NAME OF STARTUP: Cleanhearing – Breakthrough multimodal system for tinnitus relief
FOUNDED IN: 2017
Name Of Founder / Co-Founder: Hidero Niioka
THE IDEA: What is the problem being solved by your startup / business?:
Millions of people worldwide suffer from tinnitus, or ‘ringing in the ears’, a condition where they experience noise that, in most cases, does not have a physical cause. For some it is a minor annoyance, but for others it can be severe and debilitating.
Tinnitus is often linked to hearing loss, or exposure to loud noise, making it common in some occupations including the military.
Other causes include stress, hormonal changes, and some medications. Tinnitus can also follow bacterial or viral infections and is emerging as a possible long-term health consequence of Covid-19.
Historically, tinnitus has been treated as a condition of the ear with no possibility of a cure. Recent research however has linked tinnitus to brain neuroplasticity and overactivity of neurons in the auditory cortex linked to hearing loss and reduced auditory input.
Research has also shown that electrical stimulation can help resolve this abnormal brain activity with corresponding relief of symptoms.
This has led to the emergence of a number of electrical stimulation technologies for tinnitus such as rTMS (repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation) and VNS (vagus nerve stimulation).
Unfortunately, patient access to many such treatment options is restricted as they require a prescription and are only available under medical supervision in a limited number of clinical settings.
Cleanhearing solves this problem by offering tinnitus patients a non-invasive, evidence-based electrical stimulation treatment that is available without prescription and suitable for self-application at home.
THE FOUNDER’S STORY: When and how did you come up with the idea for the business?:
Hidero was born in Japan and educated in Germany and the US. He developed his passion for entrepreneurship studying law at Stanford and went on to found startups IP Nexus (IP commercialization) and Patentfield, (IP analytics).
He founded Cleanhearing in 2017 after meeting the inventor of Cleanhearing’s patented technology and being convinced of its potential to improve outcomes for tinnitus patients by increasing patient access to promising, emerging electrical stimulation technology.
Input from other hearing industry specialists led to the development of a complementary notched music app, and the evolution of Sono into a multimodal medical device.
WHO IS THE CUSTOMER: What is the typical profile of your target customer? Where would they be located?:
Tinnitus patients, health tech experts, medical device makers, doctors, hearing aids specialists, audiologists, medical staff.
LESSONS TO SHARE: What 3 key lessons from your startup journey you’d like to share with aspiring entrepreneurs?:
Cleanhearing is a hearing solutions company and the manufacturer of Sono, a medical device and multimodal system for tinnitus relief that combines tinnitus-specific electrical stimulation technology with a tailored notched music therapy.
Sono’s specialised headphones and handheld controller deliver pulses of electromagnetic energy over the auditory cortex and temporal regions of the brain to target the physiological causes of tinnitus.
Patients can use Sono as a standalone treatment, or connect Sono to their smartphone and the Cleanhearing app for a second, complementary tailored notched music therapy.
Sono’s patented technology was developed according to scientific research into effects of pulsed electromagnetic fields and notched music on tinnitus perception and underlying tinnitus pathophysiology.
It was developed by European engineers with support from leading medical colleges in the US and Japan. In 2019, Cleanhearing was a global finalist at Falling Wall Ventures competition for science startups.
HQ City: Spittal an der Drau, Austria
Website URL: https://www.cleanhearing.com
Number of Employees: 1-5