Starks told an audience at the Minnesota Venture Finance Conference this week that excessive focus on emerging markets fails to appreciate the potential of the medical device industry.
"It shows lack of imagination and a focus on what is, rather than what should be," he said, the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reported.
Emerging markets have played a huge role in many medtech giants’ plans, including St. Jude arch-nemesis Medtronic (NYSE:MDT), whose CEO Starks has publicly blasted before. The 2 Minnesota titans got into a slap-fight in 2011 when Starks accused Medtronic of a “whisper campaign” aimed at discrediting St. Jude’s troubled Durata defibrillator leads.
In comments this week Starks criticized rivals who have focused their strategies on developing cheap technologies, the commoditization of medtech, rather than focusing on innovation. Although Starks didn’t specify any particular company, some have speculated that his criticisms seem well suited for Medtronic and its CEO, Omar Ishrak, who has made it very clear that emerging markets are a prime focus.
International expansion has been part of the hallmark of Ishrak’s reign as the CEO of Medtronic, the world’s largest pure-play medical device maker. Ishrak has previously called emerging markets "the most important ones" to Medtronic, and has said that emerging markets, although sometimes difficult to breach, may be safer bets than investing further in the U.S.