Syntellix: Disrupting the Medical Implant Titans with a Screw that Disappears
Set in early October 2017, this case follows Utz Claassen, the founder and chairman of Syntellix – a medical parts company that specialised in the research, development and sales of bio-absorbable, metallic implants. Syntellix was founded in 2008 as a spin-off from the special research division at the University of Hanover in Germany with the intention of translating the institute’s theoretical knowledge of magnesium-based biodegradable implants into viable medical applications. After the successful completion of animal testing in 2010, the company began human clinical studies of its patented MAGNEZIX® alloy used in compression screws, pins and plates for the treatment of bone fractures, which had traditionally relied on steel and titanium parts.
After more than five years of meticulous hard work, by 2017 MAGNEZIX® medical screws and pins have met CE-approval for human use in 30 countries. The product officially launched in Germany in September 2013. And by the end of 2016, about 25,000 successful implants had taken place across Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. In March 2017, Syntellix AG founded Syntellix Asia based in Singapore, where it received venture financing and government support to make inroads into the booming Asian healthcare sector. Despite such success, the biggest operational difficulty Syntellix has is to continue making its way in a market dominated by gigantic players with huge resources, infrastructure and relationship network.
Through this case, students will be introduced to the concept of disruptive innovation. They can discuss the key principles by which successful entrepreneurs can introduce and manage disruptive innovations under conditions of uncertainty, and analyse what options are available to competitors in the wake of a disruptive innovation and how the disrupter should respond to these attacks.
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