Virtual claps for industry engagement event contestants

Associate Professor Sheena McGowan introducing the finalists in the Monash BDI So you think you can pitch? competition.

Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute’s(BDI) fourth annual Industry Showcase and its centrepiece So You Think You Can Pitch? competition gained a different dimension this year as the event went virtual. The field was strong, the content exciting and the quality of the pitches described as excellent.

The event, held this year on 8 December, provides an opportunity to showcase and promote the growing pipeline of discoveries at the Institute to industry partners, facilitates networking between industry and academia networking, and offers a spotlight for the Institute’s early career researchers (ECRs) to speak of their translational research.

About 50 attended including the Monash BDI Director Professor John Carroll, Deputy Director Dena Lyras, Dr Gerard Gibbs, Senior Director of sponsor BiomedTech Horizons at MTPConnect, industry judges, mentors and sponsors.

Monash BDI’s Director of Industry Engagement  Associate Professor Sheena McGowan launched the event.

“Here at the BDI, like for all Victorians and Australians, it’s been a tough year but we are proud of what we have achieved and how quickly our entire, amazing BDI team of talented researchers, educators and professional staff have adapted, worked together and paved the way to our new normal,” Associate Professor McGowan said.

“Going online was the only option we had this year but there was good engagement with the chat function on Zoom and it allowed the ECRs to learn a new skill, standing in front of the camera,” she said. “The quality of the pitches was excellent and the diversity really stood out this year. It shows how much different science is done in this Institute.”

Professor Carroll said the So You Think You Can Pitch? competition aims to challenge the Institute’s early career researchers to consider how their research or innovative idea might be pitched to investors. “This is often a big change in the way our ECRs think of their research,” he said.

There were four finalists this year representing three of the BDI Discovery Programs. They recorded their pitches at the Faculty’s MicroStudio, given only two takes in the studio to simulate the “real” live event. The finalists were also afforded two sessions with mentors to help them prepare their pitch and ideas. The mentors were:

  • Dr Andrew Ellisdon from the Monash BDI
  • Mr Julian Vultaggio, Associate Commercialisation Manager at Monash Innovation
  • Mrs Sian Slade, Consultant Health Equity
  • Dr Tracey Brown, Global director of clinical operations for Telix.

This year’s winner was Dr Jennifer Payne, from the Infection and Immunity Program for her pitch, entitled ‘Fatal attractants: immunotherapeutics to prevent the next global health crisis’. Dr Payne also won the People’s Choice (audience) vote.

Runner-up, also from the Infection and Immunity Program, was Dr Sri Ramarathinam for ‘Scan the barcode: Detecting and validating targets in cancer’.

The other finalists were Dr Sarah Lockie from the Metabolism, Diabetes and Obesity Program (Targeting hunger circuits in the brain to treat cancer cachexia?), and Dr Amlan Chakraborty from the Cardiovascular Disease Program (SNDC - a new hope for fish out of water).

The judges said they were thankful for the opportunity to review some of the exciting research being performed at the Monash BDI and congratulated the four presenters on the excellent job they did in putting together their slides and their pitches. They were:

  • Dr Siro Perez, who leads the Life Sciences team of investment company IP Group Australia
  • Dr Cathy Drinkwater, Director of Project Management, BioCurate Pty Ltd
  • Dr Rob Crombie, Managing Director of Concept2Clinic Consulting

Associate Professor McGowan thanked MTPConnect and Medical Research Commercialisation Fund for sponsoring the first and runner-up prizes for the competition. The Monash BDI was the sponsor for the People’s choice award.

Watch Dr Jennifer Payne’s pitch Fatal attractants: immunotherapeutics to prevent the next global health crisis’. Dr Payne took out first prize and the People’s Choice prize in this year’s So you think you can pitch? competition.
Watch Dr Sri Ramarathinam’s pitch ‘Scan the barcode: Detecting and validating targets in cancer’. Dr Ramarathinam took out second place in this year’s So you think you can pitch? Competition.
Watch finalist Dr Sarah Lockie’s pitch ‘Targeting hunger circuits in the brain to treat cancer cachexia?’
Watch finalist Dr Amlan Chakraborty’s pitch ‘SNDC - a new hope for fish out of water.’

About the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute

Committed to making the discoveries that will relieve the future burden of disease, the newly established Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute at Monash University brings together more than 120 internationally-renowned research teams. Our researchers are supported by world-class technology and infrastructure, and partner with industry, clinicians and researchers internationally to enhance lives through discovery.