Workshop EuRobotics Forum 2013

Workshop on Technology Transfer and Innovation in Robotic Surgery at the 2013 European Robotic Forum

Tuesday, March 19, 2013, 14:15 – 18:00

Organizers: Paolo Fiorini, Giancarlo Ferrigno, Tamas Haidegger

Robotic surgery is one of the most successful areas in robotics, with a significant public acceptance, exceptional economic results and a worldwide network of excellent research laboratories. Europe is the second largest market in robotic surgery with several hundred robots installed in hospitals, and with more than 50 research laboratories involved in basic and applied research. Furthermore, the European Union has supported over a dozen thematic consortia focusing on robotic surgery over the last two Framework Programs. However, European manufacturers and research laboratories have difficulties in becoming players in this field and in making their experience and results to benefit European health care patients.

This workshop aims at examining the current situation of robotic surgery and at attempting to identify why European research and industrial companies have such a little impact on the surgical applications of robotics. In particular, this workshop will discuss whether there is a clear business opportunity in robotic surgery and, if so, why new players are slow to enter the market. In fact, the numbers seem to indicate that the business case is very strong. The most successful manufacturer of commercial surgical robots for abdominal surgery is Intuitive Surgical (Sunnyvale, CA-USA), whose robot “da Vinci” has now 2,462 installation worldwide, of which 1,789 in the United States, 400 in Europe, and 273 in the Rest of World. The number of robotic procedures is up 25% with respect of 2011, and Intuitive Surgical operating profits are also up 27% with respect to last year. Other companies have shown more modest results (Accuray, ROBODOC, MAKO, Mazor, Hansen, FreeHand Surgical), and only few of them have used in their products technologies developed by European laboratories. Furthermore, the customer base (i.e. the surgical community) is expanding and asking for new devices. This is generating some uneasiness in the community, whose main complaints are:

  • Lack of specific robotic instruments and intervention set-up,
  • Excessive costs of equipment and maintenance,
  • Lack of realistic set-up for experiments and research,
  • Lack of accessible and cost-effective training,
  • Excessive economic burden of National Health Systems.

To discuss this situation and assess whether the slow market acceptance of new companies is physiological or specific to robotic surgery, we are inviting representatives of the Surgical, Research and Industrial communities of Europe to the workshop, and we will ask to illustrate their opinion and suggestions in a 10 minute presentation. A round table summarizing the main points raised will conclude the workshop. Furthermore, we will summarize the workshop findings in a white paper to be distributed to the community and to EU Officers. The workshop is organized within the EuroSurge project, whose goals include examining the non-technical issues affecting the development of robotic surgery.


14.15 – 14.20 Workshop introduction and motivation (Paolo Fiorini)

The robotic research perspective (10 min each speaker)

14.20 – 14.30  Paolo Dario, SSSA

14.30 – 14.40 Engineers, Surgeons and Companies role in tech transfer from EU projects (ROBOCAST and ACTIVE cases). Elena de Momi, POLIMI

14.40 – 14.50 Rainer Konietschke, DLR

14.50 – 15.00  Integration of surgical robotic systems into the operating process, Joerg Raczkowsky,  KIT

15.00 – 15-10 Guillaume Morel, UPMC

15.10 – 15.20 Philippe Poignet, LIRMM

15.20 – 15.30   “Copycats,  paper  tigers  and  serious  competitors  in  telerobotic  surgery”, Tamas Haidegger, Óbuda University

15.30 – 16.00 Coffee Break

The industrial perspective (10 min each speaker)

16.00 – 16.10 The Private/Public Partnershio (PPP) in Robotics Anne Bajart, EU commission

16.10 – 16.20 Industrial opportunities in Surgical robotics. Challenges and barriers, Alicia Casals, Polytech. Barcelona

16.20 – 16.30 Some challenges facing a European SME in medical robotics, Patrick Finlay, MediMaton

16.30 – 16.40  “An alternative approach to surgical robotics”, Clément Vidal, Endocontrol

16.40 – 16.50 Gernot Kronreif, ACMIT

The surgical perspective (15 min each speaker)

16.50 – 17.05  What does the digestive surgeon need and expect from a robot? Alberto Arezzo, University of Torino

17.05 – 17.20 Beat Müller, Universitätsklinikum Heidelberg

17.20 – 17.35 Prokar Dasgupta, King’s College London

17.35 – 18.30 Panel discussion