AI technology reducing discomfort for patients during childbirth.

A traumatic childbirth drives MedTech Actuator alumna, Cailin Ng – CEO and Co-Founder of Singapore-based HiCura Medical – to advance an AI-powered technology that can significantly reduce discomfort and risks for women around the world.

During caesarean birth and vaginal birth women often endure painful repeated needles for spinal anaesthesia, and risk complications such as nerve injury – and in rare cases, paralysis.

HiCura’s artificial intelligence-powered imaging assistant, uSINE reduces pain and risks by delivering spinal anaesthesia in the right location, at the right angle, the first time. One study revealed that doctors were able to achieve a first attempt success rate of 92 per cent using uSINE, far higher than the global first attempt success rate of 50 to 60 per cent.

“Women all over the world choose epidural to relieve their pain during childbirth. I truly hope my technology will help them, so they do not have the traumatic experience I had,” says Cailin.

HiCura joined MedTech Actuator – Asia Pacific’s MedTech, HealthTech and BioTech accelerator in 2020 to connect with Australian hospitals and investor networks. 

“As a startup in Singapore, the MedTech Actuator is helping us to establish important connections in Australia’s MedTech network,” says Cailin.

“We identified Australia as a potential market to expand into, as we saw that the adoption of MedTech innovation in Australia’s hospitals and investor sentiment is very positive. I would definitely recommend MedTech Actuator to other Singapore MedTech startups.”

HiCura’s biggest challenge was commercialisation.

“The MedTech industry is complex with many stakeholders. You have to consider the hospital, doctors, patients, insurance companies, and regulatory compliance,” says Cailin. 

“Unlike any consumer or industrial product where you can ‘test’ the market by selling and revising the product, the route to commercialisation for a MedTech device is a long and arduous one involving clinical trials and regulatory approval.”

The MedTech Actuator supported HiCura through this challenge, and the company has now validated the product and developed a regulatory strategy.

The HiCura team found the experience of being surrounded by a community of MedTech startups on the same journey very valuable.

“Having friends around to listen is very helpful as the world of MedTech startups can be stressful. We could share our joys and frequent challenges,” says Cailin.

www.hicuramedical.com

Ventora Medical Co-Founders honoured in 2021 Forbes 30 Under 30.

Congratulations to MedTech Actuator alumni Amy Yu and Edward Buijs, co-founders of Melbourne-based startup Ventora Medical, on being honoured in the 2021 Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia Healthcare & Science list.

Edward and Amy were selected out of 2,500 nominees for their work and achievements at Ventora Medical. The Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia Healthcare & Science list recognises young entrepreneurs, physicians, researchers and academics who are seeking to change the future of healthcare.

“Amy and I are honoured to be recognised for the work we are doing at Ventora and are incredibly grateful to those who have supported us on the journey thus far,” says Edward.

“The nominees on this year’s list have all overcome challenges presented by COVID-19 and shown incredible drive and commitment to improving the future of healthcare and science,” adds Amy.

The 2021 Forbes 30 Under 30 list had a particular emphasis on perseverance, with the honourees showing their determination to grow their businesses and raise funding in the midst of the COVID-19 global pandemic.

“We are inspired by the work of the other nominees and are as motivated as ever to commercialise our product and impact the future of neonatal care,” says Edward.

In 2019, Ventora Medical joined the MedTech Actuator – an industry-led, venture-backed program that aggressively funds and accelerates medical, health and biological technology startups.

The MedTech Actuator’s tailored mentorship, commercialisation curriculum and network has helped the team to secure seed funding, develop a to-scale proof of concept device, submit a PCT patent application and close their angel round in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The investment is making it possible for Ventora Medical to advance their technology that helps premature babies to breathe. Backed by the Walker Group and MedTech Actuator partner Artesian, their capital raise attracted coverage in The Australian Business Review, the Herald Sun and AusBiz StartUp Daily, and brings their total funding to date to $1.25M.

