California - based Intuitive Surgical, which produces the da Vinci robotized surgical systems and has a turnover of nearly 6 billion dollars, will build a plant in the Bulgarian town of Parvomay (Plovdiv region). The company will invest 80 million levs (about 40 million euro) in the production of 3D endoscopes. Construction is planned to start in 2023, so that the site can be operational in 2025. The project will allow Intuitive to expand its capacity for this type of products. The region will gain more than 100 new jobs in high-tech production and the number may top 300 in the coming years.
Growing demand, good environment
The U.S. company has several factories, including in Germany, where 3D endoscopes for da Vinci are currently manufactured. The decision for the new investment is prompted by strong and growing global demand for minimally invasive surgical technologies, Intuitive told the Capital Weekly. "Our expansion in Bulgaria provides us with access to a strong and vibrant talent pool, quality infrastructure, and proximity to existing manufacturing operations," the company said. The majority of the employees will be technicians and specialized engineers.
Intuitive did not specify if it plans partnerships with local companies. However, there are several local producers that are active in the field. One is Schoelly - Optix, a joint venture between Germany's Schoelly Fiberoptic and Bulgaria's Optix, which is known to manufacture da Vinci endoscopes. Similar products are also made by Bulgarian-German Micro View Endoscopy Optic, as well as by Micro Optics Europe, which is sole propriety of Canada's American Optics Ltd.
Intuitive has not yet purchased a plot for the plant but it already has a local subsidiary, Intuitive Surgical Bulgaria. It was registered in early February 2022 with a 200,000 levs capital. A month ago the capital was increased to 2.7 million levs. The direct owner is Switzerland-registered Intuitive Surgical Sarl.
Intuitive Surgical was founded in 1995 and is today a global technology leader in minimally invasive care and the pioneer of robotic-assisted surgery. The most popular product of the company is the da Vinci surgical system, the first version of which was launched in 1999. So far more than 6,700 such systems have been installed in more than 60 countries and over 10 million procedures have been performed. The production facilities are based in Sunnyvale (California), where the headquarters are located, Durham (North Carolina), Mexicali (Mexico) and at multiple sites in Germany. Intuitive has more than 9,700 employees worldwide, including some 1,000 in Europe.
According to preliminary data, the company's turnover amounted to 5.7 billion dollars in 2021, up 31% year on year. The 2020 results were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which brought about a reduction in surgical procedures and equipment deliveries. Nevertheless, Intuitive booked an increase on 2019 too, though a smaller one (13%). About two-thirds of the sales are in the United States."