- Published on 12 May 2023
Austrian cochlear implant pioneers, Dr. Ingeborg Hochmair and Prof. Erwin Hochmair have been granted the 2023 IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal for their outstanding contribution to communication and engineering.
The Hochmairs, founders of the company MED-EL, broke new ground in health technology through research that led to the development of the world’s first micro-electronic multi-channel cochlear implant, which was successfully implanted in 1977. Just a year before, in 1976, the Alexander Graham Bell Medal was established by the US-based Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) as a way of honouring technology that benefits humanity.
Since its inception, the Medal has been awarded to just 58 visionaries whose exceptional contributions have made a lasting impact on communications, networking sciences and engineering.
The first Austrians to receive the IEEE Medal, and Ingeborg only the second woman
Not only are Ingeborg and Erwin Hochmair the first Austrians ever to receive the IEEE Medal but they are the first recipients acknowledged for the development of a medical device. Dr. Ingeborg Hochmairis also only the second woman in the Alexander Graham Bell Medal’s 47-year-history to receive this award.
"We’re very proud of the pioneering innovations that have been made possible thanks to decades of painstaking research, significant advances in the fields of science, engineering and technology, and of course collaborations with medical experts, scientists, and implant users worldwide. Our goal is that people who use our devices truly benefit from medical innovations now and in the future and are able to achieve as close to natural hearing as possible” explained award-winning MED-EL CEO, Dr Ingeborg Hochmair.
IEEE Awards Board chair, Dr. Nim K. Cheung qualified the achievement: "By pairing engineering expertise with medical knowledge, Ingeborg and Erwin Hochmair have restored the gift of hearing to hundreds of thousands worldwide, fundamentally improving their lives. Their 2023 IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal is a well-deserved honor, and we congratulate them on their accomplishments."