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Posted: November 15, 2013

2013 Top Company winner: Sophono

Innovating to tackle hearing health issues

Gigi Sukin

MANUFACTURING

SOPHONO INC.

Approximately 12 percent of the U.S. population, or 38 million Americans, have significant hearing loss, according to the Center for Hearing and Communication. With more than 2,300 devices implanted since 2009, Boulder-based Sophono Inc. has set out to tackle the problem. The medical device manufacturer specializes in implantable, bone conduction hearing devices for individuals suffering from severe to profound hearing loss or impairment.

“Our technology is really different,” said Dr. Peter Ruppersberg, who was appointed chief executive Sept. 4.

The company’s flagship product, the Sophono Alpha 2 System, is the only hearing device available to treat individuals with conductive hearing loss, mixed hearing loss and single-ear deafness. Unlike other medical technology on the market, it eliminates the problematic abutment of devices by using magnets to affix external sound processors. Other devices have metal screws protruding from the scalp.

Ruppersberg explained that after several experiences with tech company management, he took on the challenge of bringing Sophono “to the next level.” He emphasized the flexibility and versatility of his largely dispersed team. While the highest concentration of employees is housed in the Boulder office, the rest of the company stretches across a worldwide network.

He concedes that one of the biggest challenges is remaining cost-effective in order achieve growth. “The more versatile our people are, the more they can understand the multi-facets of this company and wear more than one hat.”

iData projects that the U.S. market for bone anchored hearing devices will reach $712 million, a 31 percent increase annually, by 2018. The independent research firm also calls the implantable bone conduction market the “fastest growing of any hearing device segment.”

Within the last two years, Sophono has grown its distribution in four countries to 26. “We believe implantable hearing aids can allow us to better meet the needs of today’s health-care system,” Ruppersberg said.

Gigi Sukin is an Associate Editor at ColoradoBiz. She can be reached at gsukin@cobizmag.com.

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