DATUM DENTAL’s General Manager “WHILE LARGE SCALE CORPORATIONS WERE KEEPING A LOW PROFILE, WE EXPANDED OUR ACTIVITIES.”
Globes article, February 19, 2021, Gali Weinrab*
Datum Dental was founded on the basis of ColBar, which was shut down by Johnson & Johnson. The company is now being sold to the leading dental implants corporation, Dentsply Sirona. The company’s sale value was estimated at approx. $100 Million. “The acquisition brought us to a peak, but this is only the beginning: as part of Dentsply Sirona we are on the fast track to many more peaks”.
Daniel Levitats, General Manager, Datum Dental / Photo: Shlomi Yossef
Veterans in the biomed industry may remember the impressive exit, at the time, of ColBar. Purchased by Johnson & Johnson for 160 Million USD in 2006, ColBar specialized in the field of collagen. A few years later, Johnson & Johnson shut ColBar’s manufacturing plant down after not finding a buyer and sent its employees home. But ColBar’s original management team wasn’t about to throw in the towel. Leveraging their purchase of ColBar’s intellectual property in the field of dental medicine, the team founded Datum Dental.
Now it has come to a full circle with the sale of Datum Dental to one of the largest dental companies in the world, Denstsply Sirona. Based on estimates, the company’s value for the purpose of the sale is estimated at 100 Million USD. This is Dentsply Sirona’s second acquisition in Israel in recent years, following its 2016 acquisition of the dental implants company, MIS, for 375 Million USD.
“I don’t see this as closure, but rather as a milestone on the road,” says Daniel Levitats, Datum Dental’s Chief Commercial Officer who has been selected to head the company under Denstply Sirona following the acquisition. “The acquisition brought us to a peak, but this is only the beginning: as part of Dentsply Sirona we are on the fast track to many more peaks. If we avoid mistakes and continue to move forward, we will see this amazing organization we have built develop and prosper.”
Levitats is referring to Dentsply Sirona giving him a mandate to use Datum Dental as the foundation for building the dental regenerative field within the corporation. Dentsply Sirona has established a division to be led by Levitats, which is expected to grow organically within Datum Dental’s area of activity, as well as through additional mergers and acquisitions. Currently the company employs 55 staff members in Israel and runs a manufacturing plant in Lod. Levitats will manage Datum Dental and simultaneously serve as VP of Global Regenerative Platform at Dentsply Sirona. “Assuming that our plans materialize, this division can be a leader in the dental regenerative field within 5 to 6 years.” In addition to the plant in Lod, construction of a new plant in the Shfela area is on the cards”.
ColBar was founded on the basis of a new technology for the production of collagen-based biomaterials. Collagen is a protein, commonly found in the human body – in skin and bones, amongst others. Collagen implant procedures are well-known in aesthetic medicine. Collagen is a material that serves as scaffolding, on which other soft and hard tissues can take shape.
Datum’s product is a collagen biomaterial cross-linked with sugar, which when implanted in a bone deficient jaw after a tooth extraction or injury, the bone can heal over the scaffolding and regenerate. A tooth implant can be affixed within this bone – which is the most lucrative and high value business of most dental companies, including Dentsply Sirona. The corporation has many types of implants, including the activity acquired from the Israeli company MIS. However, to-date, says Levitats, Dentsply Sirona had not focused on tissue reconstruction, which is the area it wishes to develop.
“ColBar had two products, for the dental sector and the medical aesthetics sector. Johnson & Johnson were more interested in the medical aesthetics product when it acquired ColBar in 2006. However, they eventually decided to discontinue with it.”
Datum Dental was founded in 2012 by ColBar veterans – Itay Itzahky, who was ColBar’s CEO, Dr. Arie Goldlost, who was ColBar’s VP R&D and Dr. Yuval Zubery, Periodontist. Datum Dental acquired ColBar’s intellectual property from Johnson & Johnson, and based on those, founded a new company.
“The funds for its operation were raised from private investors and an American strategic partner, and a new plant was established in Lod, Israel. ColBar’s plant, which was sold to Johnson & Johnson, was probably dismantled earlier. The company developed three ground-breaking soft and hard tissue regenerative products. These were solid products, powered by the GLYMATRIX® Core Technology that matured over 20 years, supported by many published articles. The commercial launch of both existing and new products developed by the company, took place in 2014 and early 2015.
