This month, Medtech startups can apply for the chance to work at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute (MCRI) in Melbourne to develop their product or service for the healthcare industry.
A new program called Bytes4Health – launched as a partnership between MCRI and health technology firm, Curve Tomorrow – invites two digital health and MedTech startups to access medical research, clinical expertise and digital health product development experience.
Winning startups will spend four months within the MCRI working closely with the research and clinical teams, and receive $25,000 towards the development of their technology offering. Winners will collaborate on product design and development with Curve Tomorrow’s guidance, and promising early stage projects with commercial potential may also benefit from MCRI’s $1 million seed fund.
The collaborative model of Bytes4Health also includes access to KPMG advisors for R&D tax guidance and business advice, plus access to Amazon Web Service engineering and solutions architecture team, and US$5,000 worth of AWS credits for the four-month period.
The partnership has led to 30 new products and services over the last few years, including the HeadCheck app, which helps parents and coaches recognise symptoms of concussion in children and adolescents.
According to Dr James Dromey, head of commercialisation & legal for MCRI, the program’s success is based on the convergence and integration of technology and healthcare in the development of digital health products, from product concept to commercialisation.
“Despite the growing number of accelerators and incubators in Australia, there are few opportunities for health tech startups to access medical research along with clinical expertise. This broad exposure will increase the likelihood of the companies launching a successful clinically validated digital health product,” said Dr Dromey, during a presentation at the CeBit eHealth conference in Sydney this week.
“That knowledge transfer across technology and healthcare sectors is important … a trend is for a lot of research and work to be done is isolation. But it’s hard enough to change health from the inside, let alone from the outside, so it’s important to bring it all together.”
Bytes4Health applications will be assessed by a cross functional judging panel, who will select 10 finalists. The shortlisted firms will then be invited to interview throughout July, from which the two program recipients will be selected.
Applicants to the Bytes4Health program will be assessed on team capability, value proposition, global relevance and what stage of development proposed products are in. Applicants must also align their technology with MCRI’s areas of expertise across child and adolescent health, as well as family health.
“Because we’re a child health research institute, we’re very much focused on child wellbeing – particularly early intervention and prevention,” said Dr Dromey.
“We think the first few years of your life can really be a blueprint for what you’ll grow up to be, so we try to keep you healthy as long as we can.”
The industry is also seeing a considerable shift towards engaging the consumer or patient in the role of their own healthcare, so products and services around empowering consumers to better control their own health by monitoring information and making informed decisions are encouraged, Dr Dromey said.
Speaking on the program creation, he said MCRI had been wondering how to improve the workflow and efficiencies within the healthcare or research environments.
“We created this vertically integrated environment where we’ve got a tech company embedded within the research institute, which is itself embedded in a key tertiary hospital. So that creates a really nice blend of the tech, the education, the research, the governance, the ability to do clinical trials, and the contact with the patients.
“This journey is a critical path, and that collaboration really determines the likelihood of success at a later date… it’s critical to design all the aspects you want right from the very beginning, with team around you that is multi-skilled and at the coalface."
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