Sonova Asia Pacific opens training institute
Sonova Asia Pacific is hoping its new international training institute in Jiangsu province will help drive hearing-aid sales in China.
Next to the Swiss group’s manufacturing base in Suzhou, the Sonova Global Hearing Institute offers both theory and practical experience for hearing-care staff. The first international training institute set up by the company, it is projected to enroll up to 30 students a month.
A new national survey has shown that 27.8 million people in China are born with or affected by hearing problems. Meanwhile, there are only 10,000 certified professionals there who can prescribe tailored hearing aids for rehabilitation. Only four universities offer audiology degrees.
The shortage of hearing professionals is a key challenge for the company, says Sonova Asia Pacific CEO Leonard Marshall. Students trained by the institute are not obligated to use the company’s products.
There are also not enough healthcare services for the deaf in China, says Marshall.
“The focus of the global institute is, of course, China,” he said at the centre’s opening ceremony.
Sonova has three manufacturing bases internationally. The Suzhou factory last year produced more than 2.5 million hearing aids for the global market, but it also has a focus on tailormade devices to meet the surging demand in Asia.
In China, Sonova is working only with distributors because of the low level of professionalism to support a retail sales network.
The company’s financial report for the first half of fiscal 2016/17 showed sales of US$1.06 billion, up by 6.7 per cent. Asia Pacific contributed 11 per cent of the total, while China was second in the region after Australia.
Statistics from the China Ministry of Industry and Information Technology show that in 2014 about 4.06 million hearing aids were sold, up 21 per cent. It is expected that by 2020 the market size will be worth RMB5 billion (US$725.6 million).