27 Jan 10 years of ARTIQO endoprosthetics
Follow your beliefs
Staying true to oneself and following one’s own convictions: 10 years ago this was the deciding factor in founding the company ARTIQO and can also be seen as the leitmotif for the product developments and for the company’s market presence. On the occasion of the company’s anniversary, Ulrich Bücken, Managing Director of ARTIQO GmbH, reviews the first 10 years in an interview and remembers how it all began. And he gives an outlook on the development steps awaiting the company in Lüdinghausen.
Why did you found a company in the field of endoprosthetics in 2013? Wasn’t the “bear skin” already distributed back then?
Ulrich Bücken: That’s what many of our companions asked us at the time: What made you decide to found ARTIQO? The reactions ranged from complete incomprehension to great joy.
Anyone familiar with the endoprosthetic market knows how tough it is. Endoprosthetics has become a “me too” market. Many providers solve the same issues in a similar way.
The justification of the company ARTIQO was therefore never in “me too”. We were convinced that there was a need for a company that tackled well-known issues differently – and consistently.
Today I see with joy and gratitude the position we have achieved: with the right topics, the right clinical partners and suppliers and last but not least with the right employees.
What did founding the company mean for you personally?
Ulrich Bücken: I’ve been in the industry since 1989 and have always been very close to the products and customers – first as a product manager, then as technical manager and after the acquisition of Plus Orthopedics GmbH by Smith & Nephew as Managing Director with a focus on product management, marketing and development.
A corporation just wasn’t the place I thought was right for me and my issues. I had a desire to follow my own beliefs. This was the deciding factor in founding the company.
That was also the case for the colleagues, who have all been in the market for a similar length of time and who now form the ARTIQO team. At that time there was no conversation without the sentence: “If we could work the way we think it is right again: What could we achieve?” We brought that back to life: We are very close to the customer and close to the product.
I don’t know how seriously we were taken as a company in the early days. However, we have always been accepted as individuals with our expertise and beliefs. We are now valued for what we do and how we do it.
If you think back: how did you start 10 years ago?
Ulrich Bücken: At that time we were able to take over two established products with unique selling propositions: the ANA.NOVA® Hybrid Socket and the CCG® Cerclage System. In the corporate environment, they were just two products out of many, while we had the opportunity to give them a new focus.
Our very first order came in on January 2nd, 2013 with the order of a cerclage system – and there was a lot of cheering. In the first four weeks, the main task was to visit all users of the hybrid pan and to re-equip them. We are talking about 80 instrument trays that we delivered to homes nationwide in a very short time. We were very well prepared. The partnership with ImplanTec in Austria went extremely well. Nobody believed us capable of that. That certainly laid the basis for trust.
The next step was to establish our new products in order to become a system provider. In 2015 we were approved as a manufacturer for class III products, in December of the same year the product approval of the A2® socket and in spring 2016 that of the 4-motion® knee joint took place.
Today I am amazed that we never questioned each other. We had a great deal of lightness during this initial period and always had the firm conviction that we would be successful with our concept.
Close to the customer and the product: Is that how you would describe ARTIQO’s corporate philosophy?
Ulrich Buecken: Yes. It is values such as honesty and reliability that we as founders would like to give a new home to. By honesty I mean that we speak to each other and to the customers. For example, I don’t want to sugarcoat things that don’t work. You can also say: We are authentic in our market presence. By reliability I mean both our behavior in customer service and our reliability in the supply chain.
We are always in close personal contact with our customers and reference centers and are therefore very close to our products and solutions that we offer. This is the only way we can offer better solutions to existing problems based on clinical experience and results. Other providers also have good implants. We set out to do better.
This requires employees with a high level of professional experience, who know the business and who have a certain human maturity. I can certify that to all of our employees. I think that is an important added value for our customers.
We not only want to offer added value to our patients and customers, but also to our employees. Working time is lifetime. Our people should have fun doing a good job. The added value for the investors actually comes last. We don’t have to create a return on investment in 3-5 years, and we’re not driven by quarterly figures either. We want to develop and establish the company and our products over the long term.
ARTIQO is a German medium-sized company that produces mainly in Germany and partly in Europe. How important is this aspect for you?
Ulrich Bücken: For the development and manufacture of our products, we mainly work together with partners who are based in Germany, Austria and France, among other places. This is very important for us as a company. It makes it easier for us to communicate and collaborate. At the same time, we know that in this way we can not only meet the highest quality standards, but also high European social and environmental standards.
For us and our customers, this also means that the logistical routes are shorter. The kilometers that our products have to travel to the customer are a fraction of the distance that often occurs in internationally operating corporations. With us, no container can fall off the ship. There is at most a delay due to a traffic jam on the A2.
What outlook would you like to give for the next 10 years, for endoprosthetics and for ARTIQO?
Ulrich Bücken: The European regulation on medical devices, MDR, will soon come into force. ARTIQO has been certified as a manufacturer since last autumn and as a company meets all requirements. Our products are also in the ongoing certification process. So we are very confident about the future as far as our own portfolio is concerned, and at the same time we are curious to see how extensive the product streamlining in endoprosthetics will be.
For endoprosthetics, as for any other medical discipline, data is the currency of the future. Not only with a view to the MDR, it was clear to us from day one of our company’s founding the importance of preclinical studies and clinical observations. That’s why we initiated studies right from the start and thus earned a very good reputation among opinion leaders. For further development, we are working on prospective study designs to support the registry data.
Another outlook for ARTIQO: We are increasingly being asked to export our products from abroad. France will be one of the first export markets. This is a great endorsement for our product portfolio and our market presence. ARTIQO will become more and more European.
The interview was conducted by Michaela Rau, freelance editor.