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Harnessing telehealth to power a connected global health ecosystem

MedTech Actuator startup Neev Tech Labs is transforming how patients around the world experience and access healthcare through telehealth innovation

The Neev Tech Labs virtual care platform, Connect2MyDoctor is powering a connected global health ecosystem – supporting the response to challenges including delivering healthcare while preventing the spread of COVID19, and rising chronic illness.

Connect2MyDoctor is a HIPAA compliant and ISO 27001 certified virtual care platform that enables healthcare providers to deliver care in efficient and patient-centric ways. The comprehensive platform spans on-demand care; consults between rural hospitals and large tertiary care centres; care for in-patients in isolation and regular care; home care; and remote patient monitoring including medical device integration to capture real-time data.

The idea for Connect2MyDoctor was sparked in 2012 when, soon after moving with his family from Dubai to Australia, the daughter of Neev Tech Labs CEO Pramod Kutty needed to see a medical specialist.

“We were not used to the long wait period and tried to find help in the meantime through Dr Google and doctors overseas to understand more about the problem. I thought, there should be a better way to do this,” says Pramod.

This experience and Pramod’s subsequent market research led him to launch Connect2MyDoctor in 2016. Neev Tech Labs is now headquartered in Melbourne and has teams in India, Dubai, and Bahrain, along with a growing network of advisors.

Healthcare providers, hospitals, insurance companies and corporates around the world are turning to Connect2MyDoctor in growing numbers to improve and save the lives of individual patients and to create systems-wide change. The virtual care platform is deployed in 35+ multi- and super-speciality hospitals in India, the Middle East, Turkey, Azerbaijan and others. There are currently 2,000+ doctors across 50+ specialisations on the platform, supporting patients in 15+ countries. Connect2MyDoctor will soon open an office in Dubai and will also expand into the African subcontinent.

In a reflection of the difference the platform is making, Connect2MyDoctor was selected as the preferred telehealth platform of a leading healthcare association in India. This has opened access to a member base of 10,000+ hospitals. Connect2MyDoctor has also launched work with the Federal Authority of Human Resources, UAE and their mental health partner to provide 300,000+ employees and their families with access to mental health specialists from the comfort of their homes.

Neev Tech Labs was recently accepted into Hatch Quarter’s MENA Bridge for Startups global bridge program – designed to give exceptional Australian companies the tools and connections to enter and succeed in the booming Middle East and North Africa “MENA” markets.

Connect2MyDoctor wins Micro Business Award

Connect2MyDoctor wins Micro Business Award at India-Australia Business and Community Awards 2022. The annual IABCA Awards initiative looks to strengthen and celebrate the organisations, social enterprises and business leaders from across the globe who are advancing the India-Australia relationship.

Connect2MyDoctor wins Micro Business Award at India-Australia Business and Community Awards 2022. Photo credits: IABCA

“We feel privileged and honoured to have won this prestigious recognition from IABCA. It is a testament to the ground-breaking work we have done in the area of telemedicine and virtual healthcare. The importance of online healthcare has grown significantly during the pandemic and we are happy to have contributed our bit by enabling high-quality virtual healthcare access for the needy. In our next phase, we focus to deploy our new modules – cARe – 3D/AR module for patient education, OmniROM for remote rehabilitation, HomeDoc our home care module with Remote patient monitoring globally. As the preferred telehealth partner of the Association of Health Providers of India (AHPI), which has over 10,000 hospitals in its network, we are looking to further expand our horizons and address the health requirements of the patients in a virtual and efficient manner.” Says Pramod Kutty, Co-Founder and CEO of Connect2MyDoctor.

The MedTech ActuatorTM is proud to support Neev Tech Labs on their journey. The company joined the MedTech Actuator in 2019 to support market validation of Connect2MyDoctor; to connect with global industry and mentorship; to be guided through commercialisation models and capital raising.

“The MedTech Actuator helped us validate our business models and opened doors,” says Pramod.

“For any MedTech startup, the MedTech Actuator is the perfect kickstart for access to teams, industry leaders, mentors and pre-seed funding.”

Follow the journey of Connect2MyDoctor and learn more about the platform in this Economic Times story by Pramod Kutty.

Navigating the Hurdles and Hoops of Research Commercialisation

The way in which humans solve and navigate healthcare problems has progressed immensely over the past century. From penicillin to AI-driven medical imaging, health innovations have enabled humans to flourish in ways never imagined possible.

Often, the foundations of innovation begin with research, and the commercialisation of research plays a large role in the ability of innovation to get to market. When produced at scale, these breakthroughs can save lives and improve health outcomes. But it isn’t always an easy path for innovators and researchers. The journey to successfully commercialise research is fraught with hurdles and unforeseen challenges.

At the Talking HealthTech Autumn Summit, MedTech Actuator’s Head of Programs, Maria Pelipas, joined Siew Joo Beh, CEO and Co-founder of HatiSens, and Greg Miner, CEO and Co-founder of Evidentli, to discuss translating research and the challenges of commercialisation. Here, we reflect on this discussion and highlight some common speed bumps along the journey.

Talking HealthTech Autumn Summit 2022

Taking the first steps

Protecting your idea might seem like an important first step, and it is vital to consider, but none of it matters if there is no market interest in the innovation itself. The number one tip from Siew and Greg was simple – get out there and validate your idea with users, clinicians, experts and the healthcare community. 

“At HatiSens, we should have spoken to more clinicians from the start. When we did finally meet with them, we were met with so many questions, such as why are you doing this? What makes us different? We had to adopt and adapt to feedback quickly and include it in our proof of concept ” – Siew Joo Beh, CEO and Co-founder of HatiSens.

