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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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Wearable bionic ear to offer accessible hearing transformation.

Australian startup Augmented Bionics has secured $650,000 in a round led by UK-based VC fund IP Group and included MedTech Actuator™ VC partner Artesian.

This new support will help to advance their non-invasive bionic ear for people with severe to profound hearing loss.

Every year nearly 1.5 million adults worldwide are diagnosed with severe to profound hearing loss – the vast majority of whom receive no hearing help or only have access to technology that does not meet their needs. But Augmented Bionics is working to make it possible for individuals around the world to access non-surgical, safer, more affordable, and easy to use hearing support.

Fitted by a hearing audiologist, the non-invasive bionic ear is worn just like headphones and aims to activate the auditory nerve through magnetic waves from outside the body. This makes it possible for individuals with profound to severe hearing loss to hear and comprehend speech, and to hear sounds from their environment. This is currently only possible through costly surgical alternatives that just a handful of the world’s population with severe to profound hearing loss can access and afford.

Augmented Bionics CEO, Viraj Agnihotri’s first elevator pitch for the technology took place back in 2016, quite literally, in an elevator.

“After speaking to all the hearing clinics across Brisbane, I knew there was a big need for a non-surgical alternative. But I needed 3D models of the human head and simulation and computation software to design the device,” recalls Viraj.

“I didn’t have access to that or know how to use them, so I started hustling for someone in the engineering faculty to help me out and was recommended to a professor. He was a very busy person, and I literally found him in an elevator: we were on level one, I had until level six to convince him.”

The chance encounter connected Viraj with valuable new contacts and resources that would help bring his innovation closer to reality.

Since then, Viraj has established a strong team to advance the technology. Viraj has a background in mechatronics engineering, bioengineering, business, and innovation. His cofounders include Mahanthesh Chandra, an electrical engineer, and Nicholas Jabbour, a biomedical scientist.

The team joined the MedTech Actuator™ in 2018, a 15-month, industry-led, venture-backed program that aggressively funds and accelerates medical, health and biological technology startups alongside venture partner Artesian.

Since joining the MedTech Actuator™ the team have demonstrated their prototype’s effectiveness, received ethical clearance for human research to commence proof-of-concept testing with commercially available magnetic stimulation devices, and secured $650,000 in a round led by IP Group to continue advancing their technology.

“The MedTech Actuator’s support on all aspects of medical device commercialisation and access to investors through pitches have been very beneficial,” says Viraj.

“I would recommend the MedTech Actuator to every MedTech, HealthTech and BioTech entrepreneur that I come across.”

To learn more about Augmented Bionics and follow their journey go to www.augmentedbionics.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.

First-in-human trial of new MedTech to support critically ill newborns.

MedTech Actuator startup Navi Medical Technologies passed a major milestone recently when the clinical prototype of the Neonav ECG Tip Location System was used on patients for the first time.

The Neonav is being developed to deliver life-saving drugs and nutrients to critically ill newborns. The commencement of the ‘feasibility’ phase of the observational study will see the Neonav clinical prototype be used to record intravascular ECG data from 50 patients undergoing umbilical venous catheter procedures.

The prototype has already shown some promising early results and is expected to detect some potential line migration which will contribute to patient safety.

“This is such an exciting milestone for our whole team because it’s the first time a device we have designed and built is being used on real patients,” says Mubin Yousef, Navi Founder & Chief Technology Officer.

“We are already starting to see a great interest from our colleagues in the device and we just initiated the next stage of our study. Everybody can see the positive impact this device will have and that’s a great feeling,” adds A/Prof Christiane Theda, Navi Founder & Chief Medical Officer.

Find out more about Navi and follow their journey at www.navitechnologies.com.

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.