Three key life sciences projects have been awarded a total of $690,000 in new funding to support researchers, improve collaboration with industry and open-up international market opportunities.
The funding comes from MTPConnect, the Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals Industry Growth Centre.
MTPConnect CEO Dr Dan Grant announced that the funding has been awarded to the Industry Mentoring Network in STEM (IMNIS), the Medical Device Partnering Program (MDPP) and Asialink Business.
"Each of these projects - IMNIS, MDPP and Asialink Business - is characterised by increased collaboration between research and industry, a focus on achieving commercial outcomes and building the capacity of Australia's healthtech community to take its ideas and products to the world," Dr Grant said.
"Collaboration across disciplines, between researchers and industry, and across the states and territories, is a key driver of success for the MTP sector.
"It's also vital that we build the capacity of Australian MTP companies to engage with international markets to better access global supply chains and position Australia as a preferred international partner."
The Industry Mentoring Network in STEM
A recipient of funding in MTPConnect's initial 2016 Project Fund Program, this project links PhD students with industry experts and aims to narrow the cultural gap between business and academia.
Led by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences, IMNIS MTP programs are now on offer in five states, across 17 organisations and involving around 300 PhD mentees.
IMNIS Executive Director, Dr Marguerite Evans-Galea says Phase II of the project is about reaching even more people.
"MTPConnect's continued support with this new round of funding will take IMNIS to the next level by expanding its existing programs to include 10 per cent of Australia's PhD graduates in medical technologies and pharmaceuticals," Dr Evans Galea added.
"We'll also be able to develop ways to offer programs to universities in regional Australia and explore virtual mentoring to extend our reach even further."
The Medical Device Partnering Program
Developed by the Medical Device Research Institute at Flinders University in South Australia, this program was also a recipient of funds from MTPConnect's 2016 Project Fund Program.
The program has seen fantastic results in developing new medical devices, streamlining the complex process of bringing new products to market and creating new commercial opportunities for traditional and local manufacturers in South Australia. It has recently expanded into Victoria, with support from the Victorian Government and LaunchVic.
Professor Karen Reynolds, Director of the Medical Device Research Institute and the MDPP, says her ambition has always been to create a national program.
"This new funding from MTPConnect will allow us to build on our successes in South Australia and pursue the expansion of the MDPP on a national scale," Professor Reynolds explained.
"The support will allow us to formalise partnerships, establish a comprehensive national capability directory and create extensive training materials, with the aim to commence operations of a national MDPP in 2019."
This is a new project that will assist Australian MTP companies realise commercial opportunities in Asia. The project will see development of two guides: 'Digital Health in Indonesia' and 'Frugal Innovation in Medical Devices and Technologies in India.' It will also develop a report on the current levels of Asia-capability of boards and senior executives of ASX-listed health care equipment and services companies.
Asialink Business CEO, Mukund Narayanamurti says the projects are an important step towards growing Australia's future competitiveness in this significant industry in Asia.
"The industry guides we're producing with funding support from MTPConnect will be an invaluable resource for globally-minded Australian MTP companies," Mr Narayanamurti said.
"By providing country and sector specific information, Australian MTP companies can better inform and facilitate their Asia expansion and in-country planning.
"Separately, assessing the Asia-capabilities of ASX listed MTP companies will more effectively enable bridging the gap between strategy and execution for these companies in the future in Asia."
Dr Dan Grant says MTPConnect is making a substantial contribution to the growth of Australia's vibrant MTP sector and clinical trials ecosystem.
"With these three projects funded, MTPConnect's Project Fund program has invested a total of $15.6 million across 37 collaborative projects, engaging over 160 consortium members and leveraging $25.7 million from industry," he said.
"We are working to forge stronger connections between research and industry, maximising opportunities for Australians to not only make scientific and technological breakthroughs, but to see them developed through the proof-of-concept stage and successfully commericalised.
"We're empowering our best and brightest and giving them every opportunity to take their products to the world."