Ottobock SE & Co. KGaA
Mobility for people
All around the world, the Ottobock name stands for high-quality, technologically outstanding products and services in the field of medical technology. The goal of helping to restore mobility for people with disabilities – and protect the mobility they have retained – stands behind each and every one of the company’s products. Our conviction that quality of life is closely connected to a maximum of individual freedom and independence is a key concept that has been a major influence throughout the company’s nearly 100-year history. It also provides targeted focus for the development of new products.
Ottobock is a med-tech company that has been operating in the legal form SE & Co. KGaA since 2018 and has seen stable growth for years: in 2017, sales rose by 4.6 per cent to EUR 927.4 million, adjusted for currency exchange effects, and the number of employees increased to 7,000 worldwide. The company’s international activities are coordinated from the head office in Duderstadt. A network consisting of sales and service companies in over 50 countries gives the company a global presence which enables close proximity to its customers. Thanks to the Prosthetics, Orthotics, Human Mobility (manual and power wheelchairs, rehabilitation products) and Ottobock Industrials business segments as well as the Clinical Services Network, the company is perfectly positioned and capable of offering its customers a nearly incomparable breadth of products, perfectly harmonised solutions and extensive services. Swedish private equity firm EQT holds a 20 per cent share in Ottobock SE & Co. KGaA. Eighty percent remains in the hands of Otto Bock Holding GmbH & Co. KG, which belongs entirely to the owner family, the Näders.
Ottobock’s products set standards
A key area of Ottobock’s research and development consists of mechatronic solutions for the autoadaptive control of prosthetic components. The electronic intelligence integrated into the product takes the burden off the user by enabling the systems to adapt to different conditions and everyday situations automatically. Based on this technology, products from our prosthetics range are continuously setting standards in the provision of medical devices to people with disabilities. Launched in 1997, the C-Leg was the first lower limb prosthesis solution in the world to be controlled entirely by a microprocessor. In 2011, the global leader market leader in exoprosthetics presented another product development milestone: the Genium – Bionic Prosthetic Solution, which simulates a natural, physiological gait almost perfectly. The Michelangelo prosthetic hand, in turn, represents a quantum leap in upper limb prosthetics. Controlled by muscle signals, it offers four movable fingers and a thumb that can be positioned separately so the user can execute different types of gripping movements quickly, accurately and reliably.
Highlights in 2015 included the launch of the Kenevo, making the benefits of microprocessor-controlled lower limb prosthesis solutions available to people with lower mobility grades for the first time. Meanwhile, the Genium X3 and the fourth generation of the C-Leg established themselves as state-of-the-art technology for more active transfemoral amputees.
Ottobock is also a global market leader in the field of neuroorthopaedics. These devices are intended for people who are affected by complete or partial lower limb paralysis. The C-Brace® knee-ankle-foot orthosis is the first mechatronic orthotic solution in the world that controls the entire gait cycle dynamically and in real time.
Strict quality control standards are essential due to reliability and safety requirements as well as the amount of strain placed on the products. Before a new Ottobock prosthetic foot is brought to market, for example, it is tested in special gait simulators where it covers around three million steps. Furthermore, complex testing at the gait lab provides insights into the reaction forces at work during the rollover of a prosthetic foot or the influence that a prosthesis has on the metabolism of the test subject. This helps us identify solutions that reduce user effort as much as possible.
In addition to product quality, a further focus is the quality of the fitting quality. Ottobock’s MedicalCare department now operates over 130 fitting centres around the world. Business customers to whom Ottobock Business Service makes its range and know-how available as services also benefit from the knowledge acquired at these centres. This includes expertise with respect to high-quality fittings as well as a detailed understanding of the market and the individual business models developed for countries and regions.
Training and continuing education provided by the Ottobock Academy
Sharing state-of-the-art specialist expertise, ensuring the quality of prosthetic care and taking a targeted approach to counter the international shortage of skilled workers: based on these objectives, the Ottobock Academy pursues a strong role in the training and continuing education of orthopaedic and rehabilitation technicians. The extensive and varied programme is directed at all experts participating in a patient’s fitting process. It is also attended by Ottobock employees from around the world, enabling them to provide customers and partners with qualified advice and support. In cooperation with the PFH Private University of Applied Sciences in Göttingen and the University of Göttingen, as well as other partners in medicine and science, Ottobock has developed courses of study in the fields of orthobionics and healthcare technology. These courses bridge the gap between medical research, modern medicine and orthopaedic technology.
Ottobock’s commitment to disability sport has long been a fixture of the company’s philosophy. The goal is to place people with disabilities at the centre of society and highlight their abilities as incredible athletes and role models, demonstrating that sports and performance can give people new courage to face life. This spirit is embodied by the Paralympic Games, which Ottobock has actively backed and supported since the Games in Seoul in 1988. At Rio 2016, Ottobock put in a total of 14,500 hours of work with a 100-member technical service team made up of technicians from 29 countries. During this time, 2,408 repair orders involving 3,361 individual repairs were carried out. Ottobock has been a partner of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) since 2005 and extended this contract until the end of 2020 at the Games in Rio.
Bötzow Quarter – room for ideas
Ottobock has started systematically expanding its presence in Berlin in the run-up to the company’s 100-year anniversary in 2019. The goal is to advance vital topics for the future – such as the digitalisation of orthopaedic technology – and to attract the right talent and creative minds that will help the family company achieve this objective. Interdisciplinary teams from various Ottobock sites will come together at the premises of the former Bötzow Brewery in the Prenzlauer Berg district. Here at this complex of listed historic buildings, they will set their sights on the future and work on implementing the company’s ambitious digital strategy.