Ambitious plans for expansion by Medtronic, the world’s leading manufacturer of electronic heart devices, have been unveiled by the company’s chief executive, Art Collins in briefings held on both sides of the Atlantic.

At the weekend, the company revealed that it was sitting on a cash mountain of $6 billion in cash, holds more than $300 million of minority stakes in 60 businesses and will be looking to make further acquisitions and to expand sales efforts in China, Russia, Japan and Brazil.

Speaking at Medtronic’s Swiss manufacturing plant, in Tolochenaz, Mr Collins said that annual revenues topped $11.3 billion last fiscal year, of which one-third were generated outside the USA.

“We are continuing to look at ways to expand our franchise. Two-thirds of our revenues are from products which were introduced in the last two years – the rate of technology [development] is that rapid ” he said.

The Medtronic ‘CareLink’ Network which enables clinicians to remotely monitor patients implanted with medical devices via the internet, is starting to be rolled out in Europe and is already well established in the USA.

A major growth area will be combining traditional pharmaceuticals with medical devices, or using Medtronic devices to deliver new pharmaceutical compounds to targeted sites in the body, said Mr Collins.

“A broad range of biotechnology compounds are coming forward that increasingly will need to be delivered to very specific sites in the body. This includes neurological compounds that will be delivered by many of our devices,” he said.

Other pipeline developments include expanded use of directly delivered growth factors to sites where new bone is needed (such as fractures) absorbable stents, new coating compounds for medical devices, and novel polymers to coat stents, or stents in which innovative drug/metal combinations are employed.

“The drug-device combination is clearly here to stay, and there will be significant developments, as there will in the area of combining therapies with sensors,” said Michael Demane, senior vice president and Medtronic’s president of Europe, Canada, Latin America and Emerging Markets at Medtronic. By Ian Mason