Speaking to customers isn’t a one-and-done job. Much like researchers, founders are constantly testing assumptions over and over again. This moulds the product during its development and clarifies which features need to be prioritized, or not needed at all.

Beyond validation, it comes back to the opportunity presenting itself and how you communicate it. Moving away from technical language and learning how to communicate what you’re building is crucial. Throw developing a business case into the mix and you’re easily looking at the first 12 months of work.

“When Evidentli first started out, the team had to figure out if there was a market and how we could get to it, as well as who our customers are, how we reach them and how we talk to them. And market acceptance is slow, especially in health. When you’re spinning something out, be ready for that.” Greg Miner, CEO and Co-founder of Evidentli.

Strategic teams and support networks

The timeline from idea to market for medical devices can be well over seven years, so it is vital to surround yourself with the right team and ensure that you’re all on the same page. For HatiSens, commercialisation was an opportunity for Siew to continue her Ph.D., whilst for the other Co-founders, it was about shaking up senior careers. 

“The team at HatiSens were all at different stages of our careers, so the opportunity to commercialise was really appealing… We didn’t know what we were doing at first, but we had a common interest in changing the pace of our work.” – Siew Joo Beh, CEO and Co-Founder of HatiSens.

However, building the right team is no easy feat. The team can be a major hurdle to overcome and, often, team dynamic can be the make or break element for a promising research project.

“At MedTech Actuator, we often talk about the complementarity of skills of co-founders, referencing Jim and Spock (from StarTrek) as two unique characters with drastically different approaches, visions and work styles… From our experience, four to six co-founders can enable teams to navigate the ups and downs of a startup journey while maintaining their sanity. We even have a team of 11 Co-founders – somehow they make it work really well.” – Maria Pelipas, Head of Programs at Medtech Actuator. 

Listen to Maria’s podcast on the startup journey and team issues on Talking HealthTech.


Furthermore, internal capabilities should always be strengthened by strong networks of support. Subject-matter experts, research institutions and universities can all provide vital resources at different points in time. 

When it comes to validation, the connections of research institutions can be instrumental for tapping into customer or user groups and building relationships with advisors and KOLs. For Evidentli, subject-matter experts even became investors down the line. So finding, establishing and nurturing these relationships is essential and you never know where they might lead. 

Funding

In the first few weeks or months of building a startup, funding can be scarce and delaying the use of personal funds is always preferred. Early costs, such as incorporating as a company, building a brand, consulting with IP lawyers, and developing prototypes, can add up as you try to get closer to market.

Unfortunately, it can be really hard to convince people to take a chance on something that’s never been done before, especially in the early stages. You need proof that it works and you need money to do that, but you also need to prove that it works in order to get that money. This can be particularly tricky for specialised innovations where the technology is complex.

“Finding funds is really hard. Often, investors don’t understand what you do. If you’ve got a piece of research, you’re most likely the expert. What worked for us was finding deep subject-matter experts who were willing to invest” – Greg Miner, CEO and Co-founder of Evidentli.

 

Greg from Evidentli recommends this alternative pathway that provides a double benefit. Even if the group of experts is smaller and more niche than traditional startup investors, it can help you build credibility. For example, if you are working on a very technical cardiovascular device, go to cardiologists first. It helps with market validation, innovation and team credibility, and can even result in a cheque, alleviating some of those early-stage risks. Once you’ve made headway here, others will jump on board.

 

Final words of advice

Learning about Siew and Greg’s experiences, it was clear that persistence, resilience and passion are essential ingredients in any commercialisation journey. Going all-in on a startup idea is the only way forward. You’ll be closer to success by making sure there is a market opportunity presenting itself, a strong team and support network behind you, and enough funds to provide you with a viable runway.

Want to read more about HatiSens journey? Check out a full piece on the HatiSens team here.

 

Apply for the MedTech Actuator Menzies Scholarship 2022

Menzies Scholarship 2022- Expression of Interest is now open

If you’re interested in learning more about the commercialisation journey, apply for the MedTech Actuator Menzies Scholarship 2022.

 

Each year, MedTech Actuator and the Menzies Foundation award ten high-potential health, medical and biotechnology researchers with the MedTech Actuator Menzies Scholarships, supporting them to develop a career that fuses science, research, and entrepreneurship.

 

Recipients embark on a four-month scholarship, where they gain knowledge from leading industry experts, work alongside Australia’s emerging healthcare entrepreneurs, and receive mentorship from MedTech Actuator.

 

Interested? Join Dr Buzz Palmer, CEO of MedTech Actuator, and Liz Gillies, CEO of Menzies Foundation, for a fireside chat and information session on June 7 at 12 pm. 

 

This piece was written by Makenzie Thomas, Program and Community Coordinator, and Shanna Lam, Project Officer, from MedTech Actuator





Women in Health Entrepreneurship

When it comes to healthcare and entrepreneurship, there is no such thing as a founder journey without challenges, hurdles, difficulties or dilemmas.  That said, across the system, it is often the case that female-identifying and diverse individuals face particular and specific barriers that are not always faced by their counterparts.

For example, 63% of men are highly confident about raising their next round versus just 10% of females (The State of Australian Startup Funding Report).

At the MedTech Actuator, we’re for founders.  And this means really understanding the diversity of experiences of entrepreneurs from all corners of the system, and from multiple backgrounds and contexts. The MedTech Actuator is creating opportunities so more women can learn about and participate in the healthcare innovation ecosystem.  