Levitats joined the company in 2017 to lead its commercial activity. “I was a Hi-Tech professional all my life, but my father was a dental surgeon, and my mother ran his clinic for a while. So the ‘dental talk’ was spoken at home. I sometimes went to his clinic to see him operate. I’m not sure why I took interest in that. Probably since he was good and professional in what he did”. After several years in Hi-Tech companies, Levitats became familiar also with the medical device sector, acting as the VP of Sales Operations of the aesthetics company Syneron Candela in the USA.
Levitats began expanding Datum Dental’s distribution agreements, which until then operated in 20 countries, into dozens of additional countries. In 2018, a distribution and partnership agreement was signed with Dentsply Sirona in the US, which preceded the acquisition transaction. It was a non-exclusive distribution agreement, while Datum Dental continued to have distribution agreements with a range of additional entities.
“To my great satisfaction, we became a profitable company over the years. We reached the COVID-19 year with sales in 45 countries around the world. In each country, we searched for the distributor that would boost our operations. We constitute several percent of the world market at present. We launched additional products and we also have 5-10 new products that we can release over the next few years.
“We did significant work in order to reach key opinion leaders in the market. We succeeded in putting together a family of doctors, that are connected to this technology, and committed to it”.
What caused the WOW effect for these doctors?
“Our product line consists of both products that are bone substitutes and products that serve as a membrane, that the bone can grow over. Our source material simulates the tooth and the jaw in a manner that the body identifies them as integral units, an imitation of the natural processes. Other types of collagen result in a texture that does not resemble real bone. All the jaw filling collagen materials, including ours, are made of a processed live tissue – can be from porcine, beef or even from a human source (i.e., from cadavers).
“We manufacture our products from porcine tendons and have better results than other companies who produce collagen from live tissues in various forms of extraction, that lead to the formation of source material remnants”.
It sounds like someone ground a sausage and placed it in your tooth. And it may be a human-origin sausage.
“You can say that. Compared to them, we actually bring the material into a molecular level, and then reconstruct it using our method. Our product was even granted a Kosher certificate, despite being made from porcine, since it is completely different than the original material. This is also the reason the material doesn’t trigger patients’ immune system in any way, and nothing interrupts the real bone from restructuring over it”.
According to Levitats, the result is a tissue that is highly supportive of new bone growth. “Another advantage is the ease of use, which opens the door for doctors who previously may have refrained from entering this field. Not all doctors today perform bone filling after removing teeth, and patients don’t always know to ask during the procedure if a socket preservation was performed. But if there is no bone graft filling in the socket, it may be difficult to insert an implant in that location later”. As stated, Datum Dental has both bone graft materials and membranes, which form a good environment for hard and soft tissue growth. “This is a degradable material, but only at a moderate pace. It does not degrade even if the stitches move, and the product remains exposed. No other collagen materials can withstand exposure over days”.
Levitats says that the COVID-19 year was actually successful for the company. ”While industry giants took their heads down and tried to understand what to do with their staff and large plants – while they lowered their marketing budgets in order to survive, we came together and increased our activity.
“This was a time in which clinicians couldn’t even practice, and patients avoided visiting clinics. And indeed, for three months, the revenues took a dive of dozens of percents without any outlook for getting out of the crisis. But during this period, after two or three months of furlough, we decided to bring the production team back to work. Simultaneously, the commercial team began releasing stacks of educational webinars to the entire world, showcasing well-known global dental specialists, who sat at home and had nothing to do. We talked with key opinion leaders, whom we had to hunt for only a year before, and suddenly were free to talk to us. That’s when we took over the arena, at the most critical time, and created unparallel awareness.
“The distributors kept their head under water. Some shifted to sell masks during this period. They told themselves (and us) – “How and when will we sell dental products?” And they saw us staying on track, working even harder.
“The second part of the year took on a different form altogether. We came close to meeting 2020’s goals. Despite losing a quarter. We continued our double-digit growth. This trend made a significant contribution to the acquiring company’s decision, who after a period of negotiations decided in September 2020 that they want to proceed and formalize the relationship. Dentsply Sirona is a corporation with activities in all areas of dental medicine: Orthodontics, dental implants and scanning systems. They had a weak spot in the area of tissue regeneration, but then it became apparent that the increase in sale of regenerative products, leads to the increase in sale of dental implants, which is their main business. When they saw our performance in 2020, it sealed the deal successfully”.
*This is a translation of the original article, published in the Hebrew version of Globes on February 19, 2021.