In Hirzel, the specialists of Acutronic Medical Systems make technical refinements, create innovations and assemble finished components with a very special clientele in mind: tiny, preterm babies, many of whom weigh barely one kilo, and who rely on artificial respiration to survive. “Designed uncompromisingly for this target group, our product range covers the entire spectrum of neonatal monitoring and ventilation,” says company owner Roland Hotz, adding: “From simple, non-invasive ventilation, to highly complex high-frequency devices, we’re the only company on the planet that can offer a complete range for premature babies.” These devices not only ensure that preemies survive, but also that they survive without handicap; without damage to the lungs or retina due to excessive oxygen, for example.
Thanks to its specialization in this niche, the 99 percent export-driven Swiss SME successfully holds its own in international competition. And this mostly against multinational corporations, who, according to Hotz, “cannot keep up with short innovation cycles like we can.” In 2017, Acutronic Medical Systems achieved sales of 22 million Swiss francs with 30 employees. This success is down to the fact that Roland Hotz spent 300 days a year on the road, cultivated his 30-year professional network, visited congresses and trade fairs and established new contacts.
Getting started with new technology
The basis for Acutronic Medical Systems’ successful start was laid in 2012 by a cooperation with the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam. The jointly developed “closed loop”-FiO2 control for the ventilation of the smallest premature babies led to a major order and market leadership in the Netherlands. The new devices impressed the professional world, and this soon opened doors with neonatal intensive care units in many Western European countries.
Acutronic still works with local distributors, but its own distribution company, which was founded recently in Germany, is soon to be follow by others. It's not just in Europe that premature babies have long benefited from Acutronic ventilators. Roland Hotz explains: “In the Middle East, we are represented by a local sales office as well as clinical and technical support.” And, despite cultural and bureaucratic hurdles, we’ve even put the feelers out in China. There is little chance of dwindling demand: every year, 15 million babies are born too early, and the trend is growing.