6 NOVEMBER 2019
Passionate about improving preterm infant wellbeing, Andrew Marshall and a team of engineers and clinicians have created an innovative technology that will protect preterm infants’ delicate skin and help them to breath.
In his research as a PhD candidate in biomedical engineering at the University of Tasmania, and work in a neonatal intensive care unit, Andrew saw first-hand the damaging effects of inadequate respiratory support and excessive contact force on premature infants.
Andrew and the team realised they had the knowledge and skills to address the problem and set to work creating CPAP Buddy, an innovative new neonatal respiratory support technology.
“A great technology developed by engineers or doctors in isolation is almost never the best solution to a medical problem,” says Andrew.
“From the earliest stages of ideation and concept design, a collaborative and diverse team approach, and consultation with end-users is critical.”
Andrew says that understanding the current solutions and why your product doesn’t already exist is the key to developing a solution that really works. This approach has helped Andrew and the team to bring CPAP Buddy to life.
Preterm infants are extremely vulnerable and often need breathing support through a mask. The mask must be carefully adjusted to maintain breathing support, while not damaging infants’ delicate skin.
“This is time consuming and laborious, with potentially catastrophic consequences if not done correctly. The consequences of insufficient respiratory support cost the world economy upwards of $9 billion a year,” says Andrew.
Andrew and the team saw the significance and scale of this problem through analysis of clinical data and feedback from nursing staff.
To help turn this around, the team created CPAP Buddy. A low-cost add-on to existing Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) devices, CPAP Buddy gives direct feedback of the quality of CPAP mask application.
“This gives clinicians and nurses confidence that the mask has been applied correctly and helps them to detect potential issues early,” explains Andrew.
While CPAP Buddy has been designed for neonatal intensive care, it also has applications in adult CPAP use for sleep apnoea.
CPAP Buddy’s potential to improve preterm infant wellbeing made a big impression on judges at the recent MedTech’s Got Talent Challenge Rapid Fire Rounds in Melbourne, delivered by MedTech Actuator.
Andrew was chosen as a finalist and will now work closely with his new mentor, Luke Martin from Tricycle Developments – an award-winning product design studio with a decade of experience in innovation and bringing technically challenging products to life.
In the coming weeks, Luke will help Andrew get ready to battle it out in the Gala Finals on 5 December. On this black-tie night of nights, HealthTech entrepreneurs from across Australia – and for the first time, India – will compete for a share in $50,000 in front of investors, industry experts, government and corporates.
Andrew says that the contacts and networks the team have made through the Challenge have been a great help in developing CPAP Buddy.
“In particular, the assistance from MedTech’s Got Talent partners K&L Gates in developing an IP strategy and advice and mentoring from our industry mentors Tricycle Developments has been invaluable,” says Andrew.
Andrew wholeheartedly recommends the Challenge to HealthTech and MedTech entrepreneurs out there who want to bring their idea to life.
“As full-time engineers, doctors and researchers, the Challenge has provided an ideal and accelerated channel to progress CPAP Buddy,” says Andrew.
“The opportunities for networking and mentoring are hard to come by outside a program like this, especially in regional areas.”
Want to see Andrew deliver his pitch at the Gala Finals? Book your tickets today!
Thank you to our major Challenge partners and sponsors – we couldn’t do this without you: The Federal Government, The Department of Industry, Innovation & Science; The Victorian Government, The Department of Jobs, Precincts & Regions; Global Victoria; LaunchVic; Government of Karnataka; Bangalore Bioinnovation Centre; Johnson & Johnson; Cook Medical; Medtronic; K&L Gates; Vestech; IDE Group; Design + Industry; Tricycle Developments; Ingenuity Electronics Design; Outerspace Design; MiniFAB; LEAP Australia and Wave Digital.