MED-EL Medical Electronics headquartered in Innsbruck is a leading provider of hearing implants worldwide. The family-owned business founded by DI Dr. Ingeborg and Prof. Erwin Hochmair is one of the pioneers of the industry. The world’s first micro-electronic multi-channel cochlear implant developed by the two scientists was first implanted in a patient as early as 1977. Today, MED-EL offers the widest range of implantable solutions to treat the various causes and degrees of hearing loss. MED-EL’s main objective is to overcome hearing loss as a barrier to communication, opening up a world of sound to people around the world. Consistently high levels of investment in research and development fuel the pipeline of innovative hearing implant solutions ensuring the company’s dynamic future.
The company's history: A vision comes true
The foundation for MED-EL was laid in the 1970s at the Vienna University of Technology, where scientists DI Dr. Ingeborg and Prof. Dr. Erwin Hochmair were researching the basic prerequisites for stimulating nerve fibres with electrical signals and sound processing technologies. On December 16, 1977 the world’s first micro-electronic multi-channel cochlear implant developed by the two scientists was implanted in a patient by surgeon Prof. Kurt Burian. This success encouraged the two scientists to continue development work on their cochlear implant. Ultimately, the early developmental success prompted them to found MED-EL. The first employees were hired in March 1990. Thus, the founders’ vision to develop products able to overcome hearing loss as a barrier to communication and quality of life became a reality.
Research & Development: Safeguarding the future with innovations
Since its founding, MED-EL has continuously invested in research and development; over 15 percent of the company’s revenues are reinvested in this area. New standards, innovations, and industry “firsts” demonstrate the company’s consistent commitment. Some of the most exciting innovations include EAS technology (Electric Acoustic Stimulation), which can significantly improve the quality of life for people with partial deafness, the thinnest cochlear implant available on the market, the most sophisticated sound coding technologies (Fine Hearing™) which provide the fine details of sound and, last but not least, the soft, flexible electrode arrays designed for deep insertion into the cochlea with maximum protection of the delicate structures of the inner ear. Research activity at MED-EL is driven by the development of new hearing implant technologies, the constant improvements made in cooperation with medical scientists and researchers, as well as breakthroughs in the field of neurostimulation. The key to success is close and interdisciplinary collaboration between highly qualified researchers and developers (in the area of engineering, software, physics, chemistry, medicine etc.) which provides the basis for the development of innovations aimed at safeguarding and further expanding MED-EL’s leading position. Furthermore, MED-EL participates in numerous EU research programmes and collaborates with the Christian Doppler Laboratory at the University of Innsbruck. The company also fosters applied research activities via international and national cooperation projects with, for instance, the three Tyrolean universities.
Technology leader: Set on a growth path
The fast-growing medical technology company with 31 branches in more than 100 countries employs more than 1800 people worldwide, approximately 1200 of whom are based at the company’s headquarters in Innsbruck, where R&D and production are located. Ninety-six percent of the hearing implants are exported and purchased by roughly 2800 clinics worldwide. MED-EL is an owner-managed private company.
The world of sound: Wide range of hearing implant systems
MED-EL currently offers the widest range of hearing implant systems in the world. Every day people around the world are given the gift of hearing with the help of a product from MED-EL. The company’s solutions are distinguished by performance, ease of use and reliability. Our product systems meet the special needs of individuals affected by various types of hearing loss: The SYNCHRONY Cochlear Implant System for severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss, the SYNCHRONY EAS Hearing Implant System for individuals with partial deafness, the VIBRANT SOUNDBRIDGE™ Middle Ear Implant System for sensorineural, conductive and mixed hearing losses and the BONEBRIDGE, the first active bone conduction implant system for individuals who suffer from conductive hearing loss, mixed hearing loss or single-sided deafness. MED-EL’s product portfolio also includes auditory brainstem implants (ABI) and ADHEAR, a comfortable and discreet, non-surgical bone conduction solution for conductive hearing loss.
Higher quality of life: Solutions by MED-EL
MED-EL hearing implant solutions help individuals to overcome hearing loss as a barrier to communication and offer users a new quality of life. Understanding conversations in noisy environments, listening to music and speaking on the telephone are all possible with a MED-EL hearing implant. There is still a great need for hearing implants worldwide: Currently, fewer than 10 percent of people who have a severe hearing loss receive a hearing implant. In Central Europe, roughly 25 cochlear implants are inserted per one million inhabitants per year; in other regions this number is only five or even fewer. The implantation of a hearing implant system as early as possible is of crucial importance especially for children, as children can learn to speak and understand a language only if they hear properly. Also, there is a strong link between an individual’s subsequent school and professional career and their capacity to hear well. The same applies to an individual’s emotional and social maturity. When developing products, users’ needs and wishes take centre stage at MED-EL.