In this blog, we’re sharing key tips from the expert panel at the recent MedTech Actuator Women who lunch. And keep reading to check out more ecosystem opportunities and to sign up for upcoming MedTech Actuator events near you.

Women Who Raise
Women Who Raise | MedTech, BioTech and HealthTech

Women Who Raise | MedTech, BioTech and HealthTech

Last month, the MedTech Actuator hosted Lunch Chats: Women Who Raise – MedTech, BioTech, and HealthTech, putting female founders at the helm of the conversation to talk about capital raising. 

Dr Anabela Correia – CEO and Managing Director at LiVac, Rachel Yang – Partner at Giant Leap, and Tanisha Banaszczyk – Principal at Folklore Ventures joined the panel and provided a broad overview of the investment experience in Australia. We’ve wrapped up the panels’ key tips and tricks for navigating fundraising for MedTech, BioTech, and HealthTech startups.

Tips and tricks for successfully raising capital

1. Prepare, prepare some more, then go back and prepare again. 

“I’ve learned to prepare and I can’t overemphasise – prepare! It takes us about three months to get ready for a capital raise and to set up a really detailed data room. We pride ourselves on (the fact) that if an investor asks us a question we can answer it straight away. There is no hesitation. That helps to keep the conversation moving… It is all about preparation,” – Dr Anabela Correia, CEO and Managing Director at LiVac.

2. Understand the path you’re taking before you even begin. Start by reading Venture Deals or watching some of Startup Vic panel discussions (recommended by Rachel Yang – Partner at Giant Leap).

3. Know who you’re pitching to and know your investor’s mandate. There is no point speaking to an investor who doesn’t invest in early-stage startups if that is what you are. Do your research. 

4. Getting noticed by investors can be hard. Accelerator programs like the MedTech Actuator Accelerator can get you in front of potential investors. And ecosystem partners such as Startup Vic, Fishburners and What the Health?! often run investment focused events where you can learn more and meet people.

“We really nurture our networks. We’re constantly updating investors on our progress, at least once a month, and we often stop by for coffee. They’re part of the LiVac family. These relationships are really important to us,” Dr Anabela Correia,CEO and Managing Director at LiVac

5. If this is your first time seeking investment, talk to others who have been there before. Use your founder network as a support group, a sounding board, and a pathway for warm introductions.

6. A lot can happen before that first meeting. Investors will want a pitch deck, some market context and even anecdotal evidence from a trusted community member. Don’t be alarmed if they perform their own due diligence too. Be ready to answer any questions and send over all requested documents before you sit down for the first conversation.

7. In the early stages, it is all about the founders and the team. 

“It is very much a people game… really we want to know that the people behind the business are there doing their life’s work, growing the business and that they’re executors – they can get the things done that they need to get done and also attract a strong team around them,” Rachel Yang, Partner at Giant Leap.

8. Impact has to come from within and it has to be woven into the very fabric of what you’re building. Be prepared to start measuring impact potential.

“(Giant Leap) looks for impact embedded in the business model. So what that means if for every dollar invested, there is a unit of impact… In the healthcare space, it is things like improved health outcomes, healthcare savings to the broader system,” – Rachel Yang, Partner at Giant Leap.

9. The ecosystem is optimistic about digital health and its impact on healthcare, so there has never been a better time to dive into healthcare startups, especially if you’re a female founder.

“When you think about what opportunities are out there and where there is the most potential for innovation in a space, it is about what problems can be solved. (Investors) are really optimistic about… the digital health space and digital therapeutics. The ability to solve these (healthcare) problems at scale is really exciting.” – Rachel Yang, Partner at Giant Leap.

What’s next?

There are many opportunities for you to explore entrepreneurship across the healthcare innovation ecosystem. Join the MedTech Actuator at an upcoming event near you:

  • Morning with Women in Health Entrepreneurship – Join the MedTech Actuator and partners for a morning exploring what it takes to be an entrepreneur in the healthcare ecosystem. This event will speak to the hurdles and challenges often faced by female-identifying and diverse individuals in healthcare. Anyone interested in healthcare entrepreneurship is welcome to attend. Reserve your seat today.
  • The MedTech Actuator Menzies Scholarship – if you’re an early-stage researcher or post-graduate student interested in innovating in human health then the Menzies Scholarship is perfect for you. Applications open soon. Register your interest here.
  • The MedTech Actuator Office Hours – we’ve opened up our calendars and would love to sit down with emerging female and diverse founders. From friendly intros to questions about programs to soundboard, Makenzie would love to chat with you. Book a call today!

The MedTech Actuator is actively opening and fostering an inclusive MedTech innovation ecosystem. We strongly encourage individuals from diverse backgrounds to engage with our community and apply to our programs. 

This post was created by Makenzie Thomas, Program and Community Coordinator, and, Simran Jain, Marketing Coordinator, at MedTech Actuator

Meet Shanna – Project Officer

Project Officer Shanna Lam works with the MedTech Actuator team to organise and provide project management support for the MedTech Actuator programs, including the flagship 12-month MedTech Actuator Accelerator, the idea-stage innovation competition Origin, Menzies Scholarship and Fellowship and its community across Australia and the Asia-Pacific. 

As a recent graduate from the University of Melbourne with a Master of Biomedical Engineering, Shanna brings project management skills along with STEM knowledge to the role. During her final year at the university, Shanna undertook Biodesign Innovation as a capstone subject, which introduced her to the world of MedTech innovation. During the unit, Shanna and her Team – Venosense – applied the interdisciplinary concepts to design an innovative medical device. 

