THE HEART OF MEDICAL ALLEY
Minneapolis-St. Paul has long been a leader in life sciences; going back to the late 1950s when risk-taking cardiac surgeons such as C. Walton Lillehei pushed the envelope with pioneering open-heart surgery, and Medtronic founder, Earl Bakken, tinkered with pacemaker technology.
Medtronic may have moved its headquarters to Ireland after its merger with Covidien in January 2015, but it is still operationally run out of the Minneapolis suburb of Fridley. St. Jude Medical, founded by MannyVillafaña in the 1970s, has its headquarters in the metro, and Boston Scientific has a sizable presence. 3M Co. is also a major medical device player and major companies from around the world, including Coloplast and Olympus, have operations in the metro.
When it comes to a sheer number of employees, Minneapolis, and St. Paul are unmatched outside of California. The Twin Cities have arguably the densest concentration of medical device talent of any metro area in the country. The region also fares well when it comes to medical patents and leads in the classes of surgical tools, prosthetics, and bandages, according to Inc.
It also turns out that when it comes to getting premarket approvals for Class III devices from FDA, Minnesota remains the leader and has even grown its lead over California during the Great Recession, according to Evaluate MedTech data relayed by the Medical Alley Association. Patent generation is also strong; the Minneapolis–St. Paul metro area is producing more than 7,000 patents for surgical devices alone since 2000, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
More than two-thirds of last year’s PMAs out of FDA went to applicants out of California and Minnesota, according to the Minnesota-based Medical Alley Association.
Medical device research is robust at the University of Minnesota. One of the most innovative health providers in the nation, Mayo Clinic, is just a 90 minute drive to the south in Rochester, and the nation’s largest health insurer, UnitedHealth Group, is based in Minneapolis suburb of Minnetonka. Both Democratic Farmer Labor (DFL) and Republican politicians are supportive of the industry.
This is why Ancon Medical is located in the Twin Cities.