[BLT Insight]Surgical robot technology in Korea

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The deployment of surgical robots in operating rooms is active. Currently, many university hospitals in South Korea have more than one surgical robot, and even mid-sized hospitals are operating them. Particularly, as minimally invasive laparoscopic (abdominal non-open) surgeries are increasing due to modern medical trends, the demand for surgical robots capable of performing such procedures is rapidly rising. While mechanical assistants were predominantly used to aid doctors in delicate laparoscopic surgeries, robots are now aiming to replace them.


[Image] Definitions of surgical robot technology levels


The company leading the robotic surgery market is Intuitive Surgical's da Vinci system from the United States. The da Vinci system's wire-driven surgical robot can move like human wrists and joints, allowing it to perform surgeries within the abdomen. The da Vinci system can use three or more surgical instruments and has evolved into the da Vinci SP, which minimizes scarring and recovery time. Witnessing the success of the da Vinci system, companies like CMR Surgical and Acurray from the UK have also launched their own laparoscopic surgical systems. Additionally, Stryker has released orthopedic and dental surgery robots, introducing various surgical robots to the market.

[Image] Intuitive Surgical's da Vinci surgical robot system


Korean companies are also actively participating in this surgical robot market. Connecteve Co., Ltd. (CEO Roh Doo-hyun) has successfully attracted investment (Pre-A, 4 billion won) due to its recognized technological capabilities in AI-based artificial joint surgery robots. Connecteve  Co., Ltd. has developed robots that can precisely perform artificial joint surgeries based on AI and solutions that analyze artificial joints using X-rays. With this investment, Connecteve Co., Ltd. plans to hire personnel for next-generation surgical robot development and obtain medical device approval for its AI-based musculoskeletal interpretation assistance software. In the future, they plan to build high-quality AI technology using over 100,000 data points directly labeled by university hospital specialists.


[Image] Connecteve Co., Ltd.'s AI-based X-ray joint analysis solution


Endorobotic Co., Ltd. (CEO Hong Dae-hee), a domestic surgical robot company, has also succeeded in attracting investment (Series B, 10 billion won) due to its recognized technological capabilities. Endorobotic's surgical robot is a non-invasive robot implemented with cables, designed to be attachable and detachable from endoscopes, allowing for non-resection treatment of early-stage gastrointestinal cancers. Utilizing the Rose platform, scarring can be avoided, and general anesthesia is not required, increasing surgical safety. Endorobotic plans to use the invested funds for product mass production, entry into the U.S. market, and technology advancement.


[Image] Endorobotic Co., Ltd.'s surgical robot


The BLT Research Center predicts, "The surgical robot market is expected to experience dramatic growth. These technological changes will present new opportunities for companies to develop related technologies." They added, "Securing rights to surgical robot technologies is expected to be a good strategy."


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