Medtronic VP Mike Marinaro details the 'full, holistic approach' of the newly combined surgical robotics, devices unit

Last month, Medtronic confirmed that it had quietly combined its surgical robotics and surgical innovations operating units into a single segment, effective Feb. 1.

The newly created surgical unit is led by Mike Marinaro, a two-decade veteran of Medtronic who had previously been tapped as president of the surgical robotics business in early 2022. In a statement sent to Fierce Medtech confirming the restructuring last month, Medtronic said that the combination would allow it to “capitalize on one of the most attractive markets in all of healthcare—a market that is forecasted to nearly double over the next 10 years.”

Top of mind for the department is Hugo, Medtronic’s robotic-assisted surgery system, which made its long-awaited debut in 2021 by helping perform a minimally invasive prostatectomy procedure in Chile. Though not yet available in the U.S., the surgical robot has been cleared for a range of general surgery and laparoscopic procedures—including urologic and gynecological surgeries—across the globe, with authorizations in Latin and South America, the Asia-Pacific region, Canada and Europe.

In a recent interview with Fierce Medtech about the combined business unit, Marinaro, who also became an executive VP at Medtronic alongside his appointment as president of the unit, described Hugo as “a fun product to launch”—an enthusiasm that he reiterated throughout the discussion, which he concluded by saying, “Importantly, we’re excited here as we go forward as a singular business.”

Here, Marinaro discusses the motivation behind creating a streamlined surgical operating unit and what’s next on the to-do list.

Responses have been lightly edited.

Fierce Medtech: What was the reasoning behind combining the surgical devices and robotics units? What does this combination allow you to do?

Mike Marinaro: The timing was really right for us to create this combination. We’ve had the teams working separately, but had created a strategy that allowed us to cut across all things surgical. We had taken this incubator approach to surgical robotics, and once we had the opportunity to launch Hugo into the marketplace and start to get some traction, we now want to make sure that we’re taking a full, holistic approach to all things surgical.

We’re the only company that can offer whatever modality our customers want to pursue—open, minimally invasive or [laparoscopic]—and to be able to then drive one strategy, one approach to our innovation and one approach to the customer is critical. That sort of was the original rationale behind us pursuing a robot all those years ago, and now the time is right to put it back together and really accelerate that work.

FM: Speaking of Hugo, what’s the timeline looking like for a U.S. launch?

MM: We are progressing according to plan. We’ve initiated our first U.S. [investigational device exemption] trial for our urology indication, and I’ll say that that study is moving along according to plan. We’re not providing any specific dates at this point, but I will say that we’re making good progress.

FM: Beyond Hugo, as you're streamlining the structure of the unit, are there other specific product lines or areas that you’re going to be really focusing on and any that you’ll be phasing out or moving away from?

MM: You know, it’s been a really interesting time for me to come into this business after having been at Medtronic for some time—to just really understand the strength of our portfolio. Of course, vessel sealing and stapling are areas of real strength for us, but there’s opportunities across other parts of the portfolio as well. Elements of things like suture or hernia, which are growth areas for us, really provide an opportunity for us to think about how we exploit those in this broader strategy moving forward.

So I’d say rather than de-emphasizing things, it’s more around, where can we emphasize our strength? And then starting to think about how we go forward as a single entity.

FM: As you look ahead, what’s next on the to-do list for the surgical unit?

MM: Well, we’re going through the work of putting our organization together, so we’re in the process of landing the organization and then fully operationalizing the joint business unit. And then, it’s really to just continue our focused efforts around innovation and focused efforts around deploying Hugo effectively in markets around the globe, and really starting to work together as a singular team.

FM: Looking at the medical surgical portfolio as a whole, with the renal care division now gone, and respiratory and patient monitoring about to spin out, what does the future of MedSurg look like at Medtronic?

MM: I’m just really focused on where I’m operating—not trying to be evasive here, but rather really taking advantage of the opportunity that’s in front of us in the surgical business. The opportunity that we have in front of us in surgical is big, and so we’re just really focused on that.