May 19, 2022

Menzies Scholars – Where are they now?

Menzies Scholars – Where are they now?

Fusing science, research commercialisation, and entrepreneurship

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 explore and develop a career that fuses science, research, and entrepreneurship.

The MedTech Actuator Menzies Scholarship was pivotal for 2021 Scholars as the program provided them the opportunity to gain knowledge from leading industry experts, learn alongside Australia’s emerging healthcare entrepreneurs and receive mentorship from MedTech Actuator.

By leveraging 1:1 coaching, Scholars were challenged to envision their research hypothesis through a commercial lens. With direct exposure and integrated exploration of Australia’s startup ecosystem, the program set each awardee forward on a  path to innovate and create impact for human health.

Since the inaugural 2021 scholarship program, awardees have hit key milestones and taken their research ambitions to the next level, becoming ecosystem thought leaders and future founders of the next big startups in MedTech, BioTech, and HealthTech.

MedTech Actuator Origin 2021

A number of Scholars have continued their entrepreneurial journey, entering and participating in the MedTech Actuator Origin program. Pitching their innovations to the ecosystem, program participants included the following Scholars:

  • Dr Anushi Rajapaksa, Senior Research Officer, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and Founder, Think Project Global
    • Winner of the MedTech Actuator People’s Choice Award
    • Project: Developing rapid, life-saving drug delivery for children with infectious respiratory disease.
  • Dr Rowan Page, Lecturer and Industrial Design Program Director, Monash University.
    • MedTech Actuator Origin 2021 Semi-Finalist
    • Project: Developing a wearable light sensing device to guide people toward healthier light exposure patterns
  • Dr Sebastian Corlette, Anaesthetist, Royal Children’s Hospital and PhD Candidate, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and the University of Melbourne
    • MedTech Actuator Origin 2021 Semi-Finalist
    • Project: Developing a new sensor for high-quality, long-term electroencephalogram (EEG) measurement in young babies
  • Ritesh Warty, PhD candidate, Monash University
    • Project: Novel device for rehabilitating pelvic floor muscles in women with pelvic organ prolapse.
  • Ethan Grooby, PhD candidate, Monash University
    • MedTech Actuator Origin 2021 Finalist
    • Project: Developing a smart digital stethoscope and video system with a supporting app to help clinicians accurately and easily monitor newborn health.
  • Dr Chia-Chi Chien, Chief Scientific Officer, Research Fellow, OminiWell Pty Ltd
    • Winner of the EY MedTech Actuator Prize
    • Project: A novel device that provides researchers and clinicians with a safer and faster method of testing the drug treatment efficacy for cancer patients.
  • Alinta Furnell, Co-founder, Synbiote, and Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours) (Medical Biotechnology & Microbiology), University of NSW
    • Project: Developing a point of care diagnostic that enables people to rapidly test for multiple sexually transmitted infections in the comfort of their own home.
  • Ismat Kabbara, Co-founder, Synbiote and Master of Science in Anatomy, University of NSW
    • Project: Making biological materials for pharmaceuticals more efficient to manufacture and affordable

Synbiote, led by Scholars, Alinta and Ismat, has received a number of awards including the Sydney Knowledge Hub Research Collaboration Award, the IP Group Emerging Company Award, Tech for Good Hub scholarship 2022, Healthcare Category finalist in the Venture Further Awards 2022 and continues to make waves in the Australian BioTech scene. 

Becoming Ecosystem Leaders & Future Founders

2021 MedTech Actuator Menzies Scholar, Dr Anushi Rajapaksa, with mentor, Richard Sokolov, IDE Group, at the MedTech Actuator Showcase in December.
2021 MedTech Actuator Menzies Scholar, Dr Anushi Rajapaksa, with mentor, Richard Sokolov, IDE Group, at the MedTech Actuator Showcase in December.

The Scholarship encourages health researchers and innovators to build strong foundations in commercialisation and supports the scientific community’s capacity to bring innovation to the market. In doing so, the MedTech Actuator Menzies Scholarship helps to nurture the next generation of leaders in healthcare entrepreneurship.

A number of Scholars are continuing to make waves across Australia’s health and medical ecosystem, including:

  • Dr Anushi Rajapaksa who received a REDI fellowship with GSK for research project detailed above;
  • April Van Der Kamp, PhD Candidate, Flinders University, who has begun a PhD at Flinders University and is commercialising her research into a BioTech startup;
  • Ethan Grooby who is leading the team behind the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBS) International Student Conference (ISC) Series at Monash University;
  • Marta Orlowska, PhD Candidate, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute and Queensland University of Technology, who presented her PhD research at the 16th Congress of the Federation of Asian and Oceanian Biochemists and Molecular Biologists;
  • Julie Dao, PhD candidate, Monash University, who is the president of Monash Young MedTech Innovators and who completed the Startmate Women’s Fellowship in 2021;
  • Debolina Majumdar, PhD candidate, RMIT University was awarded the RMIT HDR Student Leader of the Year Award in 2021;
  • Dr Luke Visscher, Doctor, QLD Health; PhD candidate, Queensland University of Technology, who was awarded a Medical Research Fellowship at the AO Research Institute Davos, Switzerland; and,
  • Erin Humphries, Research Assistant at Children’s Medical Research Institute and Masters by Research Student at the University of Sydney, who was awarded the Females in Mass Spectrometry Empowerment Award in 2021.

Do you want to transform your impact?

Expressions of interest are now open for the 2022 MedTech Actuator Menzies Scholarships.

Register your expression of interest here or join MedTech Actuator CEO, Dr Buzz Palmer, and Menzies Foundation CEO, Liz Gillies, on June 7 for a Scholarship information session. Reserve your place today.

As a part of the scholarship, recipients will embark on a four-month scholarship, gaining knowledge from leading industry experts, work alongside Australia’s emerging healthcare entrepreneurs and receive mentorship from MedTech Actuator. 

Across an industry-led intensive sprint and mentorship, scholarship recipients will gain an extensive overview of entrepreneurship, the startup ecosystem, and the commercialisation process, as well as a one-off, $1,000 stipend to aid their 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.

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

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