Her team’s project was focused on transforming peripheral intravenous visualisation through the use of a 3D imaging system that would help improve the accuracy of cannulation procedures. Cannulation is one of the most widely performed invasive procedures in medicine, and their invention had the potential to make a significant difference to the patient experience and quality of healthcare. This experience inspired her to get involved in the startup community. 

“I love learning new things and being challenged, so I’m very excited to join Medtech Actuator”, says Shanna. 

The opportunity to help MedTech Actuator programs run as smoothly as possible to help new founders make an impact with their innovative technologies is what drives her. 

Shanna is inspired by how much Medtech Actuator has already achieved in just a few years, and is now looking forward to more accomplishments in the future.

“I can’t wait to work with all the new startups making a difference in Medtech”.

Outside of work, Shanna likes to travel, play board games, and sew. 

Meet our team

More on how the MedTech Actuator team is supporting Asia Pacific’s next wave of health innovators – meet: 

Meet Matt – Commercial & Partnership Director

Commercial and Partnership Director Matt Frith works with the MedTech Actuator team to develop and drive the execution of strategies to ensure the long term growth of the MedTech Actuator, and its programs such as MedTech Actuator Accelerator, Origin, Menzies Scholarship and Fellowship, and its ecosystem across Australia and the Asia-Pacific. This includes engaging with and supporting startup founders and developing and managing strategic relationships with key partners and stakeholders across public policy, health, and innovation ecosystems.

With an Executive MBA with Distinction from RMIT University, Matt is a successful and impact-driven senior leader with over 15 years of industry and innovation ecosystem experience leading and delivering complex commercial projects and partnerships to drive business and profit growth and social impact. His partnerships experience spans senior Sales & Marketing and Commercial roles in global manufacturing businesses with responsibility for managing teams, annual revenue budgets ranging from $40-$80 million, and strategic relationships with key partners across Australia, NZ and Asia.

Creating impact through innovation 

Matt has built programs to support, and collaborated with inventors, researchers, and technical R&D experts to successfully commercialise and translate new innovations. He worked within RMIT’s Activator team to establish and implement the inaugural startup and innovation programs. And for the last 4 years, he has supported The University of Queensland with the commercial development and launch of evidence-based digital health intervention, BeUpstanding, which is being used by thousands of employees to improve their health at work. 

With a passion for generating impact through innovation, Matt founded kin8 and over the last 7 years has delivered innovation commercialisation and change management projects for a network of diverse clients including RMIT University, The University of Queensland, JLL, Haworth, TALi Health, Fire Protection Association, Whitehorse City Council, LaunchVic, Defence Innovation Hub, The Victorian Government, and the Shared Value Project. 

“I’m looking forward to building on the solid foundation of existing relationships, networks, and diverse MedTech Actuator partners, and developing new collaborations that create mutual value”, says Matt.

Matt is super excited with the momentum and the ambitious growth plans that are in motion to further scale MedTech Actuator in the Asia Pacific region. With this, he can support an even greater number of founders to successfully commercialise innovative new technologies that will change the face of healthcare. He is passionate about the MedTech, HealthTech, and BioTech innovations leading to more personalised health care and a future where we can better understand, prevent, and treat mental health conditions.

“I’m driven to rapidly expand MedTech Actuator’s impact even further, and I’m inspired by founders that have the courage to take on the challenge of developing an innovative MedTech, HealthTech or BioTech startup.”



Meet our team

More on how the MedTech Actuator team is supporting Asia Pacific’s next wave of health innovators – meet: 

Synchron: Unlocking The Natural Highways Of The Brain

Synchron founders and inaugural MedTech Actuator Origin alumni Associate Professor Thomas Oxley and Professor Nicholas Opie spoke with us recently about their journey to unlock the natural highways of the brain. 

For startups who may be struggling with funding, technology and doors closing, Thomas and Nicholas’ story shows that curiosity, resilience, drive and friendship are key to success in the long road of MedTech innovation.

On consciousness and Astro Boy

Tracing early childhood’s influence on life-changing innovation.

Thomas: As a boy growing up, conversations with my father got me thinking about wanting to do new things. I think innovation is a curiosity, or wanting to change the way that things are into something new. And from a very young age I was fascinated with things that we didn’t understand, or things that we didn’t know. 

“My conversations with my father about philosophy and space kept pushing me towards the areas of the unknown.”

Thomas talking about the origins of his innovation during MedTech’s Got Talent (now known as MedTech Actuator Origin) Gala Final 2013

I remember deciding quite early on as a teenager that there were three big mysteries that were worth chasing in life: the brain, the ocean, and outer space. I was exposed to things around the brain when I was quite young and it was this big black box mystery to me.

A lot of people go into medicine because they have an experience in their family, or they want to be healers. I went into medicine with a fascination around what was not known. I was drawn to solving mysteries around what the brain is, and what consciousness is.

When I finished medicine, I was first exposed to brain computer interfaces (BCI) on night shift in 2008. I saw a scientific piece about the first human implant with a BCI. And it just set off my imagination with what it could mean and where it could go. 

And this was all, I think, the origin of my person.

Nicholas: For me it was a little bit different. My fascination came from cartoons: Inspector Gadget, Astro Boy. I watched those cartoons as a kid and said, “I want to do that. I want to build robotic devices that people can use.” And this has stemmed throughout my career.

When Nick saw Astro Boy as a child when he was 6 learning to make things he said, “I want to do that.”

