A Lifetime of Contributions: Medtronic Founder Earl Bakken

The Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed)  bestowed the second annual AdvaMed Lifetime Achievement Award to Medtronic co-founder Earl Elmer Bakken, creator of the first wearable, battery-operated external pacemaker.

AdvaMed’s Lifetime Achievement Award highlights the accomplishments of a pioneer in the medical technology sector whose contributions have had a significant impact on patients’ lives and the industry as an essential part of America’s economy. This year’s award recognizes Bakken’s achievements and unparalleled leadership in medical innovation, patient care and philanthropy.

“Earl’s generous nature and steadfast commitment to improving the lives of people with chronic disease are reflected throughout his career,” said Stephen J. Ubl, president and CEO of AdvaMed. “As the co-founder of Medtronic and developer of an innovative medical device that not only launched an industry, but that has saved millions of lives and changed the face of modern medicine, Earl’s vision and leadership are unmatched. I cannot think of a person more deserving of this honor than Medtronic co-founder Earl Bakken.”

Bakken co-founded Medtronic in 1949 in a 600-square-foot garage in northeast Minneapolis to service medical electronic equipment used in hospitals. In 1957 he developed the first wearable, external cardiac pacemaker, and in 1960 manufactured the first reliable, long-term implantable pacing system. He served as Medtronic’s chief executive officer and chairman from the company’s incorporation in 1957 until 1976. He was senior chairman of the board through 1989 and retired from the board in 1994. Over the course of his career, he has authored several professional papers and delivered numerous speeches to medical, technical, educational and business groups throughout the world.

Today, Medtronic is one of the world’s leading medical device companies with technologies and devices for more than 40 medical conditions and serving 140 countries, providing 46,000 jobs worldwide.

“I am truly humbled and honored to be recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award from AdvaMed,” said Bakken. “It has always been my belief that the smallest ideas, influences or dreams can have a huge impact, and with this award I hope I can inspire future generations of medtech leaders to continue to find solutions to the world’s leading health care challenges.”

Earl is also well-known for his philanthropic and educational work. In 1975 he founded The Bakken, a nonprofit library, museum and education center devoted to the history of electricity and magnetism and their uses in medicine and the life sciences. The Bakken’s collection of rare books and antique instruments and devices has grown to be the finest of its kind in the world. Since his retirement, Earl has also been actively engaged with many groups in Northwest Hawaii that support the health and well-being of its 30,000 people.

The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented during AdvaMed 2014: The MedTech Conference at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois. The annual conference brings together more than 1,000 companies in a uniquely multifaceted environment for business development, capital formation, innovative technology showcasing, world-class educational opportunities and networking.

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AdvaMed member companies produce the medical devices, diagnostic products and health information systems that are transforming health care through earlier disease detection, less invasive procedures and more effective treatments. AdvaMed members range from the largest to the smallest medical technology innovators and companies. For more information, visit www.advamed.org.

Posted in AZBio News.