St. Paul, Minn.-based Ecolab Inc. announces that it is opening the Ecolab Healthcare Advanced Design Center, a 22,000-square-foot design center in nearby Eagan, Minn. Company officials say the new facility will enable Ecolab to partner with medical device industry customers on infection prevention solutions for their surgical equipment and develop new technologies for hospitals and surgery centers.

“The surgical equipment industry is projected to grow rapidly over the next five years driven by the demand for more consistent and precise procedures that improve the quality of life and shorten recovery times for patients,” says Beth Simermeyer, president, Ecolab Healthcare and Life Sciences. “By investing in developing custom sterile barrier solutions for this growing industry, we will help our customers innovate faster and help protect patients from infection.”

Surgery centers have changed dramatically over the past 20 years to include advanced surgical robotic and diagnostic imaging equipment, Ecolab officials say. Moreover, robotic-assisted surgeries are increasingly common and are associated with positive patient outcomes such as shorter recovery times and reduced instances of infection due to the precision and consistency of the procedures.

Sterile barriers, such as custom drapes, help improve patient safety and protect surgical equipment from damage, Ecolab officials add. As surgical robots and diagnostic equipment become more advanced, sterile barriers have become more sophisticated and intricate. Surgical drapes now need to be flexible enough to accommodate complex and precise movements, with enough visibility and ventilation to ensure the exactness and integrity of the robotic technology.

By partnering earlier in the product development cycle, medical device manufactures will know they have the needed partnership to bring new technologies to market faster. With a dedicated machine shop, design spaces and a cleanroom, Ecolab’s Advanced Design Center can bring new product design all the way through to pilot manufacturing.

Customers can come together with Ecolab researchers and engineers to design, develop, test, and produce customized equipment drapes. This collaboration will happen in real-time onsite or remotely using augmented reality solutions like Microsoft HoloLens 2.0 and Microsoft Surface Hub.

“The horizon for surgical innovation is vast and accelerating,” says Gergely Sved, senior vice president and general manager for Global Healthcare. “With the Advanced Design Center, Ecolab is looking forward to expanding our customer partnerships and further elevating the co-creation of solutions that serve clinicians and their patients.”