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Smith & Nephew Acquires Blue Belt Technologies for $275MM


Smith & Nephew (SNN) acquired Blue Belt Technologies for US $275MM. The transaction is expected to close in 2015.

The two were already partnered for use of the Navio® robotic-assisted surgical system with the JOURNEY UNI partial knee and the recently-acquired ZUK uni knee. Expansion of the platform is expected:

  • Total knee application to launch in 2017, supporting the JOURNEY II knee
  • Bi-cruciate retaining system, complementing SNN's development of the JOURNEY II XR
  • Revision knee in the pipeline (an area not presently served by robotics), as well as applications for total hip and sports medicine


Further, SNN's global presence will extend the adoption of robotic-assisted technology outside of the U.S.

SNN expects that Blue Belt's 2015 revenue of ~$19MM will grow by more than 50% in the medium-term.

Perhaps this action will calm speculation that SNN should be itself acquired by another player--chatter described by SNN CEO Olivier Bohuon as disruptive, when what "matters is the ability of a company to bring to the market disruptive products. You don't have to be big to do that."

Source: Smith & Nephew plc


SNN + Blue Belt is the latest in a lineup of M&A and collaborations pairing navigation, surgical assistance and pre-op planning tools with a variety of implants. Earlier in 2015, Exactech purchased BlueOrtho, its partner in the development of the Guided Personalized Surgery system that currently supports EXAC’s knee portfolio. In 2014, Globus Medical acquired Excelsius Surgical, developer of surgical robotic positioning for spine and other applications, while Materialise bought OrthoView, provider of 2D digital orthopaedic pre-op planning/templating software. Stryker's 2013 acquisition of MAKO Surgical recently yielded an FDA clearance for a total knee application, for which full launch is expected in 2017. Robotics and navigation were among hot topics at the latest NASS meeting, too.

Computer assisted systems have not fully penetrated the market, facing obstacles from hospital purchasing committees as well surgeons' desire to keep using the techniques to which they are accustomed. The technology’s future depends upon its ability to enter hospitals and surgery centers, and then prove cost-effectiveness. 

Representatives from Blue Belt joined others from MAZOR, OMNIlife science and OrthAlign to discuss its potential, adoption and what surgeons are asking for in ORTHOPRENEUR®, "New Generation of Smaller, Cheaper Technology Powering Robotics in Orthopaedics."