in risky healthcare companies has shrunk by about 60% over the past few years.

That said, the country's R&D potential is enticing, Oesterle said, and Medtronic has been an active investor in forward-thinking Israeli devicemakers such as NovoCure, which makes a tumor-fighting instrument. And while Medtronic plans to keep investing in the country's industry, it faces a quandary: Pour money in on the front end to support development, or sit back and make a full-on acquisition once there's a marketable product?

"On the other hand, there is also the approach that says that you come up with innovations very well without external help, so why hold your engineers 'in captivity?'" Oesterle told Globes. "It's better for me to invest, let the start-up grow and acquire it later. These are strategic questions that each one of our business divisions needs to address."

- read the interview

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