The story of a family business at the forefront of innovation

“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)

2020
1989

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).

1989

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.

1990

Professor Aubaniac implants the first custom-made stem at the Sainte-Marguerite hospital in Marseille. By 1990, more than a hundred custom-made stems have been implanted in Marseille, Paris and Switzerland. The concept becomes a clinical reality.

1992

The milestone of 1,000 custom-made prostheses implanted is passed.

1993

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.

1993

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.

1993

Launch of the SPS® anatomical stem, the first standard prosthesis developed by Symbios, which capitalizes on the experience of custom-made stems. Its originality comes from the fact that it was designed as “a custom-made stem for a normal femur”.

1993

Opening of the subsidiary Symbios France SAS, to ensure the continued import of products from Switzerland to Europe.

1994-1999

Symbios continues its strategy of extending its product portfolio and successively launches the PRS, ARCAD, HILOCK and LEMANIA systems. These new products enable the company to complete its standard prosthesis offering and rapidly increase sales in European markets.

1997

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.

2001

Opening of the subsidiary Symbios Deutschland GmbH and start of marketing in Germany, the largest market in Europe.

2002

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.

2006

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.

2007

Commercial launch of the APRIL® Ceramic cup. Symbios continues to complete its range of hip prostheses and can now offer its customers the ceramic-ceramic friction couple, seeing strong growth in European markets.

2007

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.

2007

Commercial launch of the HARMONY® Modular stem, which completes Symbios’ range of standard stems by combining the self-locking straight stem concept with modular neck technology.

2008

Symbios receives the award from the company Suisse Romande SVC, which rewards its innovative approach to orthopedics and its position as world leader in custom-made prostheses.

2008

Opening of the subsidiary Symbios UK Ltd and start of marketing in the United Kingdom.

2009

Publication on 3D planning accuracy using HIP-PLAN® software by the Hôpital de la Pitié-Salpêtrière in Paris (Sariali et al, JBJS-Br 2009).

2009

Publication of 15-year results of the custom-made stem by the University of Aix-Marseille, demonstrating an improvement in function for patients under 50 years of age compared to standard stems (Flecher et al, CORR 2009).

2010

Florent Plé, son of our founder Jean Plé, joins the Symbios group’s management team and Board of Directors. The company is laying the foundations for the transfer of the company to the next generation in the family.

2010

Capitalizing on its experience in 3D hip planning, Symbios launches the KNEE-PLAN® custom cutting guides for the FIRST knee prosthesis. These custom-made instruments printed in 3D guide the surgeon with precision for the bone cuts, enabling the prosthesis to be aligned.

2012

Commercial launch of the fixed-bearing version of the FIRST prosthesis, which complements the FIRST range and enables Symbios to address a new segment of the knee prosthesis market.

2012

Publication of the 10-year results of the SPS® stem (Sariali et al, CORR 2012), reporting a 100% stem survival rate at 10 years of clinical follow-up.

2012

Commercial launch of the SPS® Evolution stem which completes the SPS® stem range. Based on the retrospective analysis of hundreds of postoperative 3D scans, this evolution of the concept increases the reconstruction options of the SPS® range.

2012

Implantation of the first prototypes of the ORIGIN® custom-made knee prosthesis by the physicians Tarik Aït Si Selmi and Michel Bonnin, in Lyon (France). The feasibility of the concept is validated and Symbios begins a pre-market clinical observation phase lasting several years.

2013

In order to strengthen its position as a leader in custom-made prostheses, Symbios changes its visual identity. The logo is modernized and is now accompanied by the slogan “Custom-made for you”.

2014

Launch of the Symbios Connect platform, which simplifies the ordering of custom-made products and the transmission of scans. Symbios takes an important step forward by improving the user experience for custom-made implants and enabling volume increases on an industrial scale.

2014

Publication on the positioning accuracy of the FIRST knee prosthesis with KNEE-PLAN® custom cutting guides, which demonstrates greater accuracy than conventional instruments (Franceschi et al, OTSR 2014).

2014

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.

2017

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.

2017

Jean Plé dies in a plane crash. The company loses its founder, President and CEO in tragic circumstances.

2017

Florent Plé takes over as CEO and head of the Symbios group, and becomes the second generation of the family’s management, succeeding his father. His brother, Julien Plé, joins the Board of Directors. Symbios reaffirms its family identity and the continuity of its founding values.

2018

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.

2019

Opening of the sales subsidiary Symbios Österreich GmbH and start of direct marketing in Austria.

2019

Publication of 20-year results of the custom-made hip stem for patients under 50 years of age by the University of Aix-Marseille (Dessyn et al, Hip International 2019). This publication confirms the excellent survival results of custom-made hip stems in the very long term.

2019

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.

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