Cochlear Ltd. banking on research and development


The Australian Business Review Weekly reports on Sydney-based global biotechnology company Cochlear Ltd. and its plans for future development.

The company has been through some difficult times in terms of earnings since June 2013. Net profit for 2014 so far has also dropped sharply. Regulatory delays are often highlighted as the main reason behind slower sales and growth, along with stronger competition that has lowered the company’s market share, though it remains by far world leader. Increased spending on product launches has also brought profits down. Another setback was recall of the C1500 implant range in September 2011.

But the company has clear plans to regain any lost ground. “One of our strategies is to continually invest,” says Cochlear Chief Executive Chris Roberts. “We’ve spent over 500 million on research and development in the last five years. Most of that benefit hasn’t come back yet.”

An example of Cochlear’s commitment is a recent improvement in the computational power of the sound processor in its implants. Supercharging the processor was intended to enable the system to analyze its surrounding environment and to cut through ambient noise, a major issue for hearing devices generally. Automatically distinguishing between speech and background noise is a huge challenge. The company itself has greeted this feature, known as automated scene analysis, with enthusiasm. Chris Roberts called it a breakthrough that he is very proud of. However, Cochlear is still waiting for approval from regulators to sell this feature in the United States, the company’s largest market.

Source: Business Review Weekly