I did science and engineering at university and then continued on that passion, developing prosthetic devices and bionic eyes. 

“I tried to find ways that I could make technology using my hands, and help people who didn’t have any other option.”

I did a lot of research and academic work, and solved a lot of interesting problems. But in academia, at least from my perspective, there was this continual cycle of, “There’s a new problem – you solve it. There’s a new problem – you solve it.” 

Sure, we found new knowledge and that was great. But it didn’t seem to make a big impact on the community at large. 

It was really only when meeting Tom, and we came up with the idea of making a technology that goes inside blood vessels as a novel way to access the brain and learn the information contained within, that we really had the chance and opportunity to say:

 

“It’s now up to us. Do we want to continue this cycle of learning? Or is there a way that we can really push this forward and make sure it gets to the people that need it.”

Tom and I were well aligned early on that this was the path we wanted to take. And this started progressing with the MedTech Actuator Origin (then known as MedTech’s Got Talent) helping us along the way, showing us what it means to turn from academia or research into a commercial company.

Nicholas and Thomas took out the top prize for Synchron at the inaugural MedTech’s Got Talent (now known as MedTech Actuator Origin) Gala Final 2013.

“Hello World” – the first direct-thought tweet 

When Philip communicated with the world through thought.

Thomas: The first patient was implanted with the Synchron brain computer interface back in August 2019. He had his first system and was using WhatsApp within a few weeks of having turned the system on. 

Then the idea for direct-thought tweets came about at the end of 2021, as a feel-good Christmas story. A patient that we work with, Philip O’Keefe, [voice cracks a little with emotion] is an amazing guy and just full of energy. Philip is 62 years old, and has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

“Philip is facing this horrible illness and his mortality with this enthusiasm and understanding that what he is working on is hopefully going to help people in his position in years to come after him.” 

It was very stressful for Philip, with a thirty minute take-over period for him to tweet directly from my twitter account using his thoughts. His whole family was there with him.

Phil sends the world’s first-ever tweets using direct thought with the Synchron brain computer interface.

But he had his 16-year-old daughter there and his wife and the family. There were tears, it was incredible. It was a life affirming moment for Philip, and an inspiration for his family. It was really special.


Phil created these tweets from Thomas’ account using direct-thought

Building the team behind a groundbreaking technology

And the ecosystem behind the team.

Nicholas: People can learn what they need to learn. But it’s very hard to change who you are. I really go into a lot of the interviews and try to find people that I gel with, that I think are enthusiastic and have the same values, and really want to make a difference. 

If they don’t have particular skills, if they’re good enough and they want it enough – which becomes apparent when you’re speaking with them – they’ll be able to learn those skills, for the most part. 

I don’t really use the skills that I learnt in my engineering degree any more, because they’re not the ones that I’m passionate about. And I think the same goes the other way around. 

“If you’re really passionate about something then you can learn anything.”

So largely, it’s been about getting the right people – not necessarily the right skills. Skills are certainly important, you don’t want to be too far away. But we look for the right people to form a team and to form a culture of excellence, people who are enthusiastic about driving forward the mission that we have.

Thomas: Going back to really key leadership positions that we had to put in place – research and development, clinical, regulatory, and product. You also have to sell a vision – it’s not just a job now. This is a generational chance to make a contribution to something that’s going to change the world. And to do that you have to take risks, because everyone has taken a pay cut to come to the company, because there are other rewards. And so that plays into what Nick was talking about. 

“We’re looking for the risk-taking, entrepreneurial, full of life people who are willing to find ways to make it work.”

I think entrepreneurship is growing in Australia. I did notice when I moved over to the US, the cultural norm of a startup is more at the forefront of psychology there. It’s more talked about, the language is there, the words are there, there’s more of an understanding of it. And I think it’s growing now in Australia too, and that takes time.

Nicholas: I think it also comes from the education sector. When I finished my PhD along with others, we handed in our thesis, and off we went. We were done. And we didn’t know what to do next. There was no pathway. 

“But at a lot of American institutions, you have to do a final year in your PhD, whether you’re successful or not, and try to start a business out of what you’ve made.” 

So you’re already in the mindset of doing this [PhD] for the purpose of taking it further. And you’re guided – but not only guided, you’re mandated – to do that and to get that experience. 

I think it would be great to have this in Australia. To get everyone to start thinking about, ‘why am I doing this?’, and ‘if I do it, how can I take it further’? Regardless of whether it works or not, that’s not the point. 

It’s about getting in the mindset of not just doing things for the sake of doing things. But doing things because there’s a beneficial societal role that comes at the end.

On determination, resilience, and being uncrushable

Facing things not going your way, again and again.

Nicholas: I don’t know how many of those pitches you did, Tom. But you continued to do them, refining them, getting them better every time – even though it all kept shutting on you. To be able to continue doing that and then finally get to a point where someone says, ‘we’re ready to go’, that must have been a highlight for you. You put in a huge amount of effort and I don’t know how you were able to continue receiving the ‘nos’ – that’s amazing.

Thomas: Thanks Nick. I think we made contact with a particular investor in January 2019, and then the deal was done in 2021. So it took two years. And I think I counted that it was 200 engaged groups until we got the deal done and got to Series B. And now the trajectory is looking a bit different to where we were.

Nicholas: That’s a bit of a lesson for founders in MedTech Actuator programs and the innovation ecosystem more broadly. That you’ve got to have that resilience. You need to believe in yourself and your own technology. And you need to be able to face a whole lot of things not going your way, particularly in the pitching space. 

