Firm aims to transform ear surgery

AventaMed has developed a device which aims to take grommet surgery out of operating theatres and turn it into a quick procedure that can take place in a consultant’s offices. The elective surgery involves the use of small tubes.

Firm aims to transform ear surgery

After two years of development and testing, AventaMed has perfected a hand-held device which can be used by a consultant to insert a grommet in an ear in five minutes. This replaces the traditional treatment for glue ear and recurrent ear infections in children which involves a half-hour long operation under anaesthetic, says company CEO and co-founder Olive O’Driscoll.

She says one of the key selling points for this new technology is it is safer and reduces the cost of grommet insertion.

“The cost of this surgery for hospitals is $3,000. With the AvantaMed V-Tube the procedure will cost less than half that. The other selling point is that it improves safety because it doesn’t involve the risk of an operation,”she says.

Ms O’Driscoll and John Vaughan, co founder and chief technical officer, are now ready to take their device out of the laboratory and put it into clinical testing with a view to launching it on global markets in 2016.

“In the region of 7% of all children, two million a year, need grommets and the global market for grommet procedures is now worth $5bn (€4bn),” says Ms O’Driscoll.

A win in the regional stage of the InterTrade Ireland Seedcorn competition this month has provided the company with €20,000 prize money and raised AventaMed’s profile with investors at an opportune time.

Ms O’Driscoll says significant funding will now be required to meet regulatory requirements.

The technology for the device is licenced from Cork Institute of Technology and was developed by Ms O’Driscoll and Mr Vaughan while they worked at the CIT’s Medical Engineering Design and Innovation Centre.

Both are biomedical engineers who previously worked in the medical device industry and who were bitten by the entrepreneurial bug. “While working at CIT we observed grommet surgery — it seemed overly cumbersome and we felt that it could be made simpler,’’ says Ms O’Driscoll.

Funding from the Enterprise Ireland commercialisation programme in 2012 helped get the project off the ground. A year into the research the two set up the new company and began researching the market and drafting a business plan.

The device has been tested on cadavers and samples are now being made by a company in the west of Ireland.

“We have been working with doctors in the US, the UK and Europe and have done six months of testing,” says Ms O’Driscoll.

The next step is clinical trials, ISO 13485 certification and the hiring of additional staff to include staff with R&D, clinical and regulatory skills.

Next year AventaMed will start clinical trials and work on securing regulatory approval while also focusing on securing recognition in the medical community by attending conferences and publishing the test results with a view to getting it printed in medical journals. Meanwhile, the company will also build up a network of distributors selling to ENT surgeons as well as hospitals.

The company will be seeking high-potential start-up status from Enterprise Ireland. As one of four regional finalists in the early start-up category in the InterTrade Ireland All Island Seedcorn Competition, AventaMed is this week in with a shot at winning the €100,000 prize.




CIT, Cork.


Olive O’Driscoll.




Medical device for grommet insertion.


Reducing the cost of ear surgery by half in a straightforward procedure is the focus of AventaMed, says Trish Dromey

Grommet surgery seemed cumbersome. We felt it could be simpler

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