Medikro Oy manufactures PC-based medical equipment for pulmonary diagnostics. Their main product is the spirometer, a device measuring lung capacity. Once a one-man engineering company, Medikron has grown into an international business employing 32 people. Medikron’s history has been thriving hand in hand with the advances in computer technology.
Medikro was born at the end of 70’s out of the defence forces need to have the lungs of their divers tested. Mikko Eloranta, father of the current CEO Tuukka Eloranta, was doing his military service at the time when the defence forces called for bids for the design of a lung diagnostics device. Still young and unexperienced at the time, Eloranta was, however, confident that he would be able to meet the challenge.
Until then, the only system available had been a simple mechanical, bellows and cylinder type spirometer, where expiration of air through a hose into a cylinder made the bell of the spirometer move upwards causing movement of pen on a chart paper. It took the medical staff about 30-40 minutes to read the results. Eloranta thought that automatization of the device was a must to get rid of mechanical calculation. He was awarded the contract and designed the first computer based spirometer.
Even today, 40 years later, equipment manufactured by Medikro is based on the original product. During 10 generations, the spirometer has been developed from the first prototype to the-state-of-the-art product it is today. Continuous advances in the information technology together with the widespread availability of mobile and cloud services have given a healthy boost to product development. Tuukka Eloranta says that, over the years, the spirometer market has turned from local to international.
“Domestic sales must be accompanied by sales in the international markets to increase revenue to cover the cost of product development.”
Tuukka Eloranta says that tightening requirements for the quality and testing of medical diagnostics equipment and introduction of a new computer operating system in the 90’s made Medikro decide to trim their product portfolio. At the peak, they had as many as 7 different medical products in their portfolio.
“We decided to focus on spirometers instead of more specialized products, because spirometers are well-known and in high demand. Specialized products would have required international market qualification. Looking back now, it was the right decision.”
According to Eloranta, the secret behind the success of Medikro’s products is the design principle: a quality product as simple as possible. Everything works with software, which makes the system easy to update. This allows introduction of new features to the customer’s system even years after the original purchase decision.
“Medical technology start-ups are well advised to bear in mind the requirements of medical standards. Sometimes testing and market qualification may take longer than the actual product development, and by the time the testing phase is reached, there might not be any money left.”
According to Eloranta, active product development and a positive spirit of innovation are vital for the growth of a technology company. Underneath successful business activities lies a sound product know-how, supplemented by other elements such as smart product support and sales organization.