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Health Enterprise East and West Herts Trust spin out company announces sale of pioneering ear implant technology

18 November 2015

Health Enterprise East (HEE) has announced the sale of its portfolio company, Northwood Medical Innovations Ltd, to Allergan plc, a leading global pharmaceutical and aesthetics company.

Founded in 2010 as a spin out of HEE and West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, Northwood Medical Innovations has developed a pioneering implant technology, earFold™ as an alternative to conventional otoplasty surgery in the correction of prominent ears. A minimally invasive technique, the procedure takes 20 minutes under local anaesthetic as an outpatient, compared to the traditional two hours in general surgery. Overall patient outcomes are improved, with reduced risk of keloid scaring and cartilage damage, less chance of infection, faster recovery times and improved symmetry when both ears are being corrected.

earFold received a CE mark in April 2015, and has been made available by Northwood Medical Innovation to trained and accredited surgeons, primarily in the UK. Upon closure of the deal Allergan intends to commercialise the product widely across Europe, in line with its CE mark, and will continue to explore the regulatory pathways and necessary clinical data requirements to commercialise this medical device in other countries, including the United States of America.

Revenues due to HEE from the sale will be re-invested into ensuring that other pioneering innovations from staff across the NHS are identified, developed and commercialised.


About earFold

earFold™ implants reshape protruding ears with a simple procedure lasting just a few minutes. A local anaesthetic injection is used to completely numb the ear. The implants are then introduced under the skin of the ear through a small incision. Once in place, earFold grips the cartilage of the ear and immediately adopts a pre-set shape. This creates or enhances the shape of the anti-helical fold, reducing the prominence of the ear. The incision is then closed. While in place, the implant re-moulds the cartilage of the ear allowing it to maintain its new shape. Since earFold is made of a super-elastic material, the ear can still be moved in a natural way while the implant is in place and it will always spring back to its corrected position

About the inventor

Norbert Kang is a Consultant Plastic Surgeon based at the Royal Free Hospital in London. Following a number of notable, personal experiences when treating patients with prominent ears, Mr. Kang developed a particular interest in otoplasty surgery. This interest eventually led him to invent the earFold implant, with the specific intention of providing patients with a minimally invasive, local anaesthetic procedure as an alternative to conventional otoplasty surgery.

About Health Enterprise East

Health Enterprise East (HEE) is committed to improving healthcare through the provision of professional business and innovation management services. The HEE team works with NHS organisations nationally and Med Tech companies globally to support the development of innovative products and services which meet currently unmet healthcare needs. The company offers a broad range of tailored services from strategic analysis and market validation, to practical advice and insight.

Through its member services, HEE also ensures that pioneering innovations from staff across the NHS are identified, developed and commercialised for the benefit of patients, staff and society. Closely affiliated with founding member Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, HEE currently serves over 30 NHS organisations in the East of England, East Midlands and North London. Trusts can opt to sign up as members of HEE and access a full range of skills and expertise.

About Northwood Medical Innovation Ltd

Northwood Medical Innovation Ltd (NMI) was incorporated in 2010 to provide a vehicle for investment in the earFold™ concept. NMI is a privately held company based in London and was founded by the inventor of earFold – Dr Norbert V Kang – a Plastic Surgeon working at the Royal Free Hospital in London.

Marie-Claire Haines has been the Managing Director of the company since 2010. During this time NMI has successfully managed the early prototyping and development of the earFold concept, taking the technology through cadaveric and finally human clinical trials. The earFold implant has been commercialised in the UK since 2013, and was recently awarded a CE mark in April 2015, enabling NMI to start expanding sales in Europe and other countries.