An active step: Ottobock acquires BionX
AUSTIN, Texas (March 8, 2017) – Ottobock HealthCare has acquired Boston, Massachusetts based BionX Medical Technologies
Ottobock continues to strengthen its position as the global market leader in prosthetics with the acquisition of the company BionX. The US company BionX Medical Technologies, Inc. produces the world’s only active prosthetic foot and ankle solution available in the market – the Empower Ankle. It replaces the function of the muscles and tendons with an actively driven ankle joint, and supports the user by supplying additional energy while walking. Ottobock continues to expand its portfolio of mechatronic prosthetic feet with the acquisition.
“Innovations are our key growth driver. Combining the know-how of Ottobock and BionX is a crucial step towards reaching goals such as the intuitive prosthetic leg more quickly,” says Professor Hans Georg Näder, President of Otto Bock HealthCare GmbH.
This is the second forward-looking addition to the portfolio this year following the recent acquisition of the bebionic hand. “With the products we have acquired, both in upper limb and lower limb prosthetics, we will offer even more comprehensive fitting solutions in the future and therefore even better Quality for Life in the interest of our users. We are also promoting constructive networking with innovative minds at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and are already working on the joint further development of existing ideas with the BionX team,” Professor Hans Georg Näder says.
BionX company founder and inventor of the first generation of the Empower Ankle, Hugh Herr, is also a Professor at MIT where he directs the Center for Extreme Bionics. Herr is considered one of the world leaders in the field of high-tech research. The headquarters and production facility of BionX are located in the Boston area as well. Ottobock is moving closer to the Boston research community with the acquisition.
“I am certain that this transaction constitutes an important step towards shaping the future of bionic prostheses by combining Ottobock’s proven track record of setting standards of care for amputees with BionX’s groundbreaking product and innovation capabilities,” Dr. Hugh Herr says.
The principle of intuitive control has already been successfully realised in upper limb prosthetics with myoelectric prostheses and the complex TMR fitting*. With its active drive system, the Empower Ankle technology is a crucial element in the development of an equivalent for the lower limbs. Various sensors and microprocessors integrated into the prosthesis currently determine the energy, resistance and flexion in the ankle joint required for each step, reflexively adapting to the respective situation. Nerves are intended to deliver the vital impulses in the future in order to control the active component.
Subsequently this development could also be used in other segments such as orthotics. Ottobock has already been the exclusive distributor of the Empower Ankle in the markets of Germany, Austria and Switzerland, Scandinavia and the United Kingdom since last year. Now the Duderstadt-based company is also taking over global marketing with the acquisition of BionX. The two sides have agreed to maintain confidentiality regarding details of the agreement.
* About TMR: TMR stands for “Targeted Muscle Reinnervation”, a complex fitting procedure. It allows arm amputees to use their prosthesis intuitively by connecting the nerves that used to transmit signals to the natural arm to other muscles in the body by means of surgery. More information about TMR is found here: www.tmr-rehabilitation.de
About Ottobock: Ottobock develops medical technology products and fitting concepts for people with limited mobility in the fields of Prosthetics, Orthotics, Human Mobility (wheelchairs, rehabilitation devices) and MedicalCare. Subsidiaries in over 50 countries offer quality “Made in Germany” worldwide and employ around 6,800 people. Ottobock has been a family-managed company since its founding in 1919 and has also been supporting the Paralympic Games with its technical know-how since 1988.