Monthly Archives: December 2018

Five promising MedTech companies to watch earn $10,000 pre-seed funding in the 2018 National MedTech’s Got Talent Gala Finals

Medtech's got talent logo

Australia’s brightest MedTech entrepreneurs battled it out at last night’s National MedTech’s Got Talent National Finals in Melbourne. The top five teams secured $10,000 non-dilutive, stage-gated funding to kickstart their MedTech startup towards product-market fit and investor readiness. These