RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – MED-EL Medical Electronics, a hearing-technology company with U.S. headquarters in Durham, was recently named “Innovator of the Year” by the online publication Hearing Health & Technology Matters.

MED-EL is based in Austria and has had a strong presence Durham for 20 years. It has the widest range of implantable and non-implantable hearing solutions, allowing for enhanced communication for those suffering from hearing loss. In the HHTM Innovator Awards competition this year, the company placed in every category in which it was entered.

Its SYNCHRONY Cochlear Implant (CI) System won first place in the auditory implant category. This hearing system is meant for those with inner ear damage who cannot detect sounds correctly. The spiral-shaped implant bypasses the damage and communicates directly with the brain through electronic signals. It revolutionized the traditional CI design and is the first CI system that can be used safely in a magnetic resonance imaging machine. It is also the first U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved implant system for single-sided deafness, filling a substantial unmet need in the hearing-loss community.

MED-EL’s BONEBRIDGE Bone Conduction Implant won third place in the same category.  This invention advanced bone conduction technology as the first under-the-skin bone conduction implant. It was created for those suffering from mixed hearing loss, single-sided sensorineural deafness and conductive hearing loss, where sound cannot travel from the outer to middle ear. With BONERIDGE, sound reaches the inner ear through the skull, making it the first available system to offer intact skin, comfort and direct bone stimulation.

The AudioKey phone application won second place in the assistive technology and software category. This app syncs with MED-EL’s implants in place of a remote. It allows users to change volume, switch programs and configure connectivity of the audio processor easily and conveniently. It also has the ability to locate a lost audio processor.  For parents who previously struggled with multiple children using cochlear implants, this is the first app that allows caretakers to control multiple devices on the same phone.

MED-EL’s innovation has changed the standard of cochlear implant care, providing those who suffer from hearing loss with a greater quality of life. The company now has 100 employees in Durham and almost 2,000 worldwide, serving people in 121 countries. The company’s distinction further reinforces North Carolina as a medical technology center.

“While we are driven by research and development, MED-EL is so much more than a single implant, processor or technology,” says Raymond Gamble, president and CEO of MED-EL North America. “We are hundreds of thousands of lives that have been changed as a result of the pursuit of ideas that were once thought to be impossible.”

(C) N.C. Biotech Center