REDI News: Clinical Entrepreneur Program Officially Launches in NSW, VIC and WA

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06 September 2022

Pictured: L-R Prof. Jane Gunn, Dean of Medicine at University of Melbourne, Dr Brandon Carp, AUSCEP Chief Clinical Entrepreneur, Juliana Addison MP, Member for Wendouree, Ken Jefferd, University of Melbourne Executive Director of Research, Innovation and Commercialisation and MTPConnect CEO Stuart Dignam - wearing the brand at the Melbourne launch!  Image credit: @ carmenzammit

The Australian Clinical Entrepreneur Program (AUSCEP) – a pilot project funded by MTPConnect’s $32 million Researcher Exchange and Development within Industry (REDI) initiative, made possible by the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) – was launched yesterday simultaneously in Melbourne and Sydney, and Perth.

Co-designed by clinicians for clinicians, the AUSCEP pilot will help equip healthcare professionals with the skills to translate and commercialise their ideas and innovation into impactful solutions; drive the development of solutions that will be used by patients and healthcare providers both in Australia and around the world to address key challenges; effect cultural change within the healthcare system by encouraging entrepreneurialism; and retain talented clinical staff who might otherwise leave to pursue entrepreneurial ambitions.

Clinicians’ skills gap identified

Speaking at the AUSCEP Melbourne launch, MTPConnect CEO Mr Stuart Dignam said REDI identified the entrepreneurship and commercialisation skills gap in its second REDI Skills Gap Report in March 2021 – Driving skills development and workforce training for the future MTP workforce.

“The report found that successfully harnessing the potential of clinician entrepreneurs could make a real difference to the growth of Australia’s medical sector. MTPConnect then searched for the best examples of commercialisation programs worldwide and identified the UK Clinical Entrepreneur Program which impacted 34.6 million patients in its first four years, as well as enabling 246 start-ups creating 1,371 jobs with AUD $500 million funding raised,” Mr Dignam said.

“Our REDI program then engaged a consultant to help ‘Australianise’ a CEP program for the federated health system here, with support for the two-year pilot program provided by State government departments in NSW, Victoria and WA.

Excited for the partnership delivering AUSCEP

“After a national tender, the University of Melbourne and University of Western Australia partnership was awarded the contract and we are excited this partnership is delivering this REDI funded program – the AUSCEP,” Mr Dignam said.

MTPConnect Director Stakeholder Engagement NSW and ACT Dr Duncan Macinnis spoke about how AUSCEP was developed at the Sydney launch, and at the Perth AUSCEP launch, Director Stakeholder Engagement Western Australia Dr Tracey Wilkinson did the honours.

The University of Melbourne and University of Western Australia partnership delivering AUSCEP also includes more than 20 other associates, of which five are major hospitals.

The program aims to accelerate ideas that have the potential to change healthcare for the benefit of patients, staff and the broader health system in any area such as digital health, medical devices, service delivery improvements, new ground-breaking treatments or diagnostics.

Upskill and make impact

AUSCEP Chief Clinical Entrepreneur Dr Brandon Carp said at the launch: “Clinicians are uniquely placed to identify problems, see opportunities and understand how best to navigate the health landscape to create solutions – but introducing solutions is difficult without first having the knowledge, networks and experience.

“That is where the program can have the most impact. AUSCEP acts both as a personal development program for clinicians by developing their commercial skills, as well as an accelerator to test and scale ideas. It will upskill clinicians through an eight pit stop program that includes defining the problem, refining the solution, building a team and raising capital,” Dr Carp said.

By developing the commercial skills, knowledge and networks of clinicians not often taught in medical training, it is hoped the program will remove the barriers associated with developing and scaling innovation in Australia's healthcare system.

Share learnings, build commercial knowledge, make the right connections

Professor John Prins, Head of the Melbourne Medical School, the University of Melbourne, and AUSCEP Executive Sponsor, said of the first of a kind program in Australia that is will be a game changer.

“Looking back at my own clinical entrepreneurial experience, I could have grown more efficiently had I not made common and simple mistakes along the way. This program will make it easier for the next generation of clinical entrepreneurs because they will be connected to clinicians who have the experience. They can share learnings, build the commercial knowledge and make the right connections needed to bring innovation to the Australian healthcare system,” Professor Prins said.

The two-year pilot will be run in three states – Victoria, NSW and Western Australia, and has dedicated clinical leads representing each state.

High quality applicants and diversity of innovations

WA-based AUSCEP Co-Clinical Lead Dr Carlo Bellini, said: “We are incredibly pleased to launch the AUSCEP. The quality of applicants is testament to the talent we have in Australia – healthcare professionals who are passionate about innovating healthcare and improving patient outcomes.”

NSW-based AUSCEP Co-Clinical Lead Dr Amandeep Hansra, said: “We are thrilled with the diversity of innovations and ideas that have emerged from the applications received. It demonstrates there are ideas and innovation out there, but there are still real barriers hindering development and adoption. We are going to change that by boosting the skills of the healthcare workforce to make a lasting impact”.

Ongoing coaching and mentoring with experienced clinical entrepreneurs are part of the 12-month program, as well as access to extensive hospital and industry networks both in Australia and internationally. If the pilot is a success, it will be rolled out nationally.

Find out more about AUSCEP.