Compumedics designs, develops, manufactures, and sells medical devices, software, and systems primarily for diagnosing and monitoring sleep and neurological disorders.
These products enable clinicians to interpret highly complex physiological signals emitted by the human body to assist in diagnosing and treating various sleep and brain disorders.
Since it was established in 1987, Compumedics has grown from two to around 140 staff at offices in Australia, the US and Germany. Today, it earns about $35 million annually from sales of its products worldwide, and in the last 10 years has generated over $300 million in export revenue for Australia.
In the early 1990s, Compumedics' technology was still in its infancy. Company founder, Dr David Burton, wanted to conduct more research and develop new technologies to help clinicians analyse physiological and clinical data to better diagnose up to 85 known sleep disorders.
"The rationale is that better diagnosis leads to better treatment outcomes," says David Lawson, Chief Financial Officer.
In 1992–93, Compumedics was awarded around $240,000 under the Australian Government's Discretionary Grants Scheme. From 1997–2000, Compumedics was awarded over $3.5 million worth of grants under the R&D Start Grant program, which enabled the company to produce its P Series portable sleep systems. These devices allow clinicians to complete a full sleep study on a patient at any location such as a hospital, university clinic or at home.
"This led to our first major contract in the US in 1996 with the Sleep, Heart, Health Study. Subsequent contracts with major US universities gave Compumedics a solid initial presence in the US," says Lawson.
The study, which is still running, is investigating obstructive sleep apnoea and other sleep disorders that may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Around 20,000 patients have been assessed over the past 15 years, providing a significant research data bank for future product innovations.
Another innovation that emerged from the funding was a portable wireless device that feeds sleep-monitoring information to a computer within a 100-metre radius. This makes testing more comfortable for patients, particularly those who suffer regular seizures that need to be continuously recorded to capture vital diagnostic data.
"We also purchased the world-leading, US-based, research-focused neurological system developer Neuroscan Inc in 2002," says Lawson.
"This acquisition enabled us to evolve aspects of our sleep diagnostic technology with Neuroscan® neurodiagnostics technology to create Compumedics' Neuvo® systems, a new generation of world-leading long-term EEG monitoring technology."
This equipment is today used by the London School of Medicine in the UK as well as Stanford University, UCLA and Albert Einstein Institute in the US to conduct research into epilepsy and other neurological disorders.
Compumedics further expanded into ultrasonic blood-flow monitoring of the brain with the purchase of the Germany-based DWL business in 2004. The acquisition complemented Compumedics' existing comprehensive portfolio of intellectual property and patents focused around brain function, which is at the heart of the company's sleep diagnostic capabilities.