17 mei 2016 | Source: De Tijd
Two US-based multinationals – Intuitive Surgical and Medtronic – will be backing the expansion of a research center for robotic surgery in Melle, Flanders. Find out how this EUR 15 million investment will make Flanders a global reference in this field.

Pioneering in robot-assisted surgery
In Melle, near Ghent, the robotic surgery education and research center will become “a melting pot of research and start-ups,” says frontrunner in robotic surgery Alex Mottrie, the man behind the initiative. As a urologist, Mottrie has performed hundreds of robot-assisted surgeries using a camera, console, joystick, pedals and three movement-mimicking robot arms for reimplanting the ureter into the bladder, removing tumors of the kidney or prostate, and so on. “Robot-assisted surgery is not only more precise, but also less invasive, resulting in a faster recovery for the patient,” he adds. 

Global academy for innovative medicine 
To share his expertise, Mottrie established the Flanders-based ORSI training center for robotic surgery, where surgeons from all over the world learn to master the technique. “We’re pretty much bursting at the seams,” Mottrie comments. “That’s why we’ll be pouring about EUR 15 million into an expansion project, with the end goal of becoming a global academy for innovative medicine.” The project is financed by the Government of Flanders, the EU, the academic world and technology multinationals such as Intuitive Surgical and Medtronic, both headquartered in the US. 

High-potential innovation
“As multinational enterprises set up their European hubs at our premises, innovative Flanders-based start-ups will follow,” Mottrie concludes. “The result is a breeding ground for high-potential innovation. When it comes to robotic surgery, we’re only just getting started.” Currently, robot-assisted surgeries account for 0.5% of all surgical procedures. Their popularity is growing, especially in gynecology and urology, as surgeons need to operate on hard-to-reach places.