Will Google become a medical technology competitor? Medtronic CEO weighs in

In 2014, Stephen Oesterle, MD, senior vice president for medicine and technology at Medtronic, said Google was poised to be the medical device company's biggest rival in 20 years.

"We spend $1.5 billion a year on R&D at Medtronic — and it's mostly D," he said at a conference, according to Mass Device. "Google is spending $8 billion a year on R&D and, as far as I can tell, it's mostly R."

But Medtronic CEO and Chairman Omar Ishrak told Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal that Google is less of a competitor and more of a comrade.

Verily, Google's newly rebranded healthcare and life sciences research division, is reported to be developing a smart contact lens and other ways to leverage technology to improve human health. According to the report, Verily has filed a patent on a laser ablation device.

But being in consumer technology doesn't make Verily direct competition, Mr. Ishrak said.

"They bring a different capability compared to what we bring, whether that will create a competitor or partner is tough to say, and it could be both," he said in the report. "Healthcare is a very big space, with efforts all the way from prevention to acute care to clinical trial development to consumer-level awareness. In that broad space, there's plenty of room for everybody, whether one is a competitor or not is very difficult to say."

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