Sony chases medical imaging market with $644m Olympus investment

Sony chases medical imaging market with $644m Olympus investment

It’s been on the cards for months and Sony has finally concluded a deal that will see it invest $644 million (50 billion yen) into fellow Japanese tech firm Olympus. The duo are forming an as-yet-unnamed business venture focused on medical imaging, while Sony will take an 11 percent share in the camera maker itself.

While the coming-together is primarily focused on the medical industry niche, the partnership will also see the duo pair up on lens and optical technologies.

The announcement [PDF] explains that the two firms will be able to combine their camera-led technologies, bringing Sony’s know-how — notably in digital imaging technology — to Olympus’s hardware. The companies also plan to “explore” the potential to collaborate on core components for digital cameras.

Sony chief Kazuo Hirai had the following to say:

As part of our strategic initiatives announced in April 2012, at Sony we are aggressively pursuing the growth of our medical business.

We believe that [with Olympus]we will be able to create highly innovative and competitive products and generate new business opportunities in surgical endoscopes and other related areas where significant future growth is anticipated.

While the medical business angle does sound a little extreme for Sony, which is well known as a (admittedly flagging) household name, the duo sees a lucrative market to be got at. They estimate the global surgical medical equipment market to be worth $9.6 billion annually by 2020, by which time they envisage owning 20 percent of the market.

This year has been truly transitional from Sony. The Japanese giant decoupled from handset partner Ericsson and has undergone a series of changes, which included the announcement of 10,000 lay-offs in April. Last month the firm revealed a further 1,000 jobs would be lost from the handset division, which is relocating to Japan.

Image via Flickr / Jamiemc

Read next: Chinese rail ministry on the defense as $52m ticketing website is widely reviled