Sivantos and Widex merge in a new lucrative deal
Leading hearing aid companies, Sivantos and Widex are set to merge in a new €bn ($8.28bn) deal, which will cement their grip in the market and lead to combined revenues of approximately €1.6bn. Acquiring Sivantos from Siemens in 2015, Swedish private equity firm, EQT will hold a majority of the merged organisation.
Employing more than 10,000 people worldwide, the merger will enable the merged organisation to become the third-largest supplier, with Sonova and William Demant remaining at the forefront. However, both companies’ shares have fallen slightly.
The growth in ageing populations is creating a dramatic shift in new technologies, where baby boomers and older generations are embracing new digital tools which will provide a greater quality of life. Around 700 million people worldwide suffer from different levels of hearing loss of which only around 10% currently use hearing aid devices.
The merger therefore aims to accelerate growth, strengthen market penetration and enhance efficiencies. This will allow the expansion and increased access to hearing healthcare via a dedicated salesforce, providing innovative solutions across a wide range of hearing needs, enabling people to continue leading better lives.
“The idea is to create a game changer for the future of hearing. Combining these two innovative companies will change the hearing experience for people with hearing loss across the world,” explained Marcus Brennecke, Partner at EQT Partners.
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“In Widex, we have found an equally strong partner to Sivantos, sharing a passion for enriching the quality of life for people with hearing deficiencies. The combined company presents a unique opportunity for EQT to extend the investment horizon in Sivantos and take part of the next phase of transforming the hearing aid industry. With nearly 170 years of combined experience, Sivantos and Widex will take the lead in developing hearing aid technology for future generations.”
The merged organisation is set to house one of the most innovative R&D teams in the industry, supported by financial and strategic capabilities, as well as strong digital skills to become a global powerhouse for hearing aids and hearing care solutions. Combined R&D resources will encompass approximately 800 specialists in R&D centres in Singapore, Germany and Denmark, with more than €100mn in annual R&D spending.
This will enable more products to be bought to market faster, for existing technologies to be regularly upgraded, whilst technology platforms will further seek to drive high-tech, user-friendly solutions. The combined entity will have a comprehensive, multi-channel sales platform spanning more than 125 markets.
Skin Analytics wins NHSX award for AI skin cancer tool
An artificial intelligence-driven tool that identifies skin cancers has received an award from NHSX, the NHS England and Department of Health and Social Care's initiative to bring technology into the UK's national health system.
NHSX has granted the Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award to DERM, an AI solution that can identify 11 types of skin lesion.
Developed by Skin Analytics, DERM analyses images of skin lesions using algorithms. Within primary care, Skin Analytics will be used as an additional tool to help doctors with their decision making.
In secondary care, it enables AI telehealth hubs to support dermatologists with triage, directing patients to the right next step. This will help speed up diagnosis, and patients with benign skin lesions can be identified earlier, redirecting them away from dermatology departments that are at full capacity due to the COVID-19 backlog.
Cancer Research has called the impact of the pandemic on cancer services "devastating", with a 42% drop in the number of people starting cancer treatment after screening.
DERM is already in use at University Hospitals Birmingham and Mid and South Essex Health & Care Partnership, where it has led to a significant reduction in unnecessary referrals to hospital.
Now NHSX have granted it the Phase 4 AI in Health and Care Award, making DERM available to clinicians across the country. Overall this award makes £140 million available over four years to accelerate the use of artificial intelligence technologies which meet the aims of the NHS Long Term Plan.
Dr Lucy Thomas, Consultant Dermatologist at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, said: “Skin Analytics’ receipt of this award is great news for the NHS and dermatology departments. It will allow us to gather real-world data to demonstrate the benefits of AI on patient pathways and workforce challenges.
"Like many services, dermatology has severe backlogs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This award couldn't have come at a better time to aid recovery and give us more time with the patients most in need of our help.”