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Saving someone’s hearing is not just good health care, it’s good business

Dr. Manohar BanceYou can sense the enthusiasm when Dr. Manohar Bance talks about the new hearing technology research being developed at the Capital District Health Authority (CDHA) in Halifax, NS. 

It’s an excitement that is certainly justified.

In addition to saving people’s hearing, this new technology stands to return its research investment many times over in a growing hearing aid market worth over $36 million in annual business worldwide.
So how does it work?

“This new type of bone conduction hearing technology works by directly stimulating the inner ear through skull vibrations,” explains Dr. Bance, Director of the Ear and Auditory Research Laboratory and leader of the research project.

“No surgical implants are required for the technology to work – it’s a much less invasive way to enhance someone’s hearing.”

With no surgery required, people with hearing challenges can simply put on the device and take it off themselves, as needed, he says.

But the use of the exciting hearing technology might also go beyond hearing rehabilitation — Dr. Bance believes it has tremendous potential for use in other things like better music transmission (think headphones!) or improved communications devices for people who work in security, military and emergency services.

The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency invested in CDHA’s “New Bone Conduction Hearing” research and development project through the Atlantic Innovation Fund (AIF).

The AIF is designed to encourage partnerships among private sector firms, universities, colleges and other research institutions to develop new or improved products and services.

Dr. Bance says ACOA’s support has enabled the CDHA to undertake this important research which has, in turn, helped position Nova Scotia as a leader in the life sciences research and development sector. 

“The funding from ACOA allowed us to develop from a regional and national player to one of the world leaders in this area,” he says proudly. “It has been absolutely pivotal in allowing us to leverage a host of other resources, and coalesce into a cluster that is now developing many technologies.”

So what’s the next step?

Dr. Bance says the CDHA, which conducts more than $11.7 million in clinical research every year, plans to partner with established industry leaders to manufacture, licence and market products resulting from the development of this new technology.

Exciting indeed.

Project: New class of hearing devices using bone conduction technology used in hearing rehabilitation and future applications in security, military and emergency services communication devices.
Proponent: Capital District Health
Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia
AIF funding: $2.6 million – Round III
Total project value: $4 million

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Published in 2010