Spider venom to treat heart attack and stroke, technology to grow artificial human tissue, and the world’s first arthroscopic surgical robot are some of the homegrown innovations set to change healthcare around the world, as part of a Brisbane accelerator program for early-stage ventures.
The Brisbane Economic Development Agency (BEDA) has selected 11 innovative businesses to join the cohort of its MedTech Global Accelerator program, now in its second year, helping to fast-track their connections to international partners for collaboration, global investment opportunities, and distribution deals.
First launched in August 2022, BEDA’s MedTech accelerator program, delivered in partnership with US-based investment facilitator Life Science Nation, is heavily focused on mentorship and connection pathways.
Participants have access to a network of local and global mentors, including Vaxxas, Stryker, Life Science Queensland and Microba, and are connected to more than 300 global investors and strategic partners to fast-track investment and distribution deals.
This year’s cohort of interesting and inspiring leaders in the medtech entrepreneurial space include Infensa, a bioscience company developing therapeutics using funnel web spider venom to treat myocardial infarction and stroke, two of the leading causes of death worldwide.
Also in the cohort is health tech company Medicsen, which is developing a needle-free smart patch for painless delivery of large drugs like insulin, heparin or antibodies using safe ultrasound waves, with a mission to improve the quality of life of people living with chronic diseases.
WearOptimo, another company in the cohort, is developing a unique patent-protected adhesive patch embedded with sensors that can detect heart attacks and critical dehydration levels ahead of time for early detection. The company was backed by Aspen Medical in multi-million-dollar strategic deal in March 2022.
The University of Queensland (UQ)’s Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) is also in this year’s round for its development of a novel ultrasound technology that effectively removes the plaques that characterise Alzheimer’s disease, a condition that affects one in ten Australians aged 65 and over.
Supporting clinicians, researchers and health workers, PEP Health is included for creating innovation in the future of patient-centred healthcare. It has developed a new communications platform that provides a unique way for patients to monitor, manage and communicate their health journey with their clinical team to enhance healthcare and patient outcomes and reduce hospital readmissions.
Local innovation with global impact
Clinician, entrepreneur and founder of the Critical Care Research Group, Professor John Fraser is the program’s official ambassador to spearhead Brisbane's global reputation for medical innovation.
Fraser is the founder and chief medical officer of Brisbane med-tech company and accelerator alumnus De Motu Cordis, a clinical stage start-up developing a product platform for the emergency treatment of life-threatening conditions, including a needle-free epinephrine smart inhaler for the treatment of anaphylaxis.
“Brisbane’s success in biotech and health isn’t an overnight success story – it’s underpinned by the collective contribution of the city’s state of the art health institutes and universities, connected medical hospital network and top tier talent,” Fraser says.
“Brisbane is already seen as punching way above its weight in the MedTech industry and I’m honoured to fly the flag and help the city push even further ahead by amplifying Brisbane’s credentials as a leading destination for technology and innovation in the health sector.”
Adrian Schrinner, Brisbane’s Lord Mayor, says the city is a globally recognised leader in medical technology, powered by a vibrant start-up culture, world-class research and healthcare institutions and local talent.
“Brisbane’s world-class research and health institutes are incubators for ground-breaking innovations with the potential to improve patient outcomes, make healthcare faster and more convenient for people and even save lives,” Schrinner says.
“Brisbane has a global reputation for developing life-changing health innovation and the continued success of homegrown start-ups around the world will drive economic growth, create new jobs and continue attracting leading talent to the city.”
Making breakthroughs in medical science
Other innovative companies in this year’s cohort include Convergence Medical, which is developing the world's first arthroscopic surgical robot for a surgical procedure that makes up more than half of orthopaedic operations treating more than 3 million patients per year.
Australian biotechnology company Cyteph is recognised for developing a new immunotherapy innovation using off-the-shelf T-cell therapies to target and attack cancer cells to destroy tumours using the body’s own immune system.
Another Australian biotech, Fovero Therapeutics, is working on novel immunotherapies for treating immuno-oncology resistant cancer patients and the vast majority of colon cancers and triple-negative breast cancer.
A biotech company looking at the next generation of 3D cell technology, Gelomics, is using technology that enables scientists to grow human cells into artificial human tissues as a superior and ethical alternative to animal testing in biomedical research and development.
Vast Bioscience is developing non-opioid pain therapies to treat severe and chronic pain that traditionally relies heavily on highly addictive opioid medication, and internationally recognised leader in natural urological health, Seipel Group, is creating innovative formulations to improve urinary control at all life stages for men, women and children.
“The calibre of businesses participating in the MedTech Accelerator program is testament to the quality of the research and development happening in Brisbane, with more than half of last year’s cohort already securing new partnerships, investment and clients,” Schrinner says.
The accelerator program will culminate with attendance at the global investor RESI Conference in San Francisco, where participants will pitch to active investors during JP Morgan Healthcare Week in January 2024.
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