And hopefully you’ll get lucky and the timing will be right, and it’ll kick off. But you know don’t stop after two or three or five or ten – or 200! [laughs] – negative ones, right? You’ve got to keep going. The position we are in today is because Tom has had the ability to keep going and to keep searching. 

Thomas: Throughout our time working together, Nick has had this unending amount of enthusiasm and optimism that is uncrushable. A lot of people just give up or don’t have this sort of resilience. 

What I’ve loved about working with Nick for all these years is that when I get a little bit flat or down, he’s always able to bounce us back up. Sometimes he misplaces his optimism and feels that everything is going to work out! But when it’s getting tough I really feed off Nick’s resilience.

Nicholas and Thomas’ journey as friends and Founders at MedTech’s Got Talent (now known as MedTech Actuator Origin) Gala Final 2013

On answering childhood curiosities

And the calling of Inspector Gadget.

Thomas: In terms of my childhood curiosity, I think the subconscious in the brain is a massively untouched area that still seems invisible. I’m probably going to die before we get the chance to really understand that. There’s so much to learn from the brain to understand what we’re manifesting.

Nicholas: I’ll never genuinely feel like Inspector Gadget. There’s always more tricks that he can pull out of his hat. That’s a never ending story that will keep going and keep getting better. 

Learn more about Synchron, and read the Press Release announcing Philip O’Keefe’s ‘Hello World’ moment on 23 December 2021.





MedTech Actuator Menzies Fellow 2022: Dr Greg Stewart

MedTech Actuator Menzies Fellow Dr Greg Stewart is fusing research with entrepreneurship to deliver better medicines for psychiatric disease.

Developing New Therapeutics For Schizophrenia 

Dr Greg Stewart is the Better Medicines program manager and Senior Research Fellow in the Neuromedicines Discovery Centre based at Monash University’s Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Science.

Working between academia and the pharmaceutical industry, Greg drives programs that deliver better medicines for the treatment of psychiatric disease.

Dr Greg Stewart

Greg notes that current medicines to treat psychiatric diseases such as schizophrenia are far from ideal.

“My drive is to create new medicines for psychiatric diseases to improve the quality of life of those affected.”

Greg explains that schizophrenia is one such disease that has no effective treatment options. 

“I believe my project can create a therapeutic for schizophrenia with vastly improved efficacy and greatly reduced side effect profile – thereby improving patient outcomes,” says Greg. 

Research x Entrepreneurship With The MedTech Actuator Menzies Fellowship

Greg became a MedTech Actuator Menzies Fellow to connect with industry leaders in Australia and the region, and to gain a deeper understanding of the inner workings of the Australian BioTech industry.

“The MedTech Actuator Menzies Fellowship forms a critical component in the transition I wish to make to an industry-oriented position and Australian BioTech.”

As a MedTech Actuator Menzies Fellow, Greg is building expertise in entrepreneurship, commercialisation, and the startup ecosystem. 

This support will help to unlock the potential in his research and embed improved therapeutics for psychiatric disease in clinical practice.

Through the Fellowship, Greg receives mentorship from industry experts, a $20K stipend, networking opportunities and invitations to exclusive events.

Our Network Becomes Greg’s Network For Life

The MedTech Actuator’s network becomes Greg’s network – not just throughout the program, but for life. He joins our community of:

  • MedTech Actuator’s extensive ecosystem of partners spanning hospitals, product development firms, multinational corporations, and investors
  • The brightest MedTech, HealthTech and BioTech founders across Asia Pacific in the MedTech Actuator Accelerator
  • MedTech Actuator Menzies Scholars and Fellows
  • MedTech Actuator Origin entrepreneurs – Asia Pacific’s next wave of innovators

Are you a future MedTech Actuator Menzies Fellow?

If you’re a senior researcher in human health, the prestigious MedTech Actuator Menzies Fellowship can help you to transform your research impact.

Dr Greg Stewart

Get ready to fuse your research and science expertise with entrepreneurship – applications for the MedTech Actuator Menzies Fellowship 2023 open in the coming months.

Women and applicants from diverse backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply for our 2023 intake. We want to hear from you and are here to chat if you have questions – reach out below.

To stay in the loop sign up for news and updates below, and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter

You can also reach out to MedTech Actuator Programs and Community Coordinator Makenzie Thomas with any questions at makenzie@medtechactuator.com

MedTech Actuator Menzies Fellow: Dr Warwick Nesbitt

MedTech Actuator Menzies Fellow Dr Warwick Nesbitt is fusing research with entrepreneurship to help reduce the prevalence and impact of cardiovascular disease.

Dr Warwick holding his Lab-on-a-chip Device

Unlocking The Potential Of Lab-On-A-Chip Technologies

Warwick is the Laboratory Head of the Haematology Micro-platforms Group, based within the Australian Centre for Blood Disease at Monash University.

His multidisciplinary group focuses on the development of novel lab-on-a-chip technologies. These technologies have applications in:

  • basic haematology/cell biology research
  • new diagnostics in thrombosis and haemostasis
  • new antithrombotic drug discovery.

Nesbitt with his Team

Making A Difference To Heart Attack And Stroke Patients

Warwick says that a key inspiration for developing the lab-on-a-chip technologies is the prevalence and impact that cardiovascular diseases – particularly heart attack and stroke – have on the community. 

“Having had family members’ quality of life impacted through the devastating effects of stroke, I am keenly aware of the need for better diagnostics and therapeutics in this area of medicine,” says Warwick.

