Through the keyhole: How CMR spotted the gap in surgical robots

Ian Bolland caught up with Per Vegard Nerseth, CEO of CMR Surgical, to discuss the company’s recent success with Versius, its surgical robot which has been adopted in the NHS and in various other parts of the world.

Nerseth has put a lot of success down to being able to spot the right gap in the market, especially when going up against more established competitors in the surgical robot marketplace.

One word that is frequently mentioned by Nerseth is “flexibility” as Versius can be moved easily from different operating theaters and departments, allowing for higher uptake from surgeons, while the design of the modular individually cart-mounted surgical arms, enables multiple types of surgery to be easier to undertake.

“If you have a system where you have all the arms coming out from the same point you don’t have the flexibility to move the arms as freely as you would with our system. That is partly addressing how we managed to find a gap, of what was the bottlenecks or the difficulty with the existing technologies but it also, in many ways, gives us the feedback on how we can compete effectively against much larger companies than we obviously are . ”

The feedback the company has received is something that vindicates the company’s approach to the market, according to Nerseth, but the CMR’s commitment to research and development means expanding its offering is always being considered, particularly when it comes to instruments.

“When we came to the market in the end of 2019, we had a relatively limited suite of instruments.

“What we’re working on today is really expanding that offering, having more different types of instruments and consumables as number one and the other part where we are investing heavily in technology and innovation is around digital and data.

“When you place a robot in between the surgeon and the patient that really enables you to gather a lot of data and information that we analyze and send it to the doctors and to the hospitals for them to continue to improve the way they do surgery. That’s where we are continuing to invest, and we would like to continue to be a disruptive and innovative company. ”

CMR has had success in being adopted by various NHS Trusts but also has a footprint in various other parts of the world, with Germany, France, Egypt, Italy, Pakistan, Poland, and the United Arab Emirates all among the countries which has seen the adoption of this innovation.

Having a reputation of being adopted by the NHS is something that Nerseth feels has been a great asset for the Cambridge-based company in breaking into overseas markets.

“The NHS is well known around the world as a healthcare system. It is well known as a cost-conscious system, so clearly it is a kind of ‘tick’ in many other countries.

“If we can compete with an incumbent player or some of the larger companies at an NHS Trust, there must be something good there. That’s clearly been beneficial for us. You can claim it was a conscious decision to enter the UK before (overseas markets), but obviously the UK is our home market, so it is important for us to be strong in our home market.

“Currently, we are present in 20 countries, and we see strong, strong demand. Today we are active in the public sector like the NHS but also if I take the India market as one, example that has both a private and governmental healthcare system, and we see that we can sell in both healthcare systems which, again, is another great achievement for us. ”

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