Inaugural 2021 MedTech Actuator Menzies Scholarships announced.

Ten high-potential health, medical and biotechnology researchers have been selected to each receive a 2021 MedTech Actuator Menzies Scholarship – supporting them to develop a career that fuses science, research, and entrepreneurship.

The researchers and scientists are about to embark on a 3-month scholarship, where they will gain knowledge from leading industry experts, work alongside Asia Pacific’s best emerging entrepreneurs and have access to exclusive industry events.

Passionate about innovating to improve and save lives, the scholarship recipients are working in diverse fields spanning obstetrics, neonatal care, assistive reproductive technologies, emergency care, paediatrics, orthopaedic surgery, sexually transmitted infections, personalised precision medicine and more.

Scholarship recipients include:

  • Martina Barzan – Research Fellow, Griffith University
  • Sohyb Basir – Emergency Doctor & GP Trainee, Mater Health
  • Chia-Chi Chien – Chief Scientific Officer, Research Fellow, OminiWell Pty Ltd
  • Julie Dao – PhD candidate, Monash University
  • Alinta Furnell – Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours) (Medical Biotechnology & Microbiology), UNSW Sydney
  • Ethan Grooby – PhD candidate, Monash University
  • Debolina Majumdar – PhD candidate, RMIT University
  • Hope Newman – Master of Reproductive Science student, Monash University
  • Luke Visscher – Doctor, QLD Health; PhD candidate, QUT
  • Ritesh Warty – PhD candidate, Monash University

Scholarship recipients will complete online learning and an intensive sprint alongside Asia Pacific’s best emerging entrepreneurs competing in the MedTech Actuator Origin international pitch competition. Recipients will also watch entrepreneurs pitch in Rapid Fire Rounds and the Gala Finals and will be welcomed into the MedTech Actuator’s Asia-Pacific-wide network that spans the entire commercialisation pipeline.

The industry-led intensive sprint and online course will provide scholarship recipients with a strong foundation in commercialisation. Topics will include intellectual property, pitching, startup 101, finance for beginners, business modelling, design thinking, path-to-market, and market analysis.

The MedTech Actuator Menzies Scholarship is supported by the Menzies Foundation as part of their Entrepreneurship in Science mission in partnership with the MedTech Actuator.

Sign up to our newsletter below and connect with us on Twitter and LinkedIn to follow the journey of scholarship recipients – and to find out how to be a 2022 MedTech Actuator Menzies Scholarship recipient.

RehabSwift advancing a customised brain-computer interface for stroke recovery.

MedTech Actuator startup RehabSwift Pty Ltd is developing a personalised brain-computer interface that revives hand movement after stroke, a leading cause of long-term disability worldwide.

Leveraging the brain’s neuroplasticity, RehabSwift rewires damaged neural pathways between the brain and muscles. The technology records the electrical activity of the patient’s brain through their scalp, detects their intention to move using a novel machine learning algorithm, then transforms this captured intention into the actual movement via robotic hands.

Founder and Managing Director, Dr Sam Darvishi is driven to make a difference to people living with disability.

“I stuttered severely through my childhood and teenage years,” says Sam. “As someone who has lived with disability, I know how hard it is. I’ve always intended to use my knowledge and expertise to ease the burden of disability.”

Sam is well on his way to achieving this. In a proof of principle study, RehabSwift improved the hand motor function of a stroke survivor, who had a stroke 3.5 years prior to the study, by 36% after ten 30-minute therapy sessions.

Sam joined the MedTech Actuator in 2018 to access education and mentorship in developing RehabSwift’s commercialisation strategy. The MedTech Actuator is Asia Pacific’s MedTech, HealthTech and BioTech catalyst, supported by the REDI initiative and powered by MTPConnect.

“Thanks to the MedTech Actuator’s wealth of knowledge and expertise, we were able to establish strategy around clinical trials, product development, regulations, reimbursement, marketing, IP, finance, and go-to-market,” says Sam.

“MedTech startups are different to startups in other industries, as they need to survive with no revenue for at least few years until they reach the market. The MedTech Actuator gave us education and mentorship tailor-made for medical devices – general advice would not have been particularly useful,” says Sam.

In 2020 RehabSwift was awarded an Accelerating Commercialisation Grant of $144,590, supporting Sam to make the innovative device available to stroke survivors.

RehabSwift also received ethics approvals in 2020, and work is ongoing in product development and testing, patient screening and recruitment for clinical trials, and conducting clinical trials to continue refining the device.

“My advice for those on similar pathways is to find your why,” says Sam.

“Knowing why you do what you do can make it much easier to bear inevitable hardship. Otherwise the setbacks may be too tough to withstand.”

To learn more about RehabSwift and follow their journey, go to www.rehabswift.com.

Applications are now open for MedTech Actuator 2021. If you’re ready to radically accelerate your innovation to improve and save lives, find out more and apply.

Apply now

Pronto Bottle raises $175K crowdfunding on Birchal in midst of COVID19.

Form-i-Baby has reached their crowdfunding target on Birchal in the midst of the COVID19 global pandemic, raising AUD$175K and welcoming 140 new investors to advance Pronto Bottle – a world-first self-sterilising baby bottle.

