With an attitude for innovation, collaboration and cross-fertilization, Medtronic has been a leader in medical technology (MedTech) in the Netherlands for the last 50 years. Taking root in the fertile ground of the Netherlands, Medtronic has been the driver of innovative research collaborations, which are taking health care further, together, to the future.
Leader in medical technology
Founded in the USA, in 1949, as a medical equipment repair company, Medtronic has grown to become one of the largest medical technology companies in the world. Over many years, the company has developed its core technologies, including implantable mechanical devices, drug and biologic delivery devices, and powered and advanced energy surgical instruments. Through a process of ongoing innovation and collaboration, Medtronic helps to alleviate pain, restore health and extend patient life. In 2018, Medtronic’s medical therapies for the treatment of over 70 major conditions, helped improve the lives of more than 71 million people around the world – equivalent to two people every second.
Medtronic has had a presence in the province of Limburg, in the south of the Netherlands, since 1969 and is this year celebrating its 50th anniversary. Today, all of Medtronic’s therapy groups and divisions are represented here, and the company employs around 3,000 people, including contractors, throughout the Netherlands.
Location. Logistics. Loquacity.
When, in 1969, Medtronic co-founder Earl Bakken was looking for a location for the first facility outside of US, he came to the Netherlands and opted for South-Limburg because of its centralized location and the rapid and easy connections with the rest of Europe. Key considerations, both then and now, included direct access to excellent road, rail and air infrastructure. Additionally, the proximity of the major sea harbors of Rotterdam and Antwerp, combined with the very close proximity to air hubs of major global transport integrators, made South Limburg the ideal location to establish operations. Sikko Zoer – VP Customer Care and Supply Chain, EMEA: “Medtronic the Netherlands is located mostly in Limburg. This province is called ‘the balcony of Europe’, which accounts for the international mindset of the inhabitants (the Limburgers). The ample availability of a well-trained labor force with the necessary language skills contributed significantly to Medtronic’s global growth from Limburg”.
Collaborative LSH ecosystem
In 1987, Medtronic founded the Bakken Research Center (BRC) in Maastricht with 45 employees. Today, that number has grown to more than 400 international talents from 35 different nationalities. BRC is unique due to the multiple specialties and expertise concentrated at one location – which stimulates cross-fertilization and collaboration. Multiple Business Units work together at Medtronic BRC, enabling the sharing of knowledge and best practices. Leo Kretzers – Vice President and General Manager of the Medtronic Bakken Research Center: “We are unique, as we have a leading role in driving access to Medtronic therapies, from idea to market adoption”. BRC is one of the largest Medtronic R&D campuses outside the United States. BRC’s many international experts and scientists work closely with Dutch knowledge institutes such as Maastricht University, the University Academic Hospital and the multiple innovation campuses at Brightlands. In recent years, BRC has been at the forefront of key medical device innovations such as dual-chamber pacemakers, sacral neuromodulation, cardiac resynchronization therapy and deep brain stimulation. The Bakken Research Center excels in therapy innovation, clinical and economic evidence, regulatory approval and translations.
Medtronic is an active participant in regional educational initiatives, with direct connections to regional educational institutes for middle- and higher education. A prime example is the in-house training for Logistics operator that has been developed in close collaboration with colleagues/regional MedTech companies, training institutes, the Province of Limburg and the municipalities in the region. This collaboration led to the establishment of the successful ‘Beyond’ project – a unique medical device and medical supply chain community. The project aims to attract potential employees ‘with a distance to the labor market’ and offer them in-company training on the job and in-house education, ultimately resulting in an official MBO certificate for Logistics operator. In this way, in parallel to its mission to improve patient lives, Medtronic is helping to ensure the future of young people in the region and contributing to the local Dutch life sciences and health ecosystem.
Together, to the future
Medtronic’s original ethos of helping patients further together is, and remains, the primary driver. This is set out clearly in the company’s mission statement: “Through a process of ongoing innovation and collaboration, Medtronic helps to alleviate pain, restore health and extend patient life.” Medtronic is continuously looking for new ways to ensure that its efforts are impactful and well-executed, and this cannot be achieved in isolation. Today, collaboration is an essential part of its modern ecosystem for innovation. Consequently, Medtronic collaborates intensively with academia, industry, society and governments, referred to as the Quadruple Helix approach. This collaboration ultimately contributes to the further development of medical technology and the improvement of patient and economic outcomes, taking healthcare further.