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: 

Meet Simran – Marketing Coordinator

Every team needs strong marketing and communication professionals to drive brand awareness, and coordinate promotional activities. As Marketing Coordinator, Simran Jain will be doing just that – bringing a unique background in marketing and biotechnology to the team at MedTech Actuator.

Simran will be managing all the marketing activities for MedTech Actuator. From content design to social media and supporting brand development, Simran will ensure that the MedTech Actuator programs reach the healthcare and startup ecosystems. On a day-to-day basis, Simran will oversee communication channels, in order to keep the community updated on MedTech Actuator Accelerator, Origin, Menzies Scholarship and Fellowship and the latest innovations and happenings.

“The core of a Marketing Coordinator’s purpose is to create value for the MedTech, HealthTech, and Biotech ecosystem. It is about communicating the opportunities to those who are driving innovation in medicine, such as startup founders, researchers, and clinicians. In doing so, I can have an impact to improve outcomes for patients and individuals who may be suffering.”

Simran holds a Master of management (marketing), with honours, from the University of Melbourne and a Master of Science (integrated) Biotechnology from VIT University, India. Before moving to Melbourne and working at social impact-focused startups, such as Far More and The Creative Co-Operative,  Simran carried out research in international labs in analytical chemistry through Mitacs Globalink Scholarship at MacEwan University, Canada, and in nanobiotechnology at the Indian Institute of Science, India. 

In addition to Simran’s marketing skillset, her background in biotechnology and applied science will enable her to connect deeply with the founders and medical technologies changing the future of healthcare in Australia and across Asia-Pacific. This dual-lens broadens Simran’s impact at MedTech Actuator beyond marketing, enabling her to identify innovation trends, and contribute to Medtech Actuator’s work with startups. 

“I am excited about the innovations emerging in MedTech and keen to see how they will revolutionise current approaches to well-being and care. I am delighted to be a part of this ecosystem and be able to contribute to the startups creating a difference.”

Meet our team

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

This piece was written by Makenzie Thomas, Program and Community Coordinator – MedTech Actuator.

Meet Sebastian – Chief Financial Officer

Chief Financial Officer Sebastian Gomez manages the financial operations of MedTech Actuator in Australia and Singapore. He brings strategy and business development acumen to mentoring and supporting founders across our programs – building their expertise in valuation, negotiation, forecasting and more.

With an MBA from Monash University and postgraduate qualifications in corporate finance and strategy, and project management, Sebastian has held positions in mergers and acquisitions, strategy, and business development. His international experience spans projects across the Americas and Asia Pacific in sectors including mining, services, and real estate.

“What really inspires me in my work with the MedTech Actuator is using my finance and strategy background to potentiate projects and initiatives that one day will change the future of healthcare,” says Sebastian.

Sebastian is excited about the growth on the horizon for MedTech Actuator programs and startups alike.

“I am driven to expand our programs internationally and to provide our startups with more opportunities to grow and become successful businesses.”

Sebastian has seen that MedTech, BioTech and HealthTech are challenging areas to work in for entrepreneurs, with no quick or easy results. 

“However, through the MedTech Actuator’s endeavours to provide the right support, funding and dedication, we have seen huge progress and encouraging outcomes in a very short period of time.”

Meet our team

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

Meet Makenzie – Program and Community Coordinator

MedTech Actuator Program and Community Coordinator Makenzie Thomas brings her passion for entrepreneurship, startup ecosystems and supporting founders to delivering MedTech Actuator Origin, and the MedTech Actuator Menzies Scholarship and Fellowship programs.

Makenzie’s international experience spans Europe, Australia, and Canada – working in project management, marketing, business innovation, academic research, and creative and cultural entrepreneurship.

MedTech Actuator Showcase 2021.
Makenzie with Maria Pelipas – MedTech Actuator, Emily Casey – What The Health and Bonnie Zhang – TRAM, University of Melbourne at the MedTech Actuator Showcase 2021.

Makenzie draws on this international experience to deliver MedTech Actuator Origin – an idea pitch competition – and the MedTech Actuator Menzies Scholarship and Fellowship programs – supporting researchers alongside the Menzies Foundation to transform their impact.

“My role covers everything from rolling out application campaigns to participant experience, to program delivery. I also look after our community and its activities,” says Makenzie.

“From one day to the next I could be writing communications, drafting social media visuals, developing program strategy, jumping into workshops, providing pitch feedback to founders, working with our network of inspiring speakers – it is quite a mixed bag!”

Cheering on founders

Working with founders is a real highlight for Makenzie in her role.

“They’ve got such a unique energy that becomes the foundation upon which they build their startups.

One thing I love about my role is that we’re right there with them, celebrating the small wins, cheering them on as they pitch (over and over) and guiding them in the right direction.

It takes so much to go from idea to successful startup and it certainly doesn’t happen overnight.

The ecosystem, accelerator programs, like MedTech Actuator, and their own personal networks are essential to success.

Being a part of this world and being able to have an impact across a number of founder journeys is my why. It’s the reason I’m here at MedTech Actuator.”

On the horizon

Makenzie says that there’s a lot happening in the MedTech, BioTech and HealthTech space, especially in Australia and across the Asia-Pacific region.

