Sep 12, 2022

MedTech Actuator Origin Alumni: Anura Medical

MedTech Actuator Origin Alumni: Anura Medical

Anura Medical is developing a wearable patch that continuously monitors lung function to detect lung decline, promote early treatment and improve overall health for people with respiratory disease.

The Origin Story

Anura Medical came together in 2021 through the University of Melbourne’s BioDesign Innovation course as a team of Melbourne Business School and Biomedical engineering students. The team has diverse experience in clinical medical practice, supply chain consulting, biomedical and mechanical engineering. The three team members aligned across backgrounds and outlooks on the problems to be solved in the healthcare ecosystem and started working on Cahm, a respiratory monitoring device.

The idea for the device originated when Dr Rebecca McCormick and Co-Founders, Phoebe Lewis and Wiliam Symington, identified the issue that monitoring lung health for people with flare-ups of chronic lung disease requires invasive blood tests, which can lead to delayed treatment. After speaking with clinicians across various fields for 3 months, this unmet clinical need stood out to the group.  Through this process, multiple clinicians cited the healthcare ecosystem was desperate for a better way to monitor ventilation and response to treatment, rather than the intermittent current standard.

“I have spent 6 years working in hospitals as a medical doctor and have experienced the challenges faced by physicians and patients in respiratory medicine.  The technology currently available means that monitoring practices are reactive, as they rely on patients displaying signs or symptoms first. I believe that there is a better way of preventing complications through non-invasive monitoring of high-risk patients. Technology that supports preventative medicine is the way of the future”, says Dr Rebecca McCormick

The Anura Medical team is driven to improve respiratory monitoring ability for clinicians and patients who are at a higher risk of respiratory diseases and the complications associated.

Origin team with their first prototype: William Symington, Rebecca McCormick, Jessica Anderson, Phoebe Lewis and Ela Venugopal.

The MedTech Actuator Origin experience 

After identifying their unmet clinical need and developing their solution, Anura Medical set the goal to get into MedTech Actuator Origin in 2021. MedTech Actuator Origin is an early-stage innovation program for emerging human health technologies and solutions across Australia and would be the first opportunity for the team to test their concept outside of the Biodesign classroom.

“The program is a good way to pressure test your idea, as this was our first time testing our concept outside of the university environment,” says Dr Rebecca McCormick.

MedTech Actuator Origin provides founders with the opportunity to validate their idea with the industry and pitch them to the startup ecosystem, often for the first time. Selected teams join MedTech Actuator in Melbourne for an intensive sprint, where, over three days, they learn to work alongside 20 other teams from Australia and Japan and pitch for their chance to win a $10k cash prize, over $5k worth of in-kind support and gain access to fast-tracked entry into the MedTech Actuator Accelerator 2023. 

“This is the best first step you can take if you are interested in the MedTech innovation space. The Origin experience will provide you with mentorship, networking and connections. Also, the practical pitching advice you receive will help you in getting further investment or just getting people interested in your idea”, says William on his program experience. 

Overcoming challenges with determination

Motivated to make a bigger impact on patients through innovative medical technology, the biggest challenge for the Anura Medial team had been to move from ideation and validation in the clinical setting to the startup world and address key risks involved in the early days of launching a company. It included shifting gears and focusing their efforts on key tasks to maintain their current trajectory to get to the market.

I think one challenge is just the amount of moving parts and trying to understand all the intricacies of all of those different things that you have to be aware of when you’re trying to start a medical device venture. It’s not just the technology, it’s everything else that comes with that”, says Phoebe.

Phoebe, and William with mentor Stephen Ho when they won the ‘Stephen Ho Innovation Award’ with significant funding to help them commercialise their project idea.

This is where MedTech Actuator Origin proved to be highly valuable. Through the program, emerging entrepreneurs get an opportunity to validate, pressure test and turbocharge their project turning it into an early-stage startup.

Along with the Origin experience, mentors and advisors have played an important role in Anura Medical’s progress, helping them think holistically about the pathway forward. Among those, Kwanghui Lim, David Grayden and Simon Wilkins from BioDesign Innovation, along with their advisor Stephen Ho, have been instrumental in shaping the team and product capabilities at the early stages. 

One of the team’s biggest tips to emerging founders and entrepreneurs is to choose the right team with diverse skills where members get along and challenge each other. This is what Anura Medical credits for bringing the best out in each other across the journey to date.

Since their time in MedTech Actuator Origin, where the team received its initial validation, Anura Medical has been set up as a company in May 2022 and continues on the pathway to market as part of the MedTech Actuator Accelerator 2022 cohort. The team has secured its first early-stage funding through the Accelerator and is working towards a functional MVP.

“It is a good introduction into the MedTech world, as you get involved with people in the same circle”, says Phoebe on the beneficial aspects of being an Origin participant.

Apply for MedTech Actuator Origin 2022

On a similar path as Anura Medical? Applications are now open for the MedTech Actuator Origin 2022.

Whether you’re a researcher, scientist, clinician or student, MedTech Actuator Origin is looking for passionate entrepreneurs to transform healthcare. The winner of MedTech Actuator Origin will receive a $10k cash prize, over $5k worth of in-kind support and gain access to fast-tracked entry into MedTech Actuator Accelerator 2023.

Have questions about the application or program?

Check out the FAQs or register for the upcoming information session about the MedTech Actuator Origin 2022.

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