APR.Intern Lights the Way for New Industry-University Collaboration on Disinfection Technology

Caption:  APR.Intern, Ms Mahjabeen Khan from the University of New South Wales (UNSW), said she learnt how to work in a multidisciplinary team at MUVi and would highly recommend the APR.Intern program to others.

With COVID-19 spreading by aerosols and contaminated surfaces in hospitals and healthcare settings, a medtech disinfection systems start-up, Mobile UV Innovations (MUVi), developed a new device that uses Ultraviolet photon light to rapidly disinfect hospitals. To fast-track testing, MUVi engaged a UNSW PhD intern via APR.Intern to ensure the new device's efficacy ... with great results.

Ultraviolet (UVC) photon light has long been known for its antimicrobial and disinfecting efficacy.

At the forefront of this UVC photon light technology is Mobile UV Innovations (MUVi) — Melbourne-based medtech start-up that designs and develops disinfection systems for hospitals, healthcare, and medical sectors.

When COVID-19 led the healthcare sector to re-evaluate systems, MUVi started developing a new device that used UVC light to rapidly disinfect hospital and medical equipment and contaminated surfaces, and to minimise the spread of aerosol and surfaces from highly infectious multi-resistance microorganisms.

Matched with a PhD intern from UNSW

To fast-track testing, the team engaged a PhD intern through APR.Intern, with financial support from MTPConnect's REDI Initiative  funded by the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF). MUVi was matched with Ms Mahjabeen Khan from the University of New South Wales (UNSW), who specialised in microbiology.

Over a 6-month internship, with the guidance of her Academic Mentor, UNSW's Professor Mark Willcox, Ms Khan applied her expertise to design experiments, test and analyse the efficacy of MUVi's new device.

Reported results revealed the MUVi UVC photon light device killed approximately 99.99 per cent of all tested microorganisms including bacteria, fungi and a COVID-19 surrogate.

A good opportunity

Ms Khan said the internship was a good opportunity to collaborate with people from different backgrounds.

"I learnt how to work in a multidisciplinary team and how to develop reports per industry requirements, which differ from academic ones. I would highly recommend the APR.Intern program to others," Ms Khan said.

For MUVi Director, Murray McDonald, the APR.Intern project was an opportunity to gain local Australian microbial research data and build a strong pathway into Australia's university research sector.

Access to critical talent resources

"APR.Intern, and the financial support we received from MTPConnect, allowed our start-up to access critical talent resources to undertake key testing data at a valued research institution (UNSW)," said Murray.

"The project results have the potential to create new job opportunities and bring greater benefits to sectors beyond just healthcare," he added.

Following the successful internship, MUVi and UNSW have applied for two international grants to continue their innovative industry-university research.

Through our REDI initiative, Australian Postgraduate Research Intern (APR.Intern) provides eligible companies in the medtech, biotech and pharmaceutical sector with a rebate to take on a talented PhD student in a short-term subsidised industry placement. These placements allow businesses to fast-track R&D, while students are given the opportunity to develop in a practical industry research environment — strengthening research translation within the sector.

APR.Intern is Australia's only all sector—all discipline PhD internship program, transforming Australian businesses through university research collaborations. aprintern.org.au