14 September 2022
Pictured from left: MTPConnect staff, Dr Vishal Srivastava Director BMTH Program, Rebekah Craggs Stakeholder Engagement Coordinator WA, Elizabeth Stares Director BMTH Program, Corporate Reporting and Risk Management, Dr Tracey Wilkinson Director Stakeholder Engagement WA, Dr Gerard Gibbs Senior Director BMTH Program, Stuart Dignam CEO. and Dean Nedelkos Manager Stakeholder Engagement WA.
Wrapping up the BioMedTech Horizons (BMTH) team visit to WA, the WA BMTH Showcase event last Friday celebrated some of the state’s latest innovations giving WA BMTH-funded awardees the opportunity to present their projects and the progress made so far.
The Showcase opening address was delivered by the Hon. Stephen Dawson MLC, WA’s Minister for Innovation, ICT and Medical Research, and the audience at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research also heard from the seven BMTH awardees about their innovation and commercialisation journeys.
The Showcase came about after a conversation between the two MTPConnect teams – the WA Life Sciences Innovation Hub team based in Perth and the BMTH team based in Melbourne and NSW. With a lot happening in WA in the life sciences and medtech sector and the BMTH team scheduling site visits to its seven awardees in the state in September, it provided a fantastic opportunity to work together to profile some WA companies developing new medical technologies.
Senior Director BMTH program Dr Gerard Gibbs said presenting at the Showcase also allowed the companies to discuss their impact on the medtech sector.
“This included their business growth in terms of jobs and fundraising, their impact on the health of Australians and their clinical trials in WA hospitals – bringing critical care advances directly into WA.
Making connections and discussing opportunities
“The presentations gave the Minister and the 85 attendees an understanding of awardees projects, staff recruitment ambitions and clinical trial activities. The networking lunch afterwards provided a good occasion for everyone attending to make connections, discuss internships and recruitment opportunities, which was worthwhile for all involved,” Dr Gibbs said.
The event was delivered by the MTPConnect WA Life Sciences Innovation Hub, a partnership between MTPConnect, the WA Government and the University of Western Australia (UWA) to accelerate the growth of the state’s MTP sector, create new jobs and support economic diversification. Located at UWA in the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research Building, Nedlands, it is one of the four WA Government Innovation Hubs that deliver programs to connect the innovation community, build capacity and new skills, attract investment, and foster commercialisation.
Roundtable meeting with WA’s Minister for Innovation, ICT and Medical Research
Dr Tracey Wilkinson, who is MTPConnect’s Director Stakeholder Engagement Western Australia and leads the WA Hub, said the WA Minister’s involvement was extremely valuable and showed positive support for those in the health and medical innovation ecosystem in WA.
“All awardees met with the Minister in a roundtable set up in advance of our Showcase. They were able to directly discuss the type of support they need to successfully commercialise innovations with the Hon. Stephen Dawson MLC, which gave the Minister and his department a better understanding of the sector’s needs within the next five years. It was also exciting to see the companies start to discuss how they might collaborative to address some of these challenges and I look forward to supporting them to further develop these ideas,” Dr Wilkinson said.
Delivered by MTPConnect, the Australian Government's $45 million BioMedTech Horizons program is a Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) initiative to support innovative collaborative health technologies, drive discoveries towards proof-of-concept, and commercialisation that address key health challenges as well as maximise entrepreneurship and idea potential. Across four funding rounds, the BMTH program has funded 49 projects, supporting proof-of-concept to commercial development of biomedical and medical technologies.
Face-to-face site visits create deeper understanding
Leading up to the Showcase event, the BMTH team visited all seven of its WA-based awardees on site for in-person project updates with Advanced Genetic Diagnostics, Artrya, Cortical Dynamics, Ear Science Institute Australia, OncoRes Medical, Proteomics International and VitalTrace.
Dr Gerard Gibbs said these in-person visits with awardees provided a richness of project information and additional details about the projects that were not often included in term reports.
“Visiting the companies in-person provided more of an understanding of the complexities of each project, the progress made and the local manufacturing plans for the products as well. Companies detailed the difference the BMTH funding had made to their innovation projects, through enabling staff expansion, driving progress and leveraging follow on investment.
Strengthening our ongoing connection
“We were also able to add value by providing links to others in the medical products sector to collaborate, advise or mentor our awardees, discuss follow on funding – including MTPConnect’s Clinical Translation and Commercialisation Medtech Program (CTCM) – and discuss any challenges or barriers the projects may need to overcome,” Dr Gibbs said.
Summing up the week of activities, Dr Wilkinson said: “It was great to be able to join the BMTH meetings with each of the companies throughout the week – strengthening our ongoing connection with these companies – and hear how we can continue to assist them to complete their BMTH-funded projects and commercialise their medtech products.
“There is a real buzz in WA’s health and medical innovation sector right now and it’s terrific to be part of that,” Dr Wilkinson said.