Extending & Evolving Greatbatch’s Culture of Continuous Innovation

Christopher F. Knospe

Christopher F. Knospe
Director of Global Communications and Government Relations

Since its founding in 1970 by Wilson Greatbatch, co-inventor of the world’s first implantable cardiac pacemaker, Greatbatch has been a leader in supplying discrete proprietary technologies for the medical device, portable medical, energy, military, and environmental industries. Greatbatch is an organization built on disruptive innovation. This approach has carried Greatbatch through customer vertical integration in the early 2000s and recession from 2007—2009 and continues to enable the company to be a pioneer in medical device innovation. 

After joining Greatbatch in 2004 as the company’s chief operating officer, Thomas J. Hook, president and chief executive officer, has been a strong champion of extending and evolving Greatbatch’s culture of continuous innovation. In 2008, he made the calculated decision to form a new subsidiary, QiG Group, which launched the company’s strategic evolution by partnering with subject matter experts and key opinion leaders to design and develop differentiated complete medical device systems. By leveraging Greatbatch’s intellectual property portfolio and manufacturing excellence, QiG Group developed its own complete active implantable medical device system from concept through final regulatory submission. 

Continuing the pattern of disruptive innovation, in 2015, Greatbatch annoucned its plan to spin-off QiG Group as Nuvectra (pending final approval of the Board of Directors among other conditions). Nuvectra will be a neuromodulation-focused medical device company initially concentrating on commercializing the Algovita Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS) System to treat chronic intractable pain of the trunk and/or limbs. The Algovita system incorporates an extensive array of Greatbatch intellectual property, advance technology, and innovative programming features. The system has received a CE mark from the EU and has been submitted for Pre-market Approval with the FDA.

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Once Greatbatch’s acquisition of Lake Region Medical is complete, the combined company will have global revenues of approximately $1.5 billion.

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Greatbatch is a pioneer in medical device innovation with multiple proprietary technologies.

“Over the past nine years, Greatbatch has undertaken a strategic evolution from strictly developing components and subassemblies to also developing complete active implantable medical device systems for our customers,” said Mr. Hook. “Spinning-off Nuvectra would provide both entities the focus and flexibility needed to execute their growth initiatives, their strategic imperatives and provide their respective customers with unparalleled service. The end result would further advance the global medical device market and enhance shareholder value.” This decision will allow Greatbatch to better allocate resources to meet the needs of its respective business entities and to continue to focus on expanding its core business, while providing complete medical device systems for its customers. 

Part of Greatbatch’s disruptive innovation approach has also involved diversification and profitable growth through acquisition; Mr. Hook spearheaded seven acquisitions during 2007 and 2008. This strategy continues today with the acquisition of Lake Region Medical. Greatbatch signed a definitive agreement in 2015 to acquire Lake Region Medical for $1.73 billion. Once the transaction has been completed, the combined company will employ over 9,000 individuals globally with revenues of approximately $1.5 billion. This acquisition is a transformative deal that will create one of the world’s largest medical device OEM suppliers and provide a substantially more comprehensive portfolio for Greatbatch’s customers, utilizing the best technologies, providing a single point of support, and driving optimal outcomes. The acquisition creates a company with operations in the US, Latin America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific and diversifies Greatbatch into the advanced surgical, vascular, and interventional cardiology segments of medical technology. Mr. Hook said, “The combination of Greatbatch and Lake Region Medical brings together two highly complementary organizations that can provide a new level of industry leading capabilities and services to OEM customers while building value for shareholders. Through this transformative deal, we are going to be at the forefront of innovating technologies and products that help change the face of healthcare, providing our customers with a distinct advantage as they bring complete systems and solutions to market. In turn, our customers will be able to accelerate patient access to life enhancing therapies.” 

Through its culture of progressive innovation, Greatbatch continues the legacy of Wilson Greatbatch in Western New York, advancing as a global innovator with an immense impact on the well-being of millions worldwide. 

About the Author

Christopher F. Knospe is the director of global communications and government relations for Greatbatch, Inc. Prior to joining Greatbatch, Chris served as executive director for the Erie County Republican Committee, regional director for the NYS Senate Majority Conference, and has held positions with the US House of Representatives. Chris is a 2011 Buffalo Business First 40 Under 40 honoree.

He currently serves on and is the past chairperson of the Government and Public Affairs Committee for MedTech and sits on the Board of Directors for Leadership Buffalo and the National Federation for Just Communities of Western New York. He is a past president of the St. Mary’s High School board of trustees, and has served on the board of the Amherst, NY Chamber of Commerce and the transition team for then County Executive-Elect, Chris Collins. 

About Greatbatch, Inc. 

Headquarters: Frisco, TX 

Greatbatch, Inc. provides top-quality technologies to industries that depend on reliable, long-lasting performance through its brands Greatbatch Medical, Electrochem and QiG Group. The company develops and manufactures critical medical device technologies for the cardiac, neuromodulation, vascular, and orthopedic markets, and batteries for high-end niche applications in the portable medical, energy, military, and environmental markets.

NYS Employees: 750

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The Algovita Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS) System is used to treat chronic intractable pain of the trunk and/or limbs.

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