The health tech sector has received a funding injection designed to boost industry collaboration, improve support for researchers and accelerate market connections into Asia, with the announcement of three new MTPConnect grants.

The Medical Device Partnering Program, Asialink Business and the Industry Mentoring Network in STEM have been recognised for their efforts to propel the Australian ecosystem forward and into new territory with the $690,000 total cash injection.

“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 health tech community to take its ideas and products to the world,” MTPConnect CEO Dr Dan 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.”

Developed by the Medical Device Research Institute at South Australia’s Flinders University, the MDPP “ideas incubator” has a track record of developing medical devices, bringing them to market and creating commercial opportunities.

It has recently expanded into Victoria and Professor Karen Reynolds, Director of the Medical Device Research Institute and the MDPP, said the new funding will fuel the program’s national expansion next year.

“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,” Reynolds said.

“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.”

Via the program, anyone can submit a problem, idea or prototype. The MDPP then promotes collaboration between industry, end-users, researchers and government to bring viable products to life before undertaking rapid research projects that demonstrate proof of concept.

[Read more: “We could lead the world”: Australia’s MTP sector shows it's punching above its weight |Australian and US tech leaders enter alliance to boost health innovation]

IMNIS, an industry-led initiative of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering, is breaking down barriers between business and academia by linking PhD students with industry experts. About 300 PhD mentees are currently involved in the MTP program in five states and 17 organisations.

IMNIS Executive Director Dr Marguerite Evans-Galea said Phase II will see the project expand to reach a stunning proportion of PhD graduates and out into regional areas.

“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,” Evans-Galea said.

“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.”

Asialink Business is a new initiative designed to help Australian MTP companies make it in Asia, and the funding will lead to the development of two guides: ‘Digital Health in Indonesia’ and ‘Frugal Innovation in Medical Devices and Technologies in India’, as well as a report on the “Asia-capability” of the boards and senior executives of ASX-listed healthcare equipment and services companies.

The MTP sector is a considerable contributor to the Australian economy, generating about $4.4 billion in gross economic value added and $4 billion in annual manufacturing exports, while employing about 48,000 people.

The sector has a vibrant ecosystem of start-ups and established vendors, including more than 500 medtech companies, about 50 multinational pharmaceutical companies and more than 400 locally owned medical biotechnology companies.

MTPConnect’s Grant said the investments in these three projects takes the organisation’s Project Fund total investment in the sector to $15.6 million across 37 projects.

“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,” Grant said.

“We’re empowering our best and brightest and giving them every opportunity to take their products to the world.”

 

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