Jun 09, 2022

MedTech Actuator 2021 Menzies Scholar: April Van Der Kamp

MedTech Actuator 2021 Menzies Scholar: April Van Der Kamp

MedTech Actuator 2021 Menzies Scholar: April Van Der Kamp

2021 MedTech Actuator Menzies Scholar April Van Der Kamp is successfully fusing science, research commercialisation and entrepreneurship. 

When it comes to scientists doing their life’s work, April comes to mind. As a founder of DFU Solutions and a PhD Candidate at Flinders University, April is building a scientific career founded in impact, commercialisation and innovation.


Phage therapy to treat diabetic foot ulcer infections

Diabetic foot ulcers (DFUs) are a serious and common complication of diabetes which are frequently infected by Staphylococcus aureus. Coupled with the rise of antibiotic resistance, diabetic foot ulcer infections are increasingly difficult to treat. This commonly leads to foot amputations which are correlated with a 5-year mortality of up to 70%. 

After losing a family member and looking at inefficiencies in the treatment of infected DFUs, April chose to pursue a PhD at Flinders University and founded DFU Solutions with her PhD supervisor, Associate Professor Peter Speck, to bring innovative treatments that harness bacteriophage therapy to market. 

“The passing away of loved ones due to complications associated with DFUs that are a preventable disease is a sad story. After experiencing first-hand how traumatic this can be, Peter and I are passionate about developing treatment options to improve patient outcomes and putting an end to this common story,” says April.

“We strive to improve patient outcomes with effective treatments targeted towards infection clearance.”

April Van Der Kamp in lab
April Van Der Kamp carrying out research as part of her PhD.

Science, research commercialisation and entrepreneurship with the MedTech Actuator Menzies Scholarship

April was selected as a 2021 MedTech Actuator Menzies Scholar, leveraging the program to dive into research translation and commercialisation. With the opportunity to network with a cohort of Scholars, see entrepreneurs grow in MedTech Actuator Origin, and receive mentorship from industry leaders, April engaged with the industry and channelled her focus into her research. 

“I am so grateful for being a recipient of the scholarship and becoming a part of the MedTech Actuator family.”

As a part of the scholarship, across an industry-led intensive sprint and mentorship, scholarship recipients gain an extensive overview of entrepreneurship, the startup ecosystem and the commercialisation process as well as a one-off, $1,000 stipend to aid the commercialisation journey. Topics covered include pathways to market, business models, navigating Australia’s healthcare ecosystem, idea validation, intellectual property, pitching, professional development, and funding for early-stage ventures.

Through the program and its benefits, April was able to understand what it takes to successfully launch a startup and get a product to market. As a result of mentoring and leadership development, April overcame her biggest challenge, that is, doubting her capabilities to succeed. 

“I applied for the scholarship using the mantra “when in doubt, apply”. I thought the worst thing they can say is no and the best thing that could happen is I learned from experience. And I’m still learning. You don’t need to have all the answers and all the confidence to get started,” says April.

Aid your commercialisation journey with the MedTech Actuator Menzies Scholarship 2022

Through this scholarship and the MedTech Actuator community, April launched DFU Solutions. Prior to the program, becoming a founder was not a reality.

“I feel accomplished presenting DFU Solution’s one-minute pitch and to have expanded my network. By moving outside of my comfort zone and gaining new experiences beyond academia, I’ve gained a refreshing perspective of entrepreneurship and the landscape that startup founders must navigate throughout their journey.”

The Scholarship experience aims to support the scientific community’s capacity to bring innovation to the market by facilitating knowledge transfer from industry to scientists and researchers. For April, the support from her supervisor and MedTech Actuator helped her take the jump into becoming a founder and following her passion.

“Other members from MedTech Actuator startups, such as Hatisens and the like, are such great support network in that they provide advice and guidance. This made a really big difference in my journey,” says April.

The MedTech Actuator Menzies Scholarship is an opportunity for scientists, researchers and innovators to explore the world of entrepreneurship, research commercialisation and MedTech, BioTech and HealthTech startups.  

Applications are now open for the 2022 MedTech Actuator Menzies Scholarships. Find out more about the Scholarship here and apply now.

You can also join MedTech Actuator Program and Community Coordinator, Makenzie Thomas for an ‘Ask Me Anything’ session on July 6. Register here.

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