“Being an entrepreneur is an opportunity to promote your own values, to be free to make your own decisions and to make your dreams a reality.”
Jean Plé (1948 – 2017)
The Symbios story begins with the meeting of three men: Jean Plé, President EMEA of the world leader in orthopedics, Jacques Essinger, R&D Director of a biomedical startup, and Professor of Orthopedic Surgery Jean-Manuel Aubaniac of the University of Aix-Marseille. All three share the same vision: to design custom-made hip prostheses that adapt to the unique anatomy of each patient. Symbios was founded in July 1989 in Morges in the canton of Vaud (Switzerland).
Symbios is a young startup: within a few months, Jacques Essinger develops the first version of the Makestem software that enables the design of custom-made hip prostheses and their manufacture on digitally controlled machines. The first custom-made prosthesis prototype is manufactured in November 1989. Symbios then entrusts the manufacture of the prostheses to the mechanical subcontracting company Maurer-Bauman in Payerne.
The startup quickly becomes a success, but is also confronted with more restrictive regulations and lower prices for prostheses in Europe. Jacques Essinger leaves the company and Jean Plé takes over the management and control of Symbios. He adapts the strategy to extend the product portfolio to standard prostheses in order to appeal to a larger market than that of custom-made prostheses.
Symbios acquires the Maurer-Bauman company in order to bring the manufacturing of its products in-house and to better control production. The company opts to establish itself in the commune of Yverdon-les-Bains, halfway between the Symbios office in Morges and the Maurer-Bauman site in Payerne.
Publication of a new 3D classification of the proximal femur in collaboration with the Universities of Lausanne and Marseille (Husmann et al, JOA 1997). This article proposes a new methodology for describing the femur in three dimensions and its consequences on the design of hip implants to reconstruct the femur anatomically.
Commercial launch of the SPS® Modular stem. Symbios is one of the pioneering companies in the development of modular neck technology. This innovation offers the surgeon a wide range of reconstruction options to better restore the biomechanics of the hip, while maintaining a standard product offering and cost.
Commercial launch of the FIRST knee prosthesis, developed in collaboration with the orthopedic department of the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois (CHUV) in Lausanne. The first FIRST prosthesis is successfully implanted by Professor Pierre-François Leyvraz in 2006. Symbios then opens up to the knee prosthesis market, the largest segment of the orthopedic implant market.
Commercial launch of HIP-PLAN® software, the first software for 3D preoperative planning of hip prostheses. HIP-PLAN® allows the surgeon to simulate the implantation of the prosthesis in 3D, to determine implant sizes in advance and to predict the final result, as well as any possible surgical difficulties. Symbios thus offers a high value-added service in addition to its standard implants.
Launch of the KNEE-PLAN® Set for the FIRST prosthesis, which is the first single-use knee instrument set for planned implant sizes. This innovation allows a significant reduction in the instruments required for the prosthesis, allowing hospitals and clinics to be more efficient in optimizing their operating costs.
Launch of the SERENITY® hip prosthesis, enabling Symbios to complete its product offering in the dual mobility cup market segment, which is growing rapidly in Europe and worldwide. The SERENITY® cup benefits from a design that incorporates the experience of the last 40 years of the dual mobility concept, invented in France in the 1970s.
Commercial launch of the ORIGIN® PS custom-made knee prosthesis. In keeping with its high-tech past, Symbios achieves a breakthrough in the knee prosthesis market: the surgeon benefits from an implant whose shape perfectly matches the patient’s unique anatomy. Because the implants and instruments are custom-made, the material required for surgery is reduced to the absolute essentials, allowing hospitals to reduce their operating costs for each procedure.
Publication of the knee phenotype concept in collaboration with Professor Michael Hirschmann (Basel). A new classification of the functional anatomy of the knee is described. It highlights the great variation in the shape of the healthy knee from one individual to another, and thus the need for personalised knee prostheses to restore the anatomy.