“My hope is that by developing better tests of blood function, we can improve the clinical management of cardiovascular disease patients.”

Research x Entrepreneurship With The MedTech Actuator Menzies Fellowship

Warwick became a MedTech Actuator Menzies Fellow to develop a better understanding of the MedTech landscape in Australia and internationally.

“I am excited to access the experience, expertise, and networks necessary to commercialise our lab-on-a-chip technologies.” 

As a MedTech Actuator Menzies Fellow, Warwick is building expertise in entrepreneurship, commercialisation, and the startup ecosystem. 

This support will help to unlock the potential in his research and embed the novel lab-on-a-chip technologies in clinical practice to improve and save lives.

Through the Fellowship, Warwick receives mentorship from industry experts, a $20K stipend, networking opportunities and invitations to exclusive events.

Our Network Is Warwick’s Network For Life

As a MedTech Actuator Menzies Fellow, our network becomes Warwick’s network – not just throughout the program, but for life. He joins our community of:

  • The brightest MedTech, HealthTech and BioTech founders across Asia Pacific in the MedTech Actuator Accelerator
  • MedTech Actuator’s extensive ecosystem of partners spanning hospitals, product development firms, multinational corporations, and investors
  • MedTech Actuator Menzies Scholars and Fellows
  • MedTech Actuator Origin entrepreneurs

Are you a future MedTech Actuator Menzies Fellow?

If you’re a senior researcher in human health at an Australian university or research institute, the prestigious MedTech Actuator Menzies Fellowship can help you to transform your research impact.

Get ready to fuse your research and science expertise with entrepreneurship – applications for the MedTech Actuator Menzies Fellowship 2023 will open in the coming months.

Women and applicants from diverse backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply for our 2023 intake. We want to hear from you and would love to chat if you have questions – reach out below.

To stay in the loop sign up for news and updates below, and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter

You can also reach out to MedTech Actuator Program and Community Coordinator, Makenzie Thomas, with any questions at makenzie@medtechactuator.com

The Growing Role for Female Leadership in MedTech Startups 

Nutromics Head of Commercial and IP Rosie Stramandinoli shares her journey and reflects on the growing role and importance of female leadership in MedTech startups.

Here’s a statement you’ve probably heard before: women are underrepresented in MedTech startup leadership roles. Factors such as the underrepresentation of women in entrepreneurship and limited growth opportunities exacerbate the problem. 

This is the story of one woman who has dealt with these challenges and overcome the odds to get where she is today. It is a story about courage and tenacity, and an argument for investing in women – as told through the journey of Rosie Stramandinoli, Head of Commercial and IP at Nutromics. 

Moving from corporate leadership to startups

Rosie was a part-time STEM student while working full-time at a high-powered IP firm. During this time, she fell in love with the world of patents and intellectual property. 

“I realised very quickly that I wanted to be a patent attorney. So, when I graduated from university, I commenced my technical training to become a qualified patent attorney. Once I accomplished that, I worked hard and eventually became a partner,” she said. 

Not only did Rosie make partner, she was also ranked amongst the Top 250 Women in IP globally in 2019. 

On her move from corporates to startups, Rosie says:

“I really enjoyed the work and being able to help my clients. However, as the years went by, I realised that I needed to create a much bigger impact to feel truly fulfilled. A client suggested Monash University’s Global Executive MBA program. During my MBA, I met Dr Buzz Palmer. He introduced me to MedTech Actuator Accelerator alumni Peter Vranes and Hitesh Mehta, the co-CEOs and co-founders of Nutromics. The rest, as they say, is history.”

Photograph of the Nutromics team at a workshop in 2020.
Rosie at a Nutromics workshop in 2020.

The role of a female leader

Rosie brings to the table a wealth of experience gained from years of formulating strategy and leading negotiations. However, she acknowledges that being a female leader often brings a more empathetic and nurturing perspective to decision making. 

“Women are really purpose driven and can look at the same situation from completely different perspectives. In my experience, when things are really stressful or busy, women still take all pertinent factors into consideration to offer a more balanced decision. They contribute opinions that make for a more well-rounded outcome,” she says. 

Rosie says that, in her experience, good female leaders have been strong mentors, pillars of the community, and have created the most impact. 

“You will always have good and bad leaders, regardless of gender. But, if your organisation has a fair representation of good male and female leaders, your outcomes will be more balanced.”

Looking at Australian female MedTech founders like Michelle Gallaher from Opyl, Alice Williams from Ovira and Lauren Barber from NeedleCalm as well as industry innovators like Emily Casey from What The Health, Rosie sees that women are really carving out their own path. 

“Female founders and startup operators in Australia are doing a great job of making themselves and their impact heard and seen. They are overcoming biases and hurdles beautifully. We need to have more faith in female founders and leaders in MedTech and continue to support them,” says Rosie. 

“If we invest in women, if we offer them a platform to be heard, and if we provide them with opportunity, they will continue to flourish.” 

“Women are showing that they can do it all, just as well, if not better,” Rosie says. 

Creating a pathway for women to succeed

Rosie’s journey wasn’t an easy one. Early on, she had very limited access to resources, support networks, and mentors. 

“I did not come from a privileged background, but that did not deter me from being the best that I can be,” Rosie says.  

“I took any opportunity that came my way, with both hands. There were long nights, missed holidays, and sacrifices along the way. However, now that I am a leader, I don’t think that this is the only way to succeed. I really believe in helping women who want to achieve more.”

Rosie acknowledges that often a leadership journey is not a linear path for women and they must deal with obstacles along the way.