The technology will make bottle feeding safer for babies, save precious time for parents and keep millions of bottles out of landfill every year.

The impressive raise will allow Pronto Bottle to finalise a new and improved prototype and proceed to lab testing, and testing with parents and key opinion leaders. Behind the scenes, the Melbourne-based startup is now raising a larger round of $675K to support subsequent tooling, manufacture, and launch.

Founded by award-winning entrepreneur Shannon Gilleland, the bottle was recently compared to Apple with Alex Zaharov-Reutt from iTWire saying, “If Apple had a baby, Pronto would be it.”

The durable bottle uses the latest ultraviolet light wave technology to self-sterilise at home and on the go, freeing up around an hour every day on bottle preparation and reducing the bottles a family needs down to just one.

Form-i-Baby have invested heavily in market research, prototyping, and testing since the concept was first born. The company has been working on building relationships with manufacturers, distributors, sales, and marketing agents, with discussions now in progress for joint venture opportunities across Australia and Asia.

Shannon joined Asia Pacific’s MedTech, BioTech and HealthTech accelerator, MedTech Actuator in 2019 to gain personal mentoring and technical knowledge on the MedTech industry. Through MedTech Actuator, Shannon gained expertise in manufacturing, marketing, strategy, IP, commercialisation, and leveraged support on fundraising and investor relationships.

Shannon says that the bespoke industry masterclasses, and personal mentorship throughout and after the program have supported her startup journey.

“The intense masterclasses from professionals who have worked in MedTech, BioTech and HealthTech industries, and this unique skill set, would be very difficult to source elsewhere,” says Shannon.

“The close mentorship provides honest feedback on your direction, skills, progress, expertise and weaknesses, ensuring you never get to walk around with your ‘startup blinkers’ on.”

“The immense network of industry contacts that you can tap into is something you wouldn’t be able to access unless you were in the industry yourself for 20+ years, and even then, it wouldn’t be as diverse.”

Applications are now open for MedTech Actuator 2021. If you’re ready to radically accelerate your innovation to improve and save lives, find out more and apply.

Apply now

Next generation tissue building & regenerative medicine for neural repair.

Inaugural MedTech Actuator Menzies Fellow Associate Professor Jeremy Crook is developing a world-first neural repair medical technology to improve the lives of people living with neural tissue damage as a result of illness or trauma.

Neurons or nerve cells are key players in our brains and nervous system. Everything that we think, feel, and do requires the work of neurons and their support cells. Our complex neural networks make it possible for information to flow between different areas of our brain, spinal cord and connect to the rest of our body. Without them, we could not receive sensory information from the world around us or control our muscles and organs.

When nerve cells are damaged, whether as a result of trauma, stroke, tumour, or other illnesses, individuals often face long-lasting or lifelong physical and personal challenges.

But Australian researcher Associate Professor Jeremy Crook is working to change this with next generation tissue building and regenerative medicine for neural repair. Jeremy was recently appointed as one of two inaugural MedTech Actuator Menzies Fellows to help take him and his team there, faster.

“As a MedTech Actuator Menzies Fellow I will focus on translating our work on electric tissue engineering to a healthcare outcome,” says Jeremy.

“The fellowship is an opportunity for me to learn from leading experts in MedTech commercialisation, as well as connect with others in the broader ecosystem. By increasing our commercialisation focus now, I hope to accelerate translation of our world-first wireless electroceutical for neural repair.”

The fellowship complements recently awarded funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council to further develop their technology through pre-clinical testing. The work was also recently awarded the inaugural Research Australia 2019 Health and Medical Research Frontiers Research Award.

“Our work has now progressed to an advanced propriety electrostimulation platform for 3D bench-top tissue building and within-body tissue repair,” says Jeremy.

Jeremy is Chief Investigator for the Synthetic Biosystems theme of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science, and Principal Fellow at the University of Wollongong – home of the Centre and the Intelligent Polymer Research Institute.

Jeremy and his team’s research integrates technology, stem cells, biomaterials, 3D bioprinting and bioelectrics, and strengthens Australia’s position as a global leader in tissue engineering and electroceuticals for advanced research and medicine.

The MedTech Actuator Menzies Fellowships are valued at $70,000 each and will provide Jeremy with tailored mentoring from commercialisation experts, a $20,000 stipend and access to the MedTech Actuator™ – Asia Pacific’s MedTech catalyst.

Jeremy says that he is excited to learn what it takes to bring a medical technology innovation to market.

“The fellowship will be important for achieving my aspirations to translate what began as an idea conceived by myself and team member Dr Eva Tomaskovic-Crook into a clinically useful medical technology,” says Jeremy.

The MedTech Actuator Menzies Fellowship is a partnership between the Menzies Foundation and the MedTech Actuator, supported by the Menzies Foundation as part of their Entrepreneurship in Science mission.

Sign up to our newsletter below and connect with us on Twitter and LinkedIn to follow Jeremy’s journey – and stay in the loop on how to be a part of the 2022 MedTech Actuator Menzies Fellowship.