REDI: Driving entrepreneurship education to solve global health challenges

In 2020, medtech start-up MUVi was one of five companies selected to take part in Health 10x: a health pre-accelerator and accelerator program run in partnership by The George Institute for Global Health and the University of New South Wales. The technology company was chosen, among other criteria, for its potential to improve healthcare in emerging markets.

MUVi's Melbourne-based team, led by founder Murray McDonald, has developed a mobile device that uses rapid ultraviolet (UV) disinfection, decontamination and monitoring technology to tackle the burden of healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs), which are responsible for one death every three minutes globally.

The MUVi device aims to safeguard against human cleaning errors in clinical environments, and consequently reduce the risk of complications or deaths from HAIs and 'superbugs' – initiating a new paradigm in disinfection technology and infectious disease management.

During and following its involvement in Health 10x, MUVi made key industry connections, successfully acquired non-diluted funding, focused its development and ensured it was investment-ready.

Last year, MUVi's potential to save lives was tested with the onset of COVID-19. The company launched COVID-19 trials of its UV technology, together with leading researchers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW). It has since been used in several hospitals in Wuhan, China - the site of the first confirmed coronavirus cases.

"Our team was addressing the risk of hospital acquired infections through highly contaminated, frequently touched surfaces, in particular with vulnerable patients with medical conditions within healthcare facilities," MUVi Founder and CEO Murray McDonald said.

"Having a digital monitoring and alert system can help to ensure equipment and rooms are regularly disinfected."

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, it's never been more important to support the companies that are endeavouring to deliver rapid, affordable and effective innovations in healthcare. Health 10x will continue to help Australian health innovators build successful social enterprises, so they can improve quality of care in the communities that need it most.

Supporting health entrepreneurs

The Health 10x accelerator, delivered jointly by The George Institute's Genovate team and UNSW's Founders Program, was designed to help start-ups tackle global health challenges, particularly the rise of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in under-served markets.

According to the World Health Organization, NCDs such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung disease are collectively responsible for almost 70 percent of all deaths worldwide, yet they've been left largely unaddressed in emerging and low-to-middle income countries. Private companies and entrepreneurs are therefore stepping in to fill essential gaps in the market - and, as with MUVi, Health 10x is helping them on their way.

The two-phase (pre-accelerator and accelerator) program offers a select group of start-ups access to the expertise, global research and clinical network of The George Institute, which delivers the program in partnership with UNSW Founders. Participants receive entrepreneurship education tailored to their level of business development, covering regulatory compliance modules and other key topics, ranging from health economics to clinical trials.

In 2020, Health 10x was presented exclusively online. Virtual events gave participating start-ups the opportunity to validate their assumptions and offerings. To ensure the program linked to their end-user markets, a dedicated India immersion experience was incorporated, where start-ups gained a thorough understanding of the Indian health and innovation ecosystem; connected with stakeholders in the local healthcare sector; heard from expert speakers; and participated in virtual tours and an Indian pitch night.

The Health 10x program is subsidised by MTPConnect's Researcher Exchange and Development within Industry (REDI) initiative, which is funded through the Australian Government's Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF). 

REDI supports a number of training and development programs that are driving skills growth and training in the medical technology, biotechnology and pharmaceutical (MTP) workforce.