, a Strip District developer of handheld robotic tools that are improving outcomes for bone surgery patients, is preparing for major growth.
As a company, BlueBelt straddles two cities. The corporate headquarters is in Minneapolis, where manufacturing takes place; the research and development is done in the Strip District. The company employs 65 and expects to hire another 20 this year.
The first product was launched commercially in 2013, the Navio, a handheld robotic tool that gives surgeons greater flexibility in performing partial knee replacement surgeries. Not only does the tool reduce the size of the incision, but it’s so precise that doctors are successful using using it in outpatient facilities, allowing patients to go home the same day, says Eric Timko, CEO.
A Carnegie Mellon spinout, BlueBelt was founded in 2003 by co-founders Dr. Anthony DiGioia, Dr. Branislav Jaramaz, and Craig Markovitz, pioneers in computer-assisted orthopedic surgery. Markovitz was recently rehired as company general manager.
Unlike freestanding robotic tools, the Navio is a handheld tool that eliminates the need for multiple instruments during surgery, makes more precise incisions and reduces overall surgery time and the risk to patients, says Timko.
“We are the happy medium doctors have been looking for,” he adds. “They (doctors) all want the accuracy and consistency of robotics, but they don’t want to be replaced. The surgeon drives the robot, the robot doesn’t drive the surgeon.”
The Stride, a knee implant, was launched in the fall of 2013. “It takes the anatomy of the patient into consideration,” Timko says. “It’s designed to fit better and comes in extended sizes that make it a better opportunity for the patient.”
Both devices are currently being used in hospitals across the country and locally at Magee Women’s Hospital of UPMC.
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Eric Timko, BlueBelt Technologies