[THE INVESTOR] Intuitive Surgical, the world’s first manufacturer of surgical robots, opened an innovation and training center in Seoul on Nov. 7.
The Center for Surgical Innovation is the Silicon Valley-based company’s fourth such facility worldwide, designed to run robotic training programs with its da Vinci robotic surgery for domestic and foreign health care professionals. The company already runs two centers in the US and one in Japan.
A demo room at the Center for Surgical Innovation in Seoul.
For Intuitive Surgical, Korea is not a big market where some 80,000 patients have undergone the minimally invasive robot-assisted surgeries using the da Vinci system out of 4 million people globally.
Still, the company has invested 10 billion won (US$8.90 million) forseeting up the center.
“Why are we investing directly? The reason is, the people here and Korean surgeons, really have a shared culture with ours, which is that of innovation,” Gary S. Guthart, the Intuitive Surgical CEO, told reporters during a press conference at the center.
He said Korean surgeons inspire global medical societies as the application of robotic procedures in colon and rectal surgery first started in the country. They also have been taking a leadership role in head and neck surgery.
“We find here something that you do well -- interest by Korean surgeons to create better options for not only local patients but also patients around the world,” the CEO said.
Intuitive Surgical CEO Gary S. Guthart
To broaden usage of the company’s products, extensive training of surgical teams is crucial in order to gain credibility over conventional surgery.
“The training centers and labs are important because surgery is a team-based activity with the surgeon, anesthesiologist and nurses. So it’s not enough to just design the product, you have to also design the interaction. And to do that we need partnerships and collaboration with surgeons,” Guthart said.
The 3,624 square-meter center is equipped with seven da Vinci surgical systems, two demo rooms and 10 classrooms with high-tech audiovisual systems, allowing surgeons and students to experience the robot and exchange ideas.
The opening of the center comes a month after Intuitive Surgical’s latest product the da Vinci X received approval from Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety.
The da Vinci X’s core technology is summarized as “a natural extension of the surgeon’s eyes and hands into the patient,” according to Sohn Seung-wan, vice president of sales and marketing at Intuitive Surgical Korea.
The system consists of a surgeon’s console, a patient-side cart and a vision system that aims to expand the possibility of minimally invasive surgery through 3-D stereoscopic screen, capable of enlarging up to 10 times and wristed surgical instruments. It is used for urology, gynecology, general surgery, head and neck, cardiac and thoracic surgeries.
Currently, more than 4,000 da Vinci surgical systems are installed worldwide.
By Park Han-na (firstname.lastname@example.org)