The Journey Towards a CRC-P Grant

Pictured: RMIT University Associate Professor Madhu Bhaskaran the lead researcher reviewing sensors. Photo by Mark Dadswell for Sleeptite.

At a time when technological advances focused on making life easier are being released on a daily basis, a Melbourne-based company, Sleeptite, is developing technology to make life better for older Australians.

The company's unique sensors, born out of a productive university-industry collaboration, will provide real-time data to help monitor aged care residents in a non-invasive manner. Their journey from idea to commercial product received a major boost with help from MTPConnect with their Round 5 CRC-P grant application.

Approximately 3.8 million Australians[1] - one in seven of us – were aged 65 and over and in 2017. The Federal Government’s latest Intergenerational Report[2] predicts that number will more than double by 2055. Both the number and proportion of Australians aged 85 and over will also grow rapidly to nearly 5 per cent of the population or nearly 2 million people by 2055.

In the context of a rapidly ageing population, a recent Australian Medical Association Aged Care Survey[3] found that the most urgent aged care issue is the availability of suitably trained and experienced nurses and other aged care workers. And experience has shown that disturbed sleep can lead to an increased number of falls and injuries, putting more pressure on already stretched aged care staff.

Recognising the opportunity for sector-wide benefits from a product which could help give aged care residents a better night’s sleep, Sleeptite CEO, Cameron van den Dungen, has spent more than 10 years investigating new bedding. With the help of Australian manufacturing company Sleepeezee and a team of researchers at RMIT University, the company is now developing a one-of-a-kind, non-invasive medical-grade resident monitoring system.

Using integrated sensors that will provide biometric analysis of a person’s vital signs while they rest in bed, the Sleeptite system will provide nurses, carers and aged care residence managers with greater insight into the real-time health and wellbeing of the patients and residents within their care. This non-invasive approach reduces the need for night wakings – and provides for the best night’s sleep possible for the person being monitored.

While extremely promising, Sleeptite’s product required development funding.

“We initially applied for Round 4 of the CRC-P in 2017 but were unsuccessful in our bid,” Mr van den Dungen says.

“As a result, we sought out MTPConnect and their feedback and review process was arguably one of the most critical elements of our successful Round 5 CRC-P grant application.”

Sleeptite was awarded a $1.7 million CRC-P grant in 2018. MTPConnect has a track record of assisting entities with pre-submission review of their translational and industry-focused product development competitive grant applications in the CRC, CRC-P, and ITRP programs. MTPConnect input, led by General Manager Stakeholder Engagement, Dr Alfredo Martinez-Coll, has resulted in 26 successful grants leading to more than $125 million of funding flowing into the MTP sector.

Mr van den Dungen says with CRC-P funding secured, his team is now well on the way to developing a product that will be a world-first.

“Australia has the chance to become world leaders when it comes to applying technology to boost the quality of health care provided to its elderly,” he predicts.

“The technology not only supports valuable care workers but enables them to provide greater care than they believe is possible, and at a cost that is more affordable than the assistance currently on offer.”

Pictured (left to right): Sleeptite CEO Cameron van den Dungen, RMIT University Vice Chancellor's Fellow Sumeet Walia, RMIT University Associate Professor Madhu Bhaskaran, RMIT University Associate Professor Sharath Sriram and Sleepeezee Australia Managing Director Bill Mantzis. Photo by Mark Dadswell.

Sleeptite is a great example of what can be achieved through collaboration between research and industry; in this case, Melbourne’s RMIT University and Sleepeezee.

RMIT’s Associate Professor Madhu Bhaskaran says Sleeptite’s product has the potential to make a real difference in aged care facilities across Australia.

“Australia will soon have a large proportion of older people in its population and there are growing concerns around ageing well and ageing productively,” A/Prof Bhaskaran says.

“We need disruptive innovation and the fact that I can work closely with Sleeptite and other partners to translate my sensor research to benefit the aged care sector is fantastic.”

For more information, visit Sleeptite to learn more.

1 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Older Australia at a glance. Retrieved 5 December 2018.

2 Treasury, 2015 Intergenerational Report. Retrieved on 5 December 2018

3 Australian Medical Association Aged Care Survey, AMA Aged Care Survey Report. Retrieved on 5 December 2018