Cryos was established in 1987 in Aarhus, Denmark, by the founder, Mr Ole Schou (1954). Ole Schou had for a long time had a dream of creating a sperm bank. Ole Schou has a degree as H.D. (Graduate Diploma in Business and Marketing & Administration).
"Cryos" is Greek and means "ice" (from crystallos). The word is also known from "cryobiology". In English a sperm bank is often called a "cryobank".
The office and laboratory were initially established as a service for men who were going to have a vasectomy and for cancer patients who needed to have their sperm frozen before chemotherapy or radiation.
In 1990 the donor program was established and the first portions of donor semen were released and delivered after the quarantine in April 1991. Very quickly demands increased. Initially, clinics in Denmark started receiving semen from Cryos, followed by clinics in Norway, Finland, Iceland, UK, Greece, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, etc. The clinics were particularly satisfied with the high quality of semen resulting in a high pregnancy outcome (between 20-30% per cycle) and the professional service with immediate supply from a relatively high selection of different donors.
In 1994 two new departments were opened in Copenhagen and Odense. At that time Cryos had customers in 19 countries in Europe, Australia, Asia, Africa and America.
In 1995 Cryos started distributing other sperm related products such as preparation media, IUI-catheters, counting chambers, etc. The same year Cryos started its own production of culture media called SpermWash®.
In 2001 Cryos opened a branch in Seatlle, WA, USA called Scandinavian Cryobank. The purpose was to meet the specific US-market criteria and the specific demand for Scandinavian donors. The market in the USA was very different from other markets around the world, because it is not the clinics, but mainly the patients who choose the sperm bank and select the donor. This way patients gain access to donor lists, extended profiles, etc., which could not be organised within the "clinic-only" concept of Cryos. Also in 2001, a new extensive website on www.cryos.dk was introduced with a donor list, product list, prices, and on-line credit card payment.
In 2002 our media products line was organised with production of SpermWash and a new product called SpermFilter® was launched. SpermFilter® is a density gradient media for purification of spermatozoa for IUI and IVF/ICSI. SpermFilter® is a high quality product which is less expensive than competitive products. Also in 2002, our Distributor List was created.
In 2003 SpermFilter® became the leading brand for sperm preparation media in Denmark. The international interest in this product has increased day by day. In 2003 the branch in Seattle, Scandinavian Cryobank was shut down after the managing director Peter Bower, Ph.d was trapped in serious fraud. The branch was reopened in New York later the same year.
In 2005 a new all time updated online Donor Search program (for clinics only) was made with Available Stock per donor showing the different qualities and prices. At the same time an online Pregnancy Reporting page was made.
SpermCryo™ All-round was developed. This freezing medium gives a 30% better survival rate and can be used for freezing of all kinds of semen whether it is oligozoospermia, teratozoospermia, asthenozoospermia, normospermia, raw semen, spermatozoa that has been purified with a swim-up or gradient centrifugation, or testicular aspirated spermatozoa. The product was launced in 2006.
In 2006 the Cryos franchise system was ready. For quite a number of years, Cryos has been working on developing a franchise system, presenting an entire Cryos sperm bank concept. The franchise system contains standard operation procedures, a comprehensive computer system, training courses, a new common website, and other important issues for running a Cryos sperm bank. The idea with this concept is to establish high quality sperm banks internationally based on the concept, know-how, and technology that has been fundamental for Cryos´ success. Due to this Cryos has been divided into two companies: Cryos International (franchisor) and Cryos International - Denmark (franchisee).
In 2006 IUI-ready units became available from Cryos and Cryos started operating with non-anonymous donors. The donor search page on the internet was extended with search for IUI-ready units, donor types (anonymous/non-anonymous) and MOT-qualities. In 2006 Cryos spent a lot of time preparing for the new EU Tissue Directive and sub-directives.
In 2007 the EU-Tissue Directive 2004/23/CE, 2006/17/EC and 2006/86/EC came into force setting standards of quality and safety for the donation, procurement, testing, processing, preservation, storage and distribution (including import and export in/out from EU) of human tissues and cells. Only licensed centres in EU are allowed to handle semen. Cryos International - Denmark licensed to do all activities. Same year Scandinavian Cryobank in New York was changed to a full range Cryos franchise department with laboratory facilities and licensed by New York State department of Health. Instead of just being a distributor of donated semen from Denmark, Cryos International - New York started to have their own donors.
An online Pregnancy Quota program (for clinics only) was published.
In 2007 Cryos delivered donor semen to clinics in more than 60 countries and sperm related products to clinics and distributors in over 70 countries. Cryos may be described as the largest sperm bank in the world with more than 250 donors available and more than 1,200 pregnancies reported every year.
In 2008 increasing demand for donor semen lead us to open a new department in Aalborg - the 3rd largest city of Denmark. More clinical staff was employed in all departments and a search for larger facilities in the main department in Aarhus was started. We found these facilities in June, only 100 meter away from our old address; a whole floor of 1024 sqm. in an old warehouse. The rest of 2008 was used to prepare the construction and rebuilding ready for our move before January 1, 2009. In September we startede a new franchise-department in India.
In 2009 we opened a new department for Private customers. The " American model" was introduced with sale of donor semen directly to private where we previously only was selling to physicians and hospitals. The donor list in the private department is available without password and the donors with extended profiles, baby photos, staff impression, etc. are available. 2009 was a very turbulent year. We had started too many initiatives and was fighting to consolidate the development. At the same time we had staff change in our New York department and production problems in our media factory and we had difficulties to get new staff emploied and trained as quickly as the growth in the organisation and demand increased. Thank to a tremendous effor by all employees and loyalty from our customers, we managed to solve all problems before the end of the year. We also got a wealth of new online facilities, including especially a global pregnancy reporting system which takes into account both national and "fertility tourists" pregnancies.
In 2011/12 we reached more than 500 donors free of quarantine of which nearly 200 with extended profile and nearly 100 Non-anonymous. Delivery of donor semen to more than 70 countries. More than 50% of the orders derives from private. Unfortunately we had to close the India department due to lack of business ground. There is no demand for high quality donor semen in India and export of donated semen has been prohibited by law. The Odense department was closed after 19 years. The facilities were worn down, so we moved the activities to our 3 other departments. We reached 20,000 pregnancies reported. The 1st of November we celebrated our 25th years anniversary.
We will continue to ensure a wide selection of sperm donors of all races and ethnicities, and ensuring the highest level of service which has always been the hallmark of Cryos. Furthermore, we will continue to carry out safe deposit for patients and ensure a selection of the sperm related clinical products and finally maintain and develop our professional knowledge and know-how in the field. In this way we ensure ourselves a place in the community that we are a part of.
The Cryos' policy to support scientific research and development related to sperm and male infertility. Each year provided significant contributions to experimental and research. Over the years, these contributions helped to develop the company and the service provided, in a scientific collaboration of mutual interest.