Nanoneedles and navigating the path to commercialisation: A guide for academics

Nanotechnology researchers from Monash University have published an article in the high impact journal, Nature Nanotechnology, highlighting the opportunities and challenges involved in commercialising nanoneedle technology for sensing and clinical use.

Commercial interest in nanoneedle technologies has boomed due to their emergence as simple, controllable and powerful tools to efficiently access cells with minimal disturbance. As a result, start-ups are rapidly cropping up with the aim to develop and implement nanoneedle products and services as competitive solutions for sensing, along with transforming gene and cell therapies.

In the Nature article titled ‘The start-ups taking nanoneedles into the clinic’, the Monash nanotechnology experts break down the burgeoning advances and strong commercial activities of nanoneedle technology, and discuss how academics can make the most of this exciting opportunity.

Dr Roey Elnathan, who holds an Adjunct position with the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS) and is the lead author, said that when it comes to nanoneedle technology, many more start-ups are needed to make the technology mainstream. He said in order to make that happen, emerging researchers must be supported to develop industry-relevant skills to translate their findings, including a culture of entrepreneurship and investment, advanced manufacturing practice, and how to engage effectively with potential players.

“Around the world, university-bred entrepreneurs are spurring scientific and technological innovations in the nanoneedle space, which is now leading to practical and exciting applications in sensing, therapeutic and diagnostic technologies,” said Dr Elnathan.

“However, we believe that more resources should be devoted to educating our emerging entrepreneurs that teaches them how to embrace research commercialisation from the conceptual stages right through to translation and, ultimately, end-users.”

Co-author Nicolas Voelcker, a professor at MIPS and Scientific Director of the Melbourne Centre for Nanofabrication, said that the aim of the article is to highlight important lessons from the early evolution of start-ups focussing on nanoneedle technology.

“Taking the first steps towards launching a university nanotech spin-off is a rollercoaster ride — a considerable departure from the fundamental research ecosystem,” said Professor Voelcker.

“We hope that this article can help academics decide what to consider when launching a bionanotech start-up, including how to access resources and capital, construct a business model, optimise risk management and gain IP protection.”

To read the full article visit: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41565-022-01158-5

Dr Elnathan and Prof Voelcker have collaborated for many years in the area of nanoneedle technologies and Dr Elnathan was previously a senior research fellow at MIPS. He now holds an ARC DECRA Fellow position at Deakin University’s School of Medicine within the Faculty of Health.

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