The Twin Cities have long been a leader in life sciences, going back to the days in the late 1950s when Medtronic founder Earl Bakken tinkered with pacemaker technology. Medtronic may have moved its headquarters to Ireland after its merger with Covidien in January, but it is still operationally run out of the Minneapolis suburb of Fridley. St. Jude Medical has its headquarters in the metro, and Boston Scientific has a sizable presence. 3M Co. is also a major medical device player.
When it comes to 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 EvaluateMedTech data relayed by LifeScience Alley. Patent generation is also strong, with the Minneapolis–St. Paul metro area producing more than 7000 patents for surgical devices alone since 2000, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Medical device research is robust at the University of Minnesota. One of the most innovative health providers in the nation, Mayo Clinic, is just an hour and a half 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.
Venture capital supports an ecosystem of companies in various stages, but the major question going forward is whether the Twin Cities is too reliant on legacy technologies versus innovation.
- No. of Medical Device Employees: 27,718
- Medtech VC Investing (2014, for MN): $245.6M
- Annual operating cost with facility construction: $9.2M
- NIH Funding (FY 2014, MN): $505M