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Medtronic-Kyphon in Neuchâtel: the harmony between a company and a region

How a Californian company came to Neuchâtel? Kyphon was founded in 1994 in Sunnyvale, California, around the concept of minimal invasive therapies for the spine, specifically in order to restore vertebral height. The indications are fractures caused by osteoporosis, cancer or trauma. The procedure actually consists of inserting two balloons into the vertebrae, then gradually inflating these using a radio opaque solution, while controlling the volume and pressure of the balloons as well as the height of the vertebrae; subsequently, the balloons are deflated and the voids created are filled with organic cement.This minimal invasive therapy was an immediate success, mainly in the USA. Since 1998, the international market has become a key part of Kyphon. Our European headquarters were established in Brussels to serve the European and Asian markets. After recognising the fact that a single production site does not provide sufficient guarantees for the development and continuity of the company, Kyphon’s management decided to create a brand new manufacturing plant and distribution center in Europe. In February 2006, Kyphon Sàrl was set up in Neuchâtel.

Moving fast

In order to start business without delay, a temporary distribution center and a financial service center were set up. In parallel, the plot of land for the future plant was chosen; the design and the building activities began. These steps and the acquisition of the first production machines were made in an extreme short period of time: one year elapsed between the ground-breaking ceremony and the move to the new plant in July 2007. Moving forward, the very first products manufactured in Neuchâtel were delivered to patients in Europe in February 2008. Kyphon received a «Tell Award” for this achievement.

Kyphon was acquired by Medtronic in November 2007 - a great synergy for both companies. Indeed, the distribution network of the global medical technology leader Medtronic allows access to Kyphon’s minimal invasive therapies for many patients around the world. This has brought new dimensions to our business, not only in terms of sales networks, but also in the fields of research and development, marketing and strategy.

In our industry, the certification by the health regulatory authorities of different countries is essential. The Neuchâtel site was certified ISO 13485 in November 2006, FDA registered in December 2008 and registered to the Japanese Health Authority in August 2009. Today, 95% of Medtronic-Kyphon balloons used in the fracture reduction surgery of the spine are manufactured in Neuchâtel. Each step of the manufacturing process is represented there - plastic extrusion, as well as manufacturing operations and assembly using high process technologies are performed on our site, including primary and secondary packaging. We continue the development and industrialisation of new products around our core competencies: manufacturing balloons for reducing bone fractures.

Concerning our role as employers, Medtronic-Kyphon has created 140 jobs in Neuchâtel. With employees from 30 nationalities working together, the environment is intentionally multicultural.Medtronic and Switzerland: a story of trust

Switzerland offers conditions which respond ideally to the requirements of international medical technology companies. The country provides economic, political and social stability as well as a reliable infrastructure and an excellent quality of life. The university and the local labor pool technology provide a highly skilled workforce, confirming the reputation of Swiss quality and precision technology. These were the reasons that led the management of Kyphon to choose Switzerland as a second manufacturing site. Neuchâtel, with its industrial cluster of companies of pharmaceutical and medical devices, as well as efficient links to the airports in Geneva and Zurich quickly became the candidate of choice.

Medtronic’s presence in Switzerland dates back to 1967, when the Swiss sales and services office was created. Meanwhile, Medtronic is present on four sites and represents more than 1200 employees in Switzerland: the main site resides in Tolochenaz (VD) with the headquarters for Europe and Central Asia, the manufacturing entity for implantable pacemakers [Swiss Manufacturing Operations (SMO)] and the European Training Center. The customer service and sales offices for the Swiss market are located in Münchenbuchsee (BE). Medtronic recently acquired Invatec in Frauenfeld (TG), an R&D and production center for cardiovascular products.

Founded in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1949, Medtronic has its roots in the treatment of heart disease. Meanwhile, the company provides a wide range of products and therapies for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, pain and other neurological and spinal disorders. Every 4 seconds, somewhere in the world, another life is improved by a Medtronic product or therapy. Medtronic does business in more than 120 countries and has scientific, manufacturing, educational and sales facilities worldwide. With approximately 40 000 employees around the world, the company’s annual revenue is 15,8 billion dollars. We truly believe that we only are what we accomplish; every day is a challenge that contributes to our health mission and our future.

By Max

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