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

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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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