“We are really excited to see what the future holds for Ventora,” says Amy.

The MedTech Actuator is proud to work with the best of the best health innovation founders. 2021 is the third year that our alumni have been honoured in the Forbes 30 Under 30 list, with Stelect Founder & CEO Elise Sutherland making the list in 2019 and Navi Medical Technologies Co-Founder and COO, Shing Yue Sheung in 2018.

www.ventoramedical.com

Making it possible for seniors to live better longer.

MedTech Actuator alumnus Gabriel is developing technology that delivers more proactive and integrated care to the elderly at home, hospitals and aged care facilities by helping family, clinicians and carers to be in the right place, at the right time, with the right support.

“We founded our family business together as Dad is getting older, and didn’t want to be a burden on us as he ages,” says Gabriel Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer, Maria Crews.

Maria, her brother, and father looked around the world and found that there was no complete, reliable system that would provide the level of care and protection that they wanted for their father, and that he wanted for himself.

“So we set out to create the ultimate solution,” says Maria. Gabriel helps to prevent serious complications experienced by the elderly including falls, bedsores and eloping from buildings.

In one trial, Gabriel found that an aged care resident had spent two hours alone on the bathroom floor after a fall and eventually managed to return to bed.

“When we spoke to the site, they had no record of that fall having occurred – but now we can provide real-time tools to understand and respond with the care that is required.”

Maria recognises that people can be hesitant to ask for help and that the elderly are no exception, fearing that it may lead to life in an aged care home.

“That’s why everything that we do is not only proactive, it’s also passive. The person doesn’t have to do anything, nor do their family, clinicians and carers – we do it all for them. And we’re doing it in a way that protects and preserves their dignity.”

This inspired the name, Gabriel. “It’s like having a guardian angel looking out for you. The system keeps an eye on you or your loved one, patient or resident, and looks after everything for you.”

Maria’s MedTech Actuator experience and networks are helping to bring Gabriel’s technology to people around the world faster.

“The MedTech Actuator built our understanding of navigating the MedTech landscape – from regulatory environments, to rules of engagement, networks, key players and the right people to talk to,” says Maria.

www.ourgabriel.com

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.

MedTech Actuator applications now open

Applications are now open for MedTech Actuator – Asia Pacific’s MedTech Catalyst.

The MedTech Actuator’s specialised acceleration model surrounds you with the support you need to bring your MedTech, HealthTech or BioTech innovation to the patients and clinicians who need it most.

Through MedTech Actuator’s intensive mentorship, industry collaboration, up to AUD$200K initial capital injection and capital raising support, you can achieve in 15 months what can typically take 3 years or more.

Embedded in the MedTech Actuator™ ecosystem, you’ll radically advance your technology development, raise seed capital, and build critical business and management skills. From here you’ll be primed and ready to grow your venture even further – including raising series A funding, commencing clinical trials, gaining regulatory approvals, and moving to at-scale manufacturing, and market launch.

Integrated across Asia Pacific, the industry-led MedTech Actuator will open an unrivalled network to you, including 85 partners and 75 mentors from some of the largest names in health innovation spanning:

  • multi-national corporations
  • hospitals and clinicians
  • investor groups and VCs
  • professional service partners
  • universities and research institutions
  • product development firms.

You’ll join an alumni network of the brightest emerging startups from across Asia Pacific. Our networks are your networks as you scale up, prepare for exit and beyond.

In 2020 amidst the COVID19 pandemic, we saw MedTech Actuator startups secure impressive capital raises with high profile investors and deliver successful equity crowdfunding campaigns that pushed beyond their raise target.

If you’re a clinician, researcher, student or other changemaker with big plans to radically accelerate your medical, health or biological technology prototype or proof-of-concept in 2021, find out more about MedTech Actuator and apply here.

