$10 million in funding awarded to 11 projects to boost health innovations in Australia

The Federal Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, visited Monash to make this funding announcement.

MTPConnect – the Medical Technology, Biotechnology, and Pharmaceutical (MTP) Industry Growth Centre – and the Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, yesterday announced the first 11 recipients of $10 million investment from the Australian Government’s $35 million BioMedTech Horizons program. The program aims to help Australia move more cutting edge-ideas and breakthrough discoveries towards proof-of-concept and commercialisation, and stimulate collaboration across disciplines between the research, industry and technology sectors to maximize entrepreneurship and idea potential.

The Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) is represented in two of the 11 funded projects:

  • ‘Rapid diagnostic for the pathogens that cause sepsis’ – Biotech Resources, Monash University Centre for Biospectroscopy, The Alfred Hospital, Monash Health and Hydrix. The team is working to develop the world’s first rapid diagnostic text ‘Aimalux’ for the direct detection of the bacteria and fungi that cause sepsis from whole blood.
  • ‘Gennaris Neural Systems’ – Monash Vision Group, Alfred Health and MiniFAB. The group has developed a wireless Brain-Machine Interface offering the potential to bypass damage to nerves and neural pathways, restoring function to affected areas of the brain.

Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute’s (BDI) Dr Philip Heraud is Co-Director of the Centre for Biospectroscopy. Dr Yan Wong, Professor Marcello Rosa and Professor Ramesh Rajan were integral members of the team which developed and tested the Gennaris Neural System. This team also included several other researchers and PhD students from the Monash BDI.

Professor John Carroll, Director of the Monash BDI, spoke of the importance of translating research innovations and partnering with industry.

“At Monash BDI, our discoveries unlock biological problems so we can drive innovation, whether it be through developing new drugs or, as is the case here, new devices and diagnostics. These are going to lead to real step changes in how we treat disease, and, of course, this cannot be done in isolation, but involves collaboration across the university and the research sector,” Professor Carroll said.

“Monash BDI provides a strong platform for collaboration across disciplines and for partnering with clinicians and companies early in the discovery process. These two projects exemplify the success and possibilities that these collaborative efforts can bring, and I congratulate everyone involved.”

Sue MacLeman, Managing Director and CEO of MTPConnect, said the BioMedTech Horizons program is providing the necessary support to boost investment, commercialisation and success of health innovations in Australia.

“These first investments from the BioMedTech Horizons program are set to fuel ongoing innovation in Australia, in line with MTPConnect’s priorities for growth of the medical technology, biotechnology and pharmaceutical sector. These 11 outstanding projects address identified global megatrends including precision healthcare and the digital evolution, as well as forecasted areas of unmet clinical need, such as immunology and advanced prosthetics,” Ms MacLeman said.

Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, said, “The Turnbull Government is committed to improving the health services for all Australians and will continue to invest in better treatment, care and medical research.  Our researchers are innovators and this investment will speed up the journey from idea to reality. These technologies have the potential to create better health outcomes for Australians, while driving investment and strengthening our economy. All Australians benefit from investment in health and medical research.”

The BioMedTech Horizons program is being delivered as a part of the Australian Government’s $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund, which aims to transform health and medical research to improve lives, build the economy and contribute to health system sustainability through targeted strategic investment.

For more information on the BioMedTech Horizons program and first round recipients, click here.

Gennaris Neural Systems (GNS)
Monash University, Alfred Health, MiniFAB

Monash Vision Group (MVG) has developed a wireless Brain-Machine Interface (BMI, offering the potential to bypass damage to nerves and neural pathways, restoring function to affected areas of the brain. MVG’s Brain-Machine Interface has been implemented in a cortical vision prosthesis that is designed to bypass damage to the visual pathway and restore basic vision. This funding will assist the transition between preclinical and clinical programs, allowing the utility of the visual prosthesis to be demonstrated. A company will be established to manufacture MVG’s Brain-Machine Interface and commercialise the visual prosthesis. The aim of this company is to bring the product to market by 2021 to address the unmet need of a treatment for complete blindness. MVG’s cortical vision prosthesis has been designed to treat a range of blindness causes, such as glaucoma and optic nerve damage, which are not suitable for retinal implants. The successful commercialisation of this technology will establish Australia as an exporter of implantable medical devices, and global market leader in BMI manufacturing.

Rapid diagnostic for the pathogens that cause sepsis
Biotech Resources, Monash University Centre for Biospectroscopy, The Alfred Hospital, Monash Health, Hydrix

Biotech Resources (BTR) is working to develop the world’s first rapid diagnostic test ‘Aimalux’ for the direct detection of the bacteria and fungi that cause sepsis from whole blood. The technology and platform has been developed by the Monash University Centre for Biospectroscopy in Melbourne Australia. Sepsis is a life-threatening disease that results in the deaths of over 6 million people every year around the world, and more than 5,000 Australians. It is time critical medical emergency. Every hour without treatment increases a patient’s chance of dying by 7.6%. And yet there is no definitive test for sepsis with more than 30% of cases going misdiagnosed. If the symptoms of Sepsis are missed and treatment is not administered, then this can result in patient death. This also means that many patients are treated unnecessarily as a precaution, which has its own detrimental consequences as well as adding to the rise of antibiotic resistance super bugs. Aimalux aims to provide a diagnostic result within 35 minutes, to revolutionise the way sepsis is currently diagnosed, reduce healthcare costs, and save lives.

About MTPConnect

MTPConnect was formed as a not-for-profit organisation in November 2015 as part of the Australian Government’s Industry Growth Centres Initiative to accelerate the rate of growth of the MTP sector to achieve greater commercialisation and establish Australia as an Asia-Pacific hub for MTP companies.

The MTPConnect Head Office is located at the New Horizons Building at Monash University, co-located with CSIRO and industry. There are also key hubs at the University of Sydney’s Institute of Biomedical Engineering and Technology and the Medical Device Research Institute at Flinders University at Tonsley in Adelaide.

About Industry Growth Centres

The Industry Growth Centres Initiative is an industry-led approach driving innovation, productivity and competitiveness by focusing on areas of competitive strength and strategic priority. This will help Australia transition into smart, high value and export focused industries.

The Initiative enables national action on key issues such as collaboration, commercialisation, international engagement, skills and regulation reform. It drives excellence, not dependence, and will create an economy that ensures Australia’s ongoing prosperity. For more information: www.industry.gov.au/industrygrowthcentres