Sophono raises cash to market hearing aid

BOULDER – Hearing-aid manufacturer Sophono Inc. closed recently on a funding round of a little more than $1 million to aid in ramping up its marketing efforts this year.

The Swiss firm Windgan, a prior Sophono investor, led the equity funding round.

Boulder-based Sophono makes hearing aids that work by using bone conduction. Whereas normal hearing aids work by increasing volume and pushing air in the ear canal, Sophono’s device includes a magnet implanted under the skin behind a patient’s ear. The rest of the device then attaches to the magnet outside the skin. When the device vibrates against the side of the head, it conducts sound through the skull to the inner ear.

Howard Vickers, Sophono’s head of operations and finance, said Sophono is adding two employees in Boulder immediately as well as one in the Northeast. The company’s annual revenue, he said, is around $5 million.

More than 3,000 people in 36 countries have Sophono implants, and Vickers said the market is about to grow exponentially. He said competitor Cochlear recently began producing a similar magnetic implant for its own bone conduction hearing devices.

 “The magnetic slice of the pie is about to get much larger, and we want to participate in the whole market,” Vickers said.

Sophono completed a restructuring of the company about six months ago that included the hiring of a new chief executive, Dr. Peter Ruppersberg.

“Until recently, our main competitor only offered a hearing solution with an abutment protruding visibly through the skin of the patient’s head,” Ruppersberg said in a press release. “With their strategic reversal and large budget, the competitor is now accelerating magnetic adoption faster than we could on our own. That’s why we’re investing heavily to increase our share in a market that’s already more than $100 million a year.”


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