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‘Rich kid’ Medtronic goes on acquisition tear (Weekend Rounds)

When you’re the richest kid on the block, it’s easy to make friends. For Medtronic Inc., those friends happen to be investment bankers and venture capitalists. The world’s largest medical device maker, based in Fridley, Minnesota, has been on an acquisition tear of late, using its considerable cash hoard to buy nine companies since 2009.

Here were some of the top stories at MedCity News this week:

When you’re the richest kid on the block, it’s easy to make friends. For Medtronic Inc., those friends happen to be investment bankers and venture capitalists. The world’s largest medical device maker, based in Fridley, Minnesota, has been on an acquisition tear of late, using its considerable cash hoard to buy nine companies since 2009.

— St. Jude Medical Inc. has made good on its plans to open a plant to make heart valves in the El Coyol Free Zone in Alajuela, Costa Rica. The ittle Canada, Minnesota, medical device company plans to invest an estimated $670 million in Costa Rica and employ up to 2,000 of its people over the next five years, according to the Tico Times.

— Don’t accuse the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron of lacking ambition. The institute plans to bring 2,400 jobs and 60 biomedical companies to Akron within 10 years. It’s likely Brian Davis will be a big reason why the institute reaches its goals. A native of South Africa, Davis started in April as director of its Medical Device Development Center, which aims to help entrepreneurs and clinicians design and develop their medical device ideas.

— An FDA panel’s decision to reject the obesity drug lorcaserin shouldn’t affect Athersys Inc.’s development of a similar drug, Gil Van Bokkelen, the Cleveland-based company’s chief executive said. Athersys is developing an anti-obesity drug that focuses on the same receptor as Arena Pharmaceuticals’ lorcaserin, which was rejected by a U.S. Food and Drug Administration panel due to concerns the drug didn’t work well and had potential safety problems.

— The open source movement already has produced innovations like online encyclopedia Wikipedia and the Linux operating system. By creating a free or “open” platform that allows people to share and analyze information, the system can tap the collective intelligence of the world to improve technology and solve global problems. In other words, 6 billion brains are better than one. Some healthcare advocates want to apply the open concept to medicine.