Korean government agencies should collaborate to accelerate the rapid growth of the microsurgical robotics industry, a think tank said in a report.
The Convergence Research Policy Center said in a recent report that micro-robots for medical purposes are at an “embryonic stage” around the world, which meant that there was no absolute superpower in the area yet.
Microsurgery techniques are used in various fields such as general surgery, ophthalmology, orthopedics, obstetrics and gynecology, otolaryngology, neurosurgery, and pediatric surgery, according to the report.
“As physicians deal with nerves and blood vessels that require delicate work, it is highly likely that robotics technologies will be applicable in these fields,” the report noted.
While other countries are encouraging conglomerates to join the medical field for continuous research in surgical robotics, Korea is lagging because only small- and medium-sized firms are taking the initiative to develop related technologies, the report said.
“Large medical device makers such as Medtronic and Johnson & Johnson are entering the surgical robotics market, which had been led by venture firms. The joining of mega-corporation Google has made it more difficult for local firms to secure a market share,” the report said.
As venture firms and SMEs are developers of surgical robots in Korea, they find it difficult to take the burden of the long-term and high-cost investment until commercialization.
“It can be challenging for companies with a new surgical robot system to persuade the conservative medical community to use their product, without the brand recognition and trust,” the report said.
The report called for related ministries to work together to advance domestic technological power and to create a successful business model.
To preoccupy the surgical robotics market, the government should build a cooperation system among agencies, not only for the technological development of surgical robots but also for certification, health insurance application, and standardization, the report said.
“To do so, the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Energy, the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, and the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service should build a collaboration system,” it added.
Introducing such a system will reduce the burden of commercialization and clinical trials, which will attract more companies to participate in the development of surgical robots, the report emphasized.
“The government should help companies shorten the development and licensing period and reduce investment risks through the institutional support,” it added.
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