“I’m entering this corner of the entrepreneurship world with fresh eyes and I know that the ecosystem is growing and seeing some big wins. I’m really excited to learn from MedTech Actuator, the innovation ecosystem and the amazing founders coming through our programs.

The ecosystem is channeling a lot of this energy into supporting and nurturing female founders as well. The State of Australian Startup Funding 2021 report published by Cut Through Ventures and Folklore noted that from 2020 to 2021, funding events involving at least one female founder rose by 1%, leaving a whopping 81% of deals for all-male founding teams.

It’s disappointing, to say the least, but it is a huge challenge facing the whole industry and it stems from a number of systemic issues. Considering that MedTech Actuator supports and works closely with so many inspiring female founders, we’ll be doing more to amplify these stories, share the wins, demand space for women at the table, and open our calendars to early-stage female founders, researchers, and clinicians so that these numbers can continue to shift in the right direction.”

Meet our team

Get to know how others in the MedTech Actuator team are supporting Asia Pacific’s next wave of health innovators:

Meet Gobind – Project Officer

Last year the MedTech ActuatorTM opened a second office – in Singapore. As part of our expansion through Asia Pacific, Project Officer Gobind Singh is supporting the work of Singapore-based founders to improve and save lives with health innovation.

As Project Officer Gobind helps to surround startups with the ecosystem support they need to bring their MedTech, HealthTech or BioTech innovation to the patients and clinicians who need it most.

With a focus on program delivery of the MedTech Actuator – Asia Pacific’s MedTech accelerator – Gobind connects startups with intensive mentorship, industry collaboration and capital raising support to help achieve in 15 months what can typically take 3 years or more.

“My role is where the MedTech Actuator’s rubber hits the road,” says Gobind. “I handle logistics, operations, communications, bookings and planning the program.”

Once the program begins, Gobind is the first point of contact for startups in Singapore. “I consult on their pitching, decks, IMs, strategy, and anything else they throw at me.”

Before joining the MedTech Actuator, Gobind was a fellow at the RMIT Health Transformation Lab where he broke down complex problems, generated new insights, and fostered new communities to help address the thorniest questions of health system reform, transformation, technology, and value.

In his role with the MedTech Actuator, Gobind is inspired by the success that startups can experience as a result of the program – and the human impact that having the right support can lead to.

“Watching startups succeed after taking feedback on board really inspires me,” says Gobind. “It makes me feel like I have contributed to the growth or commercialisation of the startups, which will in turn save human lives or make their recovery faster.”

Gobind has observed a common challenge experienced by MedTech startups in the process of commercialisation, with founders losing sight of the initial reasons that they began their trek down the entrepreneurial path.

“It is important to clarify, renew or even rework those initial aspirations as it will make the journey less bumpy – and the MedTech Actuator can help,” says Gobind.

“I am incredibly excited about the MedTech Actuator program’s growth to become the go-to MedTech accelerator in Asia Pacific.”

Find out more about MedTech Actuator – Asia Pacific’s MedTech accelerator.

Meet Maria – Head of Programs

With a career that spans the US, Australia, Belgium, and Russia – managing international activities for over 200 startups – MedTech Actuator Head of Programs Maria Pelipas is supporting Asia Pacific’s next wave of health entrepreneurs to improve and save lives.

A seasoned program manager, Maria has experience in BioTech strategy consulting, partnerships, accelerators, investment funds, a startup, and innovation agencies. She holds a Master of International Relations from Tomsk State University, Russia and a Master of European Studies from the University of Brussels, Belgium – and is qualified in project management, venture deals and tech transfer management.

“My role involves managing the flagship MedTech Actuator – Asia Pacific’s MedTech accelerator,” says Maria. “We help founders to achieve in 15 months what usually takes three years or more – the program is unusually long for an accelerator due to the complexity of the medical space.”

Maria explains that bringing a MedTech, HealthTech or BioTech innovation to market requires an industry-specific acceleration model. As a life sciences startup, they are likely to design and manufacture a physical product, navigate clinical trials, regulatory submissions, reimbursement models and multiple customer and stakeholder groups.

“It definitely brings a lot of exciting challenges which we tackle as a team and with our dense ecosystem of partners,” says Maria.

Maria has enjoyed supporting teams through diverse challenges including founders moving at a different pace across verticals such as medical devices and digital health, and founders with research backgrounds taking the first steps to nurture their idea into a solid business.

“What excites me the most is seeing the growth in real-time,” says Maria. “I would even compare it to being a passenger in the backseat of a fast moving car – you help startups accelerate by fine-tuning the course. It is pure enjoyment to plant those seeds and watch the growth unfold.”

Maria has recently onboarded a new cohort of Asia Pacific’s best MedTech and HealthTech entrepreneurs and will kick off the program in the weeks ahead. Maria anticipates a dynamic journey for the startups that span Australia and Singapore and looks forward to lots of in-person glitz and glamour for all startups.

Maria is blown away by the MedTech Actuator team, saying that it is a kind and welcoming environment where people with different backgrounds and experiences come together to drive health innovation forward.

“Running this program reminds me of building a startup – we come up with MVP ideas; choose the best solution; pivot when we face obstacles; and keep building the best experience for our startups,” says Maria.

“I am impressed with how far the MedTech Actuator team has come since the program’s inception in 2018 and look forward to taking this to the next level, applying all of my skills, knowledge, and passion.”