Blog: The MTP Sector is responding to our call to action

21 July 2017

Picture: Elizabeth Stares with Rena Cruz at the Biofabrication and Tissue Morphology Group at the Queensland University of Technology.

With the second round of our $15.6 million Project Fund Program now open for expressions of interest, Dr Elizabeth Stares, our Director of Major Projects, has been traveling the country to catch up with those who have exciting ideas to boost our sector as a whole. Read on to learn more and be sure to book a meeting with us in Tasmania, Adelaide or Melbourne to take advantage of tailored advice to strengthen your application.

With the release of the MTPConnect project guidelines and the accompanying documentation on the 15th June, I presented my first webinar the following week to provide an overview of the MTPConnect Project Fund Program and how applicants can strengthen their submissions. We overcame the inevitable technical issues to present to over 60 interested parties, with a further 40 or so more watching the recording – an incredible response! We have now had more than 400 downloads of the MTPConnect project guidelines and EOI document, and are excitedly anticipating receiving the submissions and reviewing the big ideas to boost our sector

Over the past few weeks, I have commenced a nation-wide tour of open desks, where possible aligned with events and seminars in the states, and I have been so impressed with the sector's response so far.

Sydney saw Alfredo and I meeting with eleven groups of prospective projects, with projects ranging from Asia links to clinical trials. There were also a few attendees who did not quite fit the requirements for MTPConnect projects, and we were able to guide them to connect with relevant contacts and programs such as ANDHealth and CRC-P applications.

In Brisbane, we met with seven prospective projects, that were well considered with some 2016 projects returning to discuss new ideas for 2017 applications.

Whilst in Brisbane I visited the Biofabrication and Tissue Morphology Group at QUT, where a 2016 project is located - Rena Cruz is responding to the challenge presented by Mia Woodruff and working with Mathilde Desselle in developing a method of 3D scanning of the ears of children with Microtia (deformed ears from birth), and investigating both temporary 3D printed silicone prosthetics and implantable 3D printed constructs to assist affected children. Their aim is to replace the invasive nature of taking physical moulds and the associated costs of up to $100,000 per model, with non-contact scanning and production for the cost of a pair of glasses – what a fantastic opportunity for Australian children born with this condition, and for the advancement of 3D printed medical technology.

From Brisbane Mel and I traveled to the Gold Coast, (ignoring the call of the theme parks) and attended the ‘Stem Cells Australia Retreat – Transitioning to the future’. The retreat was full of inspirational speakers and students, with some fantastic solutions to disease mapping and potential solutions. There is a way to go to get these from the lab to the patient, both for the research and regulation, but this collaboration with Stem Cells Australia is leading the way for Australia.

Six groups attended the open desks at Griffith University in the Gold Coast, and displayed some impressive background in digital knowledge and bio-fabrication.

Traveling across the country to Perth saw me at a BioZone / ARC ITTC training seminar in Perth at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical research, with ten presentations on capability from the members, and a Raine Visiting Professor Lecture from Shulamit Levenberg, Technion, Israel Institute of Technology on vascularization dynamics in engineered tissues. I also managed to visit CERI – who are running another MTPConnect granted project, Accelerating Australia – a national consortium for translational medical technology and pharmaceuticals research and training.

A final nine meetings were held in Perth to discuss projects.

Future open desks are in:

So if you are interested in proposing a 2017 MTPConnect project visit for more information, download the SCP and book to join us for the remaining open desks – present your projects – and let us work with you to guide your application or find partners for your consortium.

The deadline for project applications is 31st August 2017 at 4pm AEST.