FierceMedicalDevices' 2013 Fierce 15

Believe us when we tell you this: The 15 fiercest medical device and diagnostics companies of 2013 rival our first annual roundup from 2012 in terms of innovation, drive and market-changing technology.

This year's winners include a company that concocted a blood test to help spot autism earlier in children. Another developed a new device to fight obesity in a novel way, and a third came up with a novel ultrasound device to treat uterine fibroids. A fourth--a molecular diagnostics company with an extremely sensitive and precise thyroid cancer test--filed IPO plans a few weeks before this special report came out. That company's likely advance to the public market reflects a confidence about the game-changing ability of its new test, the market potential of other technology in its pipeline, and an educated guess that investors will want a piece of the action once it goes public.

Almost half of this year's winners operate in the diagnostic test or tool space, reflecting the increasing importance of the sector as the population ages and clinicians search for new ways to diagnose and manage diseases or chronic conditions. In an era in which providers are increasingly focused on controlling healthcare costs, some of these companies are smartly positioned to pitch their products as a way to help keep escalating spending in check. For some, their tests and tools are designed, in part, to improve doctors' ability to provide positive and negative diagnoses. Avoiding a diagnostic gray area can eliminate wasteful healthcare spending for otherwise healthy people or target patients who can benefit from treatment for their disease even sooner, with a definitive diagnosis in place.

This year's crop endured the struggles many startups face and came out ahead. They've attracted substantial funding from major investors in a tough market, proving the worth of their products. Many are also already in--or close to--market with their signature products, a sign of stability that draws investor commitments much more these days than companies on the earlier side of development.

We received a sizable pack of nominations this year and want to thank everyone who submitted company names. This report is the culmination of many hours spent sifting through nominees in an effort to zero in on companies poised to make a splash in the industry.

The FierceMedicalDevices Fierce 15 follows the venerable tradition established by Editor-in-Chief John Carroll with his annual list of the top 15 biotech companies in FierceBiotech. This year's list ran in late September, and you can catch it here.

Without further delay, we present to you our 2013 FierceMedicalDevices Fierce 15. Let us know what you think. And follow us as we track the paths of these promising companies in the months ahead.

-- Mark Hollmer (email | Twitter), Damian Garde (email | Twitter) and Michael Gibney (email | Twitter)