Medtronic

2014 med tech R&D budget: $1.497 billion
Change from 2013 budget ($1.501 billion): -0.3%
Percent of 2014 segment sales ($17 billion): 8.8%

Now Ireland's Medtronic ($MDT) sits in second place for 2014 spending, but with the addition of Covidien (which spent $508 million on R&D in 2013), it's now the effective leader in R&D spending, though we'll have to wait for the exact annual expenditure. That's fitting for the industry's most prominent player, and one that likes to swing hard and develop products that require the FDA's stringent PMA approval.

While lobbying for the deal in the face of anger over tax inversion, Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak promised that the new company will spend an additional $10 billion on U.S. technology investments over the next 10 years. Medtronic is also excited about gaining additional expertise abroad, from Covidien's R&D facilities in Shanghai, Hyderabad, India, Trévoux, France, and other locations.

While Medtronic's traditional strength is implantable devices, Covidien will add its know-how in interventional surgical tools to the company's R&D efforts. Developing new methods of enabling minimally invasive surgery will be one of the major focuses of what's now known as the Covidien Business Group.

New product launches as a result of the transaction include the HawkOne directional atherectomy system, for surgical treatment of peripheral artery disease, and Pipeline Flex, a next-generation minimally invasive flow diversion device for treating unruptured neurovascular aneurysms.

Hypertension-lowering renal denervation is still haunted by Medtronic's flopped Symplicity trial, which announced terrible results in January 2014. While some exited the arena, the industry's bigwig is staying committed to the field and in April announced a 200-person trial aimed at eventually obtaining coveted FDA approval for its renal denervation catheter and radio-frequency generator.

Medtronic hopes adding Covidien's stable of "mid-tech" offerings will help it overcome occasional strikeouts like the one it suffered in renal denervation. In fact, in a prior interview with FierceMedicalDevices, Medtronic's chief integration officer, Geoff Martha, said "Moving forward, the combined company will prioritize devices with lower risk and the right return profile."

For a company as large and diverse as Medtronic, which plays in many therapeutic arenas, calm, carefully calibrated execution is key. "One of the biggest challenges is, you have lots of shiny objects you can chase. Sales teams and R&D teams walk out of meetings excited about all the ideas. But you have to focus," Martha said. "One of our biggest challenges is prioritizing these opportunities and maintaining focus." -- Varun Saxena (email | Twitter)

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