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14 December, 2015 - 13:27 By Tony Quested

Cambridge startup to revolutionise surgical robotics

Cambridge Medical Robotics CMR Versius

A young Cambridge company is making rapid progress developing technology that it believes will transform the existing market for surgical robotics, having just demonstrated a full engineering prototype of the world’s first truly universal surgical robotic system. 

The next-generation system is versatile and low cost, promising to disrupt the robotic minimal access surgery market and overcome the technical limitations that have proven a barrier for the adoption of robotic keyhole surgery to date.

Headed up by former Sagentia CEO Martin Frost, Cambridge Medical Robotics is based in Crome Lea Business Park and recently expanded its Cambridge headquarters to occupy 7,200 sq ft.

CMR is already up to 35 headcount and has more than 40 patent applications in the pipeline: the first of which it expects to be granted before the end of this year. The company received its ISO13485:2003 Quality Management System accreditation in October, just 21 months after incorporation.

Cambridge Medical Robotics is targeting a market that could grow from $3.2 billion to $20bn within six years. While approximately six million minimal access surgery (‘keyhole’) procedures are performed each year, only 10 per cent of these are robot-assisted and typically confined to gynaecological and urological procedures due to the physical and technical limitations of existing surgical robotic systems.

With its highly versatile universal surgical robotic platform, CMR expects that its system would be able to perform all minimal access surgical procedures, significantly expanding the addressable market and delivering its vision of making minimal access surgery universally accessible and affordable.

This dynamic, together with the underlying growth of minimal access surgery itself, has the potential to expand the addressable market for CMR’s system to as many as 10 million procedures over the next five years.

Frost said: “We are addressing a surgical robotics market dominated by Intuitive Surgical – the major US medical devices company – and one that has now been validated by Google and Johnson & Johnson who announced a few months ago that they were collaborating to enter this market to an unspecified timescale.”

CMR’s versatile and low cost surgical robotic platform boasts a fully manoeuvrable wristed system, 5mm surgical tools (vs. 8mm robot standard) and small form factor.

It meets all the needs of the surgeon and makes the benefits of robotic minimal access surgery universally accessible at a price that is substantially lower than competing technologies, Frost says. 
These features have the potential to increase, by a factor of 15, the number of surgical procedures that can be efficiently performed using minimal access robotic surgery.

CMR believes it will be first to market with the world’s only truly universal surgical robotic system. The CMR robotic arm and end-of-arm surgical instruments provide significantly enhanced flexibility, mimicking the dexterity of the surgeon’s hands.

It incorporates many groundbreaking technologies, such as force feedback, that provide life-like sensitivity and usability.

The pioneering startup is one of the most exciting medical technology businesses to have emerged in Cambridge in some years and, as such, is in the running for three Business Weekly Awards embracing the engineering excellence at the heart of the product, the life science innovation element of its invention, and the international potential of the business.

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