Ossis targets UK market to expand sales of 3D titanium implants
By Fiona Rotherham
Sept. 4 (BusinessDesk) - Ossis Ltd, which uses 3D printing technology to custom design titanium implants for patients with severely damaged bones and joints, is expanding outside of Australasia to the UK.
The Christchurch-based company this year doubled monthly sales of the implants to four or five across New Zealand and Australia. It's now in talks with a UK distributor to enter that market in the next few months, giving it a springboard to Europe, the second-largest market after the US.
"We’d be hoping to sell upwards of 100 a year easily in the UK market over time,” said general manager Madeleine Martin. The company will eventually look to place staff on the ground in Europe to liaise with the orthopaedic surgeons who make the call on whether to use the products, she said.
The US, the world’s biggest market for the implants, has a different registration system for medical devices and it’s likely to be two-to-three years before the company heads there, Martin said.
“Our goal is to be the world leader in this technology and although we currently still are, we need to get ourselves out there,” she said.
There have been 70 operations to date using Ossis’ custom-built designs for hips and knees, all of which were successful, with a further three pending, said Martin. Ossis had the world's most extensive clinical data for custom 3D implants, which should help win credibility in other markets.
The privately-owned company was founded in 2007 by directors James Burn and Paul Morrison. In March, additional angel investors bought about 20 percent of Ossis’ parent company, Ti Holdings, to provide additional capital for growth.
Martin said that funding, along with a Ministry for Business Innovation & Employment targeted research science grant of $4 million over four years, was sufficient to fund the company’s growth for the near future. It has also had Callaghan Innovation student grants that part-fund undergraduate and PhD university students to work in the business.
A significant amount of revenue is going into research and development, with 10 research projects underway into extending the implants’ use, including other parts of the hip, knee and spine. The company has also helped plastic surgeons with 3D printed plastic moulds that can be used to aid facial reconstructions.
The custom-designed implants are as much as $3,000 dearer than off-the-shelf applications, meaning the Ossis product is typically only used when the surgery goes wrong or in complicated cases.
But Martin said Ossis has just completed a cost-effectiveness survey that showed its products were 15 percent more cost effective than the off-the-shelf alternative, when contributing factors such as length of surgery, hospital stay, rehabilitation time, and failure rates, were taken into account.
As the technology improves production times will be cut further and she said the three to four weeks for delivery is already typically within the timeframe patients are waiting for their surgery.
(BusinessDesk is funded by Callaghan Innovation for coverage on the commercialisation of innovation).