“Companies are encouraged to have women in their teams, but this isn’t enough. They need to listen to women or give them a voice. We need to remove those inadvertent biases that limit the definition of what women are capable of,” she says. 

What can these companies do to ensure that they’re giving women opportunities to succeed? 

“Companies should be actively helping women to grow personally and professionally. Leadership programs and mentoring are a few ways to do this. It is important to make it easy for women to reach out and ask for opportunities to learn and grow,” Rosie suggests. 

Ensuring your success as a leader

Rosie also offers two pieces of advice for women, based on her own experiences. The first is don’t be humble.  

“Early on in my career, I would shy away from talking about my accomplishments,” says Rosie.

“Now, I am more than willing to let others know about my achievements, as well as my struggles to get there.”

“Women are doing incredible work and we should be confident in our success and talk about it. We should also support each other. If you see a good female leader, tell them! Boost their confidence and boost your own, you deserve it.”

“The more you talk about your journey and your accomplishments, the more you will inspire other women to do the same.” 

Rosie’s second piece of advice is to reach out.

“Don’t be afraid to identify women who inspire you and reach out. Send them an email, connect with them on LinkedIn, or ask a mutual contact for an introduction. Good female leaders are always willing to give you their time and guide you to achieve success.” 

Rosie’s leadership story started as a young girl with no industry connections or mentors. All she had was a desire to achieve. 

Her tenacity and courage helped her get to where she is today, and she believes in making the path easier for women who come after her. She is a champion for women in the industry, and as long as we have leaders like her, the role of women in MedTech startups will continue to grow! 

Author: Royina Bakshi, PR & Comms Lead @ Nutromics

MedTech Actuator Accelerator 4th Birthday

Here’s to another year of supporting APAC’s best emerging medical innovations through the MedTech Actuator Accelerator!

From the very first MedTech Actuator Accelerator cohort in 2018 to today, over 50 medical innovations have developed into startups leading Asia Pacific’s health transformation. 

Last night, we got together with our alumni to celebrate our six cohorts navigating the commercialisation journey. And we continue our call for the seventh accelerator cohort taking place later this year – applications close this Sunday 6 March.

Looking back to reflect forward

Alumni joined us on stage last night with their original pitch decks from day one. This highlighted the strength of founders within our community, and how far they’ve come since completing the MedTech Actuator Accelerator.

Looking back to where we’ve been is an essential part of the process. It provides perspective and reassurance that we’ve come a long way and the confidence to rise to challenges ahead. Founders can tackle anything. Especially when they’ve got a community of founders, industry experts, investors, researchers, and clinicians backing them from the beginning. 

Our very first pitch

Buzz and Vishaal share MedTech Actuator's first ever pitch.

Dr Buzz Palmer, CEO of MedTech Actuator, shares the first pitch deck for the organisation.

At MedTech Actuator, we believe in learning from the past and helping others to avoid the same pitfalls. Follow the tips below from us and founders, as well as those in this blog post, if you’re looking to put together a stand-out application for the MedTech Actuator Accelerator.

Tip 1: Make sure the content can stand on its own. Fancy branding will only get you so far.

Nutromics

Hitesh Mehta and Peter Vranes, Co-Founders of Nutromics.
Hitesh Mehta and Peter Vranes in the early days of Nutromics

“When we pitched, Nutromics had just landed on our new logo, so we put it everywhere… actually six times on our competitors’ slide. Don’t do this. Keep it simple and clear.”

“As of today, we’ve raised $6M in total. We are very appreciative of the faith that Buzz Palmer, Vishaal Kishore, and the MedTech Actuator had in us. It was the conduit that got us to where we are today.”

– Hitesh Mehta and Peter Vranes, Nutromics

Tip 2: The team is everything. When pitching and applying to programs, let us know who you are and what you stand for.

Stelect

Elise Sutherland, Stelect

“We didn’t have a team slide, which I thought was odd. We mustn’t have thought team was important, but that’s something we learned through MedTech Actuator. Team is crucial.”

“According to our market slide, Stelect was doing it – we’re going everywhere. It was not a market entry strategy, it was an every market strategy. Things have clearly changed since then and our expectations are more realistic now…”

-Elise Sutherland, Stelect

Tip 3: Back up your claims and value proposition. And, if you don’t know something or you’re making an assumption, that’s okay. We don’t expect you to know it all.

Navi Medical Technologies

The Navi team
The Navi Medical Technologies team

“In our first pitch deck, our value prop was making things better and, of course, we reduced the risks whilst doing so. No quantifications needed – we just made things better. We leveraged this notion to back up our subscription revenue model, which lasted for about a month after we pitched to MedTech Actuator. That all changed when we spoke to hospitals and they laughed in our face.”

“If you’re thinking about the path to market, it is probably going to take twice as long as you expect.”

“The MedTech Actuator Accelerator was a real catalyst and enabled us to take that first step!”

-Alex Newton, Navi

Proud to celebrate with you

Thank you to the founders and everyone who surrounds and supports them. Together, we make up the MedTech Actuator community and it brings us great pride to watch you grow and move closer to market. We can’t wait to celebrate our 5th birthday with you all next year!

Ready to level-up?

If you’ve got an idea that you’d like to take through the program, then apply for the MedTech Actuator Accelerator by Monday, March 7.

Or, sign up to MedTech Actuator updates below to stay in the loop.

The MedTech Actuator Accelerator is supported by LaunchVic and the REDI Initiative, powered by MTPConnect.