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May 9, 2017

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Sonova is listening, focuses on China

SONOVA, one of the leading providers of innovative hearing care solutions, officially launched its global hearing institute in the Suzhou Industrial Park last week, demonstrating its long-term commitment to the Chinese market.

Leonard Marshall, vice president of Sonova Asia-Pacific, told Shanghai Daily that the hearing institute’s priority and key focus is China and it also aims to cover all of the Asia-Pacific region.

“We fully recognize the importance of Asia-Pacific region and the need for more educational institutions in the area,” he said.

The launch of the Sonova Global Hearing Institute, the first of its kind for the Switzerland-headquartered company, also expands its operations in China: now consisting of training, manufacturing, marketing and sales.

“Combined with our extensive product line in China, we’re showing our commitment to professionalism training and our support for market and patient education,” Marshall said.

There is a severe shortage of audiology experts and hearing professionals in China and Sonova hopes to improve awareness and enhance the training of clinical practitioners in China so that more audiology professionals can deal with patients.

“Benefiting hearing care professionals in the country and enhancing their professional level is the key reason why we’re setting up the hearing institute in China,” Marshall said.

In the long run, he also hopes China would become one of the company’s biggest market in terms of sales thanks to its large market potential and new product launches in Asia-Pacific region in recent years.

The Sonova Global Hearing Institute would become a practice space for current and future hearing professionals to enhance their practical and clinical skills — a place where they could gain hands-on experience before they meet real customers and patients as well as learn about how the products and software of Sonova’s work.

The company focuses on setting up equipment and facilities for the Global Hearing Institute by the end of this year and opening it for enrolment next year. Marshall added that another key part of the company’s strategy was to expand geographically to extend its distribution network into lower-tier cities. It also plans to add more staff to provide services in some of the relatively remote areas in China.

Currently the penetration rate for hearing aide devices among patients with severe hearing losses is only 1.5 percent in China, compared with 37 percent in Australia. Marshall sees it essential to address the market as well as to raise awareness among potential customers in China.

Sonova has been in the forefront of the industry in terms of technological innovation, academic ability, professional personnel training and hearing care services.

Last year, it signed a global strategic cooperation framework with the Beijing Institute of Otolaryngology and inaugurated the global strategic cooperation center at the same time.

The partnership includes scientific research, as well as education and training, universal accesses to hearing care knowledge and efforts to improve public awareness of hearing care.

Chinese people are also not fully aware of hearing problems and solutions. And hearing health care is in particular in shortage because of the lack of infrastructure and awareness of presbycusis.

According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 150 million Chinese suffer some degree of hearing impairment, but only 5 percent of the 27.8 million with registered hearing disabilities use hearing aids.


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