Apply now

Supporting people with low vision to live their life the way they choose

MedTech Actuator Menzies Fellow and CueSleeve co-founder Dr Chris McCarthy is working to make it easier for people living with low vision and neurocognitive disorders to do what they want and love to do.

It can be challenging for people living with low vision to identify and move towards objects in their everyday life – whether at home or getting around on public transport, dining and more. For people living with neurocognitive disorders such as traumatic brain injury, movement to interact with their world can also be a significant challenge.

“Through this technology we aim to provide a low-cost assistive aid for people with low vision, and an accessible therapeutic aid for rehabilitation of hand-eye coordination in people living with low vision and neurocognitive disorders,” says Chris.

“The MedTech Actuator Menzies Fellowship will provide both the financial support and mentorship we need to develop and commercialise CueSleeve.”

The first prototype is the result of years of hard work from Chris’ PhD student and co-founder Deepa Prabhu, and the CueSleeve team including Mehedi Hasan, Dr Clare MacMahon (La Trobe University) and Dr Lisa Wise.

“CueSleeve is a wearable and flexible sleeve that computes and then delivers vibration-based cues to the user’s forearm skin, guiding them towards objects that they are interested in looking at more closely, touching or picking up,” says Chris.

CueSleeve detects and tracks the objects with sensors embedded within the sleeve and a head-mounted camera using advanced computer vision.

A Senior Lecturer in Computer Science at Swinburne University of Technology, Chris has worked at the forefront of prosthetic vision with Bionic Vision Australia and in developing a robotic aid for paediatric rehabilitation – now deployed at The Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne.

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

“I am excited to learn about entrepreneurship and business from the experts, and to bring this project, already years in the making, out of the lab and into the hands of people we believe it can truly benefit.”

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 Chris’ journey – and stay in the loop on how to be a part of the 2022 MedTech Actuator Menzies Fellowship.

Researchers join inaugural MedTech Actuator Menzies Fellowship

Congratulations to Dr Chris McCarthy and Associate Professor Jeremy Crook on their appointment as inaugural MedTech Actuator Menzies Fellows.

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

The fellowship unlocks the potential of Australia’s world-class research and researchers, particularly in the areas of human health, medicine, and biotechnology. Through the fellowship, researchers will fuse their background with new commercial expertise from industry’s leading minds to improve and save lives.

Chris is a Senior Lecturer in Computer Science at Swinburne University of Technology, an Honorary Research Fellow at the Bionics Institute and has worked at the forefront of pioneering technology. This includes Bionic Vision Australia and a robotic aid for paediatric rehabilitation – now deployed at The Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne. Jeremy is an Associate Professor and Principal Fellow at the University of Wollongong and Chief Investigator and Deputy Theme Leader of Synthetic Biosystems in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science.

As a fellow Chris will advance CueSleeve, a haptic training device for improving eye-hand coordination in individuals with visual and neuro-cognitive disorder. Jeremy will be advancing a wireless electroceutical device for neural repair.

“As an academic researcher, I love solving problems but get most satisfaction in seeing theoretical solutions translate to real outcomes. This fellowship will give me the mentorship, focus and structured support I need to truly realise this for CueSleeve,” says Chris.

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 merely an idea conceived by myself and team member Dr Eva Tomaskovic-Crook into a clinically useful medical technology,” says Jeremy.

Chris and Jeremy will initially embark on six months of mentorship, working with experts within the MedTech Actuator and along the commercialisation pipeline.

During the second six-month phase, Chris and Jeremy will take part in a tailored version of our flagship, industry-led accelerator. They will learn how to navigate key commercialisation milestones, from developing regulatory and reimbursement strategies to product development, approaching investors, and building a team.

Importantly, they’ll learn with – and from – other MedTech, HealthTech and BioTech founders from across Asia Pacific.

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 Chris and Jeremy’s journey – and stay in the loop on how to be a part of the 2022 MedTech Actuator Menzies Fellowship.