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Healing bones with passion – and ceramics

OssDsign has found a new way to repair bone. The company’s implant, OssDsign Craniomosaic, is custom-made and implanted into the skull. The company has gone from research to commercialization quickly, thanks in part to the help of the business development programs UIC Business Start, UIC Business Prep and UIC Business Accelerator.

The story of OssDsign began eight years ago when Thomas Engstrand, plastic surgeon at Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, had the idea of using a new innovative implant design based on a bioceramic material to repair bone. In 2011, Thomas Engstrand formed OssDsign together with CEO Bo Qwarnström, Håkan Engqvist, Professor of Applied Materials Science at the Ångström and Engqvist’s doctoral student Jonas Åberg. After receiving critical startup funding from UUAB (Uppsala University Holding Company) and VINNOVA CEO Bo Qwarnström started to look for additional investors.

– It was very tough, he says. Interest in the idea was great, but the economic situation made ​​it more difficult than ever. Finally, Karolinska Development and Almi Invest put in SEK 9 million in venture capital. Now the first chapter of a future success story could start off.


OssDsign

It really grows bone!

Up to now, patients treated have all been difficult cases, often with earlier failed implants. The first patient came in 2009, a man with an 80 square inch hole in his skull following a brutal beating. Many treatments were tried but none worked – until he was referred to the Karolinska Hospital. For the first time, the ceramic implant was inserted into the skull – and with great success. The healing process went well and the circulation functioned as it should. During a CT scan 25 months later, their greatest hopes come true – the mosaic material was seen to be dense!

– We almost didn’t believe it ourselves, Bo Qwarnström explains, but it was bone tissue that had actually grown around and onto the implant.


Bo Qwarnström och Sten Dahlborg

Bo Qwarnström with UIC’s business coach Sten Dahlborg

UIC has been a big support

UIC has given key support during the whole process. Bo Qwarnström says that UIC has contributed with many knowledgeable insights as well as a Chairman, Anders Nordström, who Bo describes with superlatives. In Sten Dahlborg, UIC has also provided an energetic business coach.

– Our business coach Sten Dahlborg is a very knowledgeable and expe-rienced person, has been very helpful, says Bo. It is extremely important to bring in complementary skills and experience, not least as a speaking partner.


Ready for the world

OssDsign has launched its ceramic implants in the Nordic and German markets. A launch in the US is planned in the near future. They have now started the registration process with the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Big plans, but do they have the capacity to meet demand if it takes off?

– We have good opportunities to expand here in Uppsala Business Park if needed, says Bo Qwarnström. We plan to hire more personnel, such as production staff with practical skills who can ensure that the implants will be as cosmetically appealing as possible. Our patients just want to get back the way they look.


Great (secret?) possibilities

You don’t need much imagination or knowledge in biomaterials to get ideas about how the material could bring even greater benefits. With other types of fractures? Malformations? Bone cancer?

– Even if we focus on skull damages it is clear that we are eager to find possible uses within other areas. New ideas come up all the time. … But then Bo Qwarnström pauses:

– … my lips are sealed.

Today, OssDsign receives business development support through the program UIC Business Accelerator and has previously completed UIC Business Start and UIC Business Prep.