Ventora Medical closes investment round during COVID19.

MedTech Actuator startup Ventora Medical has successfully closed its angel investment round in the midst of the COVID19 global pandemic. The new investment will make it possible for Ventora Medical to advance their technology that helps premature babies to breathe.

Backed by the Walker Group and MedTech ActuatorTM partner Artesian, this latest capital raise has attracted coverage in The Australian Business Review, the Herald Sun and AusBiz StartUp Daily, and brings their total funding to date to $1.25M.

The new round will allow the team to deliver crucial work including a preclinical study in late 2020 with the Medical Device Partnering Program, a clinical pilot study in early 2021 and further development of an alpha prototype.

The breathing support that clinicians give to babies born prematurely plays a critical role in their survival, length of stay in neonatal intensive care and long-term health. Ventora Medical’s continuous airway pressure monitoring device will help clinicians to administer this vital breathing support with greater precision.

Non-invasive breathing support methods are designed to help babies breathe by keeping their lungs inflated. However, due to unaccounted for leaks in the system, there is no way of knowing the actual pressure being delivered to the lungs. Clinicians must therefore rely on clinical signs and symptoms when setting the pressure, which can often be delayed and confusing.

Ventora Medical’s device will make this process easier, improve the accuracy of breathing support, reduce the incidence and impact of further breathing complications, and save hospitals time and money by reducing the patient’s length of stay.

To learn more about Ventora Medical and follow their journey visit www.ventoramedical.com.

Navi Medical Technologies awarded NHMRC grant

Congratulations to MedTech Actuator alumnus Navi Medical Technologies, awarded an NHMRC Development Grant worth almost $900,000. 

The NHMRC’s Development Grant scheme helps take research to the proof-of-concept stage, a critical step on the pathway to successful commercialisation. Each Development Grant application was assessed by up to 10 peer reviewers: five scientific reviewers and five commercial reviewers. This speaks volumes for the quality of Navi’s application and the value of the work they are doing to improve the care of vulnerable neonates.

In partnership with the University of Melbourne, The Royal Women’s Hospital and The Royal Children’s Hospital the funds will be used to expand Navi’s research into central line management in older children.

The NHMRC is one of the ten largest funders of health research in the world. It only invests in the highest quality health and medical research and the best researchers and supports the translation of scientific discoveries to benefit communities in Australia and around the world.

Congratulations to (L-R) Christiane Theda, Brad Bergmann, Shing Yue Sheung, Mubin Yousuf, Wei Sue and Alexander Newton.

In the last three months Navi have also commenced their first-in-human research at the Royal Women’s Hospital neonatal intensive care unit, using their prototype on newborns for the first time. They have received a Victorian Medical Research Acceleration Fund grant to expand research in the Royal Women’s Hospital to adjacent newborn procedures, and won funding from the US FDA-funded National Capital Consortium for Pediatric Device Innovation.

Find out more about Navi and their NHMRC grant success.

Story adapted from content courtesy of Lance Chia GAICD, Liverpool Innovation Precinct.

Baby bottle that self-sterilises on the go

Equity crowdfunding expression of interest is now open on Birchal for Form-i-Baby’s world-first self-sterilising baby bottle. Pronto Bottle will make bottle feeding safer for babies, save precious time for parents and keep millions of bottles out of landfill every year.

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.

Pronto Bottle is incredibly easy to use. All it takes is rinsing and filling with water, then pressing a button and the bottle and water is sterilised all at once – ready to add formula, or empty and add breastmilk, to feed the baby.

Form-i-Baby was founded by Melbourne-based entrepreneur Shannon Gilleland who realised there was a real need for a better alternative through her own experience as a parent and through follow-on market research.

“I was sitting in the back of my car trying to prepare a bottle for my daughter, juggling a thermos of hot water to heat it, and the formula containers to fill it,” recalls Shannon.

“It occurred to me that it was ridiculous that the process hasn’t changed in 20 years.”

Shannon realised that while we have more technology to help us with some processes at home, nothing has actually reduced the number of tasks.

“Plus, as I became more eco-conscious, finding a way to reduce the influx of plastic into my life that came with having a baby, and especially as a bottle feeding parent, became a higher priority,” says Shannon.

With her initial idea in mind, Shannon interviewed and surveyed over 100 parents to find out how they travelled with their baby. She discovered that their biggest pain points were around the amount of time parents spent washing, sterilising, and preparing bottles.

Shannon went about developing a product that solved this problem to save parents time while at home and travelling.

“At the same time I was able to develop a product that provided a safer bottle feeding solution for babies. Pronto Bottle is sterilised directly before a baby feeds from it, rather than leaving a pre-sterilised bottle sitting around on a benchtop or in a nappy bag for up to 24-hours risking bacterial and viral exposure to the baby when they finally do feed from it.”

Shannon joined the MedTech Actuator in 2019 to gain personal mentoring and technical knowledge on the MedTech industry in areas including manufacturing, marketing, strategy, IP, commercialisation, as well as support on fundraising and investor relationships.

The 15-month, industry-led, venture-backed program aggressively funds and accelerates medical, health and biological technology startups, working alongside venture partner Artesian to support startups on their journey.

Since joining the program, Shannon has patented Pronto Bottle, raised funds, sourced board members, solidified commercialisation and business strategies, and developed her business network.

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.”

Shannon says that depending what stage startups are at, the MedTech Actuator’s fundraising opportunities can provide the initial funds required to get through some of the riskiest first phases of product and company development.

Find out more about Form-i-Baby’s Birchal equity crowdfunding campaign at www.birchal.com/company/prontobottle.

To stay up-to-date on the latest news from MedTech Actuator startups, subscribe to our newsletter at www.medtechactuator.com and connect with us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

CSF Warning: Always consider the general CSF risk warning and offer document before investing.

MedTech Actuator Menzies Fellowships now open

Applications are now open for 2021 MedTech Actuator Menzies Fellowships – each valued at $70,000. Two high-potential medical or scientific researchers will each receive tailored mentoring from commercialisation experts, a $20,000 stipend and access to the MedTech Actuator™.

The MedTech Actuator Menzies Fellowship is designed to unlock the potential of Australia’s world-class research and researchers.

“We know that there is great work being done by researchers in Australia – particularly in the areas of human health and medicine. We want to support this talent by giving researchers access to commercialisation expertise so that they can share their work with the people who need it most – patients and clinicians,” says MedTech Actuator CEO, Dr Buzz Palmer.

The MedTech Actuator Menzies Fellowship will support the scientific community’s commercialisation capacity by facilitating knowledge transfer from industry to researchers.

“The MedTech Actuator Menzies Fellowship will provide high-potential scientists with a grounding in the elements of commercialisation, but most importantly it will provide access to our dense network of partners – a network that spans hospitals, product development firms, multinational MedTech corporations and investors,” says Dr Palmer.

The MedTech Actuator Menzies Fellowship can be undertaken while working. Initially, fellows will embark on 6 months of mentorship – working with experts within the MedTech Actuator and along the commercialisation pipeline.

During the second 6-month phase, fellows will take part in a tailored version of our flagship, industry-led accelerator. They’ll learn how to navigate key milestones in the commercialisation journey, 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. “We are passionate about investing in our country’s future science leaders and giving them the runway to ensure that their research has an impact in the world.  We look forward to sharing their entrepreneurial journey,” Menzies Foundation CEO Liz Gillies said.

To be eligible for the Fellowship, researchers must be working in the areas of health, medical or biotechnology research and have approval from the employing institution to be absent 2-3 days per month for 6 months (July 2021 – December 2021).

If you are a career researcher – or you know one – you can find out more about the Fellowship and apply here.

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

Apply now

Preventing heart attacks with MedTech innovation.

Australian startup Nirtek is developing a medical technology that will help prevent heart attacks, the leading cause of death worldwide.

Atherosclerosis is the narrowing of the arteries due to the build-up of fatty deposits called plaques. This is the most common cause of heart disease. If a coronary plaque is unstable, it can rupture and cause occlusion of the artery, resulting in a heart attack and too often, death. To date though, there has been no reliable way to detect which atherosclerotic plaque is unstable and in need of immediate treatment.

Leading interventional cardiologist and Deputy Director of the Baker Heart & Diabetes Institute, Professor Karlheinz Peter and his colleagues wanted to solve this deadly problem and began researching a new and reliable way to detect unstable plaques.

The research led to the development of Nirtek’s patented technology, known as Near InfraRed Auto Fluorescence (NIRAF). NIRAF detects unstable coronary plaques so that cardiologists can intervene and treat them before they lead to heart attacks.

“This technology was developed in direct response to a critical unmet need in the global healthcare market,” says Matthew Hoskin, Nirtek Director and CEO.

“There is no more compelling clinical need than to identify coronary artery disease that is vulnerable to plaque rupture, thrombosis and occlusion of a coronary artery” says Matthew.

“Heart attack caused by unstable plaques is the number one killer in Australia and the world. Giving cardiologists a tool to quickly identify which plaques and which patients are at high risk will allow them to intervene and treat.”

Matthew says that the technology itself has been a challenge, but one the team has risen to with determination and dedication.

“Cardiologists, scientists, optical physicists, and biomedical engineers across several leading Melbourne hospitals, research institutes and universities, have contributed to the development of an incredible device that will provide cardiologists with critical information about plaque stability” says Matthew.

“Importantly, the device does this within the existing workflows of the cardiac catheterisation laboratory.”

With a device in development that has the potential for such significant clinical impact, the team is eager to complete and where possible, accelerate the process of development, manufacturing, trial, regulatory approval, and commercialisation of this lifesaving technology.

“That is what drives us, getting the product through all the stages necessary to launch it into the clinic where it can start benefiting patients,” says Matthew.

Nirtek joined the MedTech Actuator in 2019 as an opportunity to be surrounded with people who spend all day, every day working on MedTech startups.

“That includes the MedTech Actuator staff themselves who have deep knowledge of what helps a startup to succeed, and what traps and pitfalls can be avoided,” says Matthew.

“But it’s also the many other startups with passionate and knowledgeable founders, all of whom become part of your network through the MedTech Actuator. That instant plug-in to knowledge is like expanding your own team far more rapidly than would normally be possible.”

During their time with the MedTech Actuator, Nirtek developed a business plan for product development and commercialisation, designed and built the first product prototype, progressed the patent application, and created the company entity itself, Nirtek Pty Ltd. This was supported by access to experts with specific skills and experience in establishing startups and getting them investment-ready.

“There are so many areas of strategy and planning that need to be taken into account when forming and launching a MedTech company. The MedTech Actuator is a valuable source of advice and guidance along the way,” says Matthew.

“It’s a chance to refine but also stress-test your plans as you put your business together.”

Find out more about Nirtek and follow their journey at www.nirtek.com.au.

To stay up-to-date on the latest news from MedTech Actuator startups, subscribe to our newsletter at www.medtechactuator.com and connect with us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Smart clothing for babies helps navigate stresses and anxieties of early parenthood.

Three years ago, Goldilocks founder Shem Richards was blessed with a daughter. At the hospital, his daughter was perfect and they had all the support that they needed. Then they brought her home and she started crying.

“In our sleep deprived and stressed mindset, we forgot all that information that we knew cerebrally. We constantly questioned ourselves: Is she hungry? Is she too hot or cold? Is she tired?” says Shem.

As a medical device engineer, Shem has deep expertise in ICU and NICU machines that give doctors insights into patients who are not able to communicate with them.

“I set about coming up with a solution for parents that is easy to use, and that answers the simple questions they so often have.”

This led Shem to found Goldilocks – smart clothes for babies to help parents navigate the stresses and anxieties of early parenthood.

In addition to hunger, body temperature and sleep needs, Goldilocks also tracks the behaviours or skills seen in infants and children as they grow and develop – also known as development milestones – inspired by Shem’s cousin who had cerebral palsy.

Shem’s cousin was not able to sit alone without support by the age of one. His mother did not know this was a concern because he was her first child – a mother with older children noticed and raised this. Fortunately, cerebral palsy was detected young enough to provide effective early intervention, but this is not always the case.

“We are driven to develop a product that will help parents become experts in recognising what is not ‘normal’. This way we can help children around the world to have the best possible start to their life,” says Shem.

Shem says that there have been so many challenges in creating Goldilocks that it is hard to choose just one.

“Maybe this is because you need so many expert opinions in product development including hardware, software, firmware, machine learning, doctors, regulatory, legal and more. It is hard to build a superstar team with the small amount of capital you have.”

To help overcome this challenge, Shem says that it is important to build a vision that is compelling to others.

“Sometimes that is the only thing you can offer when you are looking to build employees, investors and partners.”

Goldilocks joined the MedTech Actuator in 2019 to access experts who could help him to navigate the product development landscape – and the capital with which to do so.

The 15-month, industry-led, venture-backed program aggressively funds and accelerates medical, health and biological technology startups, working alongside venture partner Artesian to support startups on their journey.

Goldilocks has achieved impressive milestones in the program including building the team; developing and testing their version 2 prototype; and developing their version 3 prototype.

“We have also built a network of partners through access to amazing experts in so many fields. Money can’t buy you this access and networking.”

Goldilocks has launched their equity crowdfunding campaign on Birchal – supporters will own a share of Goldilocks Suit Pty Ltd. More at www.goldilockssuit.com.

To stay up-to-date on the latest news from MedTech Actuator startups, subscribe to our newsletter at www.medtechactuator.com and connect with us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

CSF Warning: Always consider the general CSF risk warning and offer document before investing.