Medtronic headquarters

Within the frames of the IEEE EMBC’09 conference, we were given a chance to visit the headquarters of Medtronic Inc. Medtronic is the world’s 2nd biggest medical device company, with a mere 14 B USD sales last year, providing jobs for 38,000 people in 120 countries. More importantly, they invested 10% of that to R&D. Earl Bakken, the founder of the company was the special invited speaker at the Gala dinner, and he spoke about the history of the company. He was greatly inspired by the 1931 Frankenstein movie to create electrical systems for medical purposes. They started in 1949 in a small garage with huge dreams. Their motto is "To contribute to human welfare by application of biomedical engineering in the research, design, manufacture, and sale of instruments or appliances that alleviate pain, restore health, and extend life.". Earl Bakken’s personal dreams that he has already made come true include measuring the ECG signal of a humpbackwhale, sailing around Hawaii, building a kiss-o-meter, inventing a better radar for the airforce, creating a medical technology history museum and many other things.
In 1957 they tested their first external pacemaker, and heart beat regulation quickly became their major profile. Nowadays their treatment profile includes heart and vascular diseases, neurological and spinal disorders, chronic pain, diabetes, urological and digestive system disorders, ENT problems.
The company’s main center for both research and business is still in Minneapolis, just 15 min drive from downtown. The core facility usually does not accept visitors, but they were kind to show us around. To support their major product lines (pacemakers, implants, neurostimulators) they have their own research and manufacturing capabilities for material sciences, batteries, plastic caging and so on. Medtronic has several internal awards, honor societies and merits to promote and reward in-house innovation and leadership.
Medtronic Navigation, the surgical guidance business is located in Louisville, CO. They build and commercialize surgical navigation and intra-operative imaging systems, such as the StealthStation product line, equipped with either optical or electromagnetic tracking capability.


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