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Medical Alley Association serves the individuals and organizations that comprise Minnesota's health industry by influencing policy, fostering connections and providing critical intelligence to improve the quality of health around the world.

Medical Alley Association serves the individuals and organizations that comprise Minnesota's health industry by influencing policy, fostering connections and providing critical intelligence to improve the quality of health around the world.

Earl Bakken Medical Device Center Hosts Medical Alley and German Cluster Leaders in Digital Health & Collaboration Roundtable

Friday, August 4, 2017

This week, the Earl Bakken Medical Devices Center at the University of Minnesota hosted the Transatlantic Cluster Initiative, bringing together industry and academic leaders from Medical Alley and Germany to discuss digitalization of healthcare technology.

This opportunity helped both parties reach key objectives: Germany’s health cluster initiative seeks engagement from global leaders, while the Medical Alley Association works to elevate Minnesota’s health technology region as the global epicenter of health. Led by Senior Vice President, Kathleen Motzenbecker, a roundtable consisting of Dr. Art Erdman, Earl Bakken Medical Device Center’s director; Greg Peterson, University of Minnesota’s Innovation Collaborations Director; Yvonne Glienke, CEO of Medical Mountains AG; and Robert Schwanitz, Cluster Manger of the North Rhine-Westphalian Center for Health, discussed the present and future of digital health in medical technology and the role of innovative collaborations between academic and industry institutions.

The leadership roundtable highlighted the close ties that already exist between the two groups: Minnesota boasts a longstanding trade relationship with Germany – the country ranked 6th in export destination, representing $763 million in total exports during 20161. Peterson recently began an effort to drive industry collaboration with the University’s key leaders, an effort that is clearly succeeding as the collective global leadership discussed digital health innovation in the device center. The meeting also demonstrated the economic value the University of Minnesota provides to Medical Alley’s health technology ecosystem.

The discussion profiled the similarities between the German and U.S. digital health tech marketplaces: Innovation abounds, while the regulatory and reimbursement landscape work to keep pace.  Germany’s cluster initiatives have played an instrumental role in supporting the development and vitality of the country’s health technology ecosystem. Medical Mountains, which represents over 400 medical technology organizations, represents a region whose top three companies generated nearly $4.5 billion in revenue during 2016. In Northwest Germany, North Rhine-Westphalian represents over 500 healthcare organizations whose combined revenue amount to nearly one fifth of Germany’s economy. While the two clusters represent different geographies, they are aligned in helping to create a global marketplace that fosters a rapidly evolving digital health community. Closer to home, Medical Alley Association has positioned itself as an integral part of the burgeoning digital health region, an exciting new development emerging within an already recognized global health technology stalwart. The region has boasted robust recent successes in the digital health landscape: 540 percent growth since 2012 and $104 million in investments through 20162.

The discussion culminated in addressing how digital health technology can work to create a more personalized approach to preventing and treating today’s most prevalent diseases. “[Personalization] is going to happen, but who is going to step up and provide the leadership?” Dr. Erdman questioned. Given the collective roundtable and leadership present for the discussion, it will be no surprise to see Minnesota and Germany rising to that challenge, providing global leadership in this rapidly evolving digital landscape.


1. Bureau USC. Foreign Trade. https://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/statistics/state/data/mn.html. Published 2017.

2. Duffy C. Digital Health: The Promise of Revolution. Minneapolis; 2017.

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