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Erwin Hochmair started research on cochlear implants (CIs) in 1975, together with Ingeborg Desoyer (now Ingeborg Hochmair-Desoyer). In 1979 they continued their research at Stanford University, and in 1981–1989 they were consultants for 3M in St. Paul. In 1989 they established the MED-EL Company in Innsbruck, and it is now, with approximately 1,500 employees, the world’s second largest CI manufacturer.
After earning the venia legendi in 1980 he continued research on CIs at the Technical University of Vienna, Hochmair was appointed full professor of applied physics at the University of Innsbruck in 1985. In 1993–1995 he was dean at the Faculty of Natural Sciences. He has been emeritus professor since 2009.
In his early career he was research assistant at TU Vienna’s Institute of Physical Electronics, where he pursued research on electron beams for microwave applications, on semiconductor devices, and on circuit theory. He was especially involved in the early stages of the application of complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) technology to analog circuits. In 1970–1972 he was a research associate at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
He studied electrical engineering at TU Vienna (Dipl.Ing. 1964, Dr.techn. 1967), and in 2004 he received an honorary doctorate in medicine from the Technical University of Munich. He is the (co-)author of over 100 scientific articles and more than 50 patents.