New lab to boost Paragon designs

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Pierceton-based Paragon Medical Inc. announced plans Tuesday to add a bio-skills lab to its Orthopaedic Instrument Global Design Center.

At least initially, the lab will cost less than $2 million, and Paragon managers will wait until it’s fully operational before deciding how many jobs to add. But Paragon CEO Toby Buck said if market conditions warrant, Paragon will construct a separate building for the global design center in the second half of 2010.

Paragon employs 900 worldwide, according to its Web site, and employed 495 in Pierceton as of April. The company makes implantable components such as screws, plates and rods. It also makes surgical instruments, cases and trays used in orthopedic procedures.

The bio-skills lab will add to Paragon’s ability to work with customers to develop surgical instruments on-site by allowing surgeons to try out the instruments on cadavers and evaluate the results.

Buck is on the board of directors of OrthoWorx, a group formed in September with the goal of ensuring that Kosciusko County stays the orthopedic capital of the world. Companies based in the county generate more than a third of all revenue from the international orthopedic-device industry.

Paragon is a privately held company and doesn’t publicly disclose revenue.

Paragon’s bio-skills lab was in the works before OrthoWorx was created but fits perfectly with the group’s mission, Buck said.

Bringing designers, surgeons and production workers under the same roof by definition keeps the industry local – and it gives it a competitive edge, Buck said.

“It should compress the time it takes to develop new instrument families and new procedures,” Buck said. “And it should minimize the heartburn.”

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