Cochlear implants have become synonymous with Australia’s innovation history. Inventor and surgeon Professor Graeme Clark put the first implant into patient Rod Saunders in 1978. Since then, Cochlear – the company that commercialised the cochlear implant – has been developing hearing products that improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of children and adults worldwide.
Today, Cochlear maintains its market competitiveness with aggressive R&D, research arrangements with 100 universities, and a strong leadership team. CRC partners have also helped maintain Cochlear’s position as world leader in implantable technology. For example, the Contour Advance Electrode array is now fitted to more cochlear implant patients worldwide than any other electrode design in the history of the field.
In return, the CRCs have gained access to a world-leading industry partner, and have helped contribute a value to Cochlear of approximately $120 million.
In April 2013, the CRC and Cochlear relationship entered a new era: the Australian Hearing Hub (AHH) at Macquarie University officially opened with an inaugural symposium managed by the HEARing CRC. The AHH
will provide the CRC with a Sydney base, as well as access to new facilities, including the world’s only magnetoencephalographic imager (MEG) that can be used with cochlear implant users to explore hearing centres in the brain, and how they adapt to cochlear implant hearing sensations. They have also developed a new 3D, real-world acoustic test environment.
“The potential impact for hearing health from this innovation worldwide is enormous.”
“This is a sensational example of what can be done through partnership,” says Associate Professor Jim Patrick, Chief Scientist at Cochlear Limited.
Name: Cochlear Limited
R&D: $500 million in 5 years (to 2014)
Reach: Africa, Europe, USA, Middle East, Asia-Pacific as of 2012
At a glance: Listed in 1995, Cochlear Limited is one of Australia’s most celebrated advanced manufacturing success stories. It employs 2700 people in 25 countries with manufacturing sites in Sydney, Sweden, Belgium and the US.
– Paul Hendy