Company name: Sophono Inc.
Industry: medical devices.
Location: Boulder, Colorado.
Solution/product: The Alpha 1 is a U.S. Food and Drug Administration-cleared hearing device for patients with conductive hearing loss, mixed hearing loss and single-ear deafness. Two models of the device are available: the Alpha 1 (S), which is an external sound processor, and the Alpha 1 (M), an implantable device that connects to an external processor with magnets. The bone-anchored hearing device transmits sound to the inner ears directly through the bone.
A second-generation model of the device, Alpha 2, debuted at the American Academy of Otolaryngology Annual Meeting & Expo this week. Improvements to the new model include a tamper-proof battery door, direct audio input for FM systems, music players and mobile phones, and a feature intended to reduce background noise, the company said.
Money raised: A $7 million series B.
How it will be used: With the financing, the company will increase its global sales force, continue to develop existing products, introduce new products and expand manufacturing facilities, President and CEO Jim Kasic said in a statement.
Investors: The round was led by Wexford Capital LP. Previous funding has come from the Colorado Institute for Drug, Device and Diagnostic Development.
Management team: CEO Kasic is also the founder of consulting firm Boulder BioMed Inc. and obesity treatment company 7L LLC. His previous experience includes stints with W.L. Gore and Associates, Boston Scientific, Battelle Memorial Institute and Otologics. Sophono was formed in 2009 using technology developed in Germany.
Market opportunity: More than 43 million Americans have some form of hearing loss. While adoption of hearing aids is increasing, still only about 40 percent of people with moderate-to-severe hearing loss use amplification devices, according to data from the Better Hearing Institute (PDF). Research and Markets forecasts that the market for these devices, led by GN Resound, Oticon, Phonak, Siemens and Starkey, will exceed $7 billion by 2016.
The two other bone-anchored hearing devices on the market, Cochlear Corp’s Baha and Oticon Medical’s Ponto, have pieces that connect through the skin of the scalp. Sophono connects its external sound processor to the implant using magnets, so nothing protrudes from the scalp. (A thorough look at the differences in these products can be found here.)
[Photo of Alpha 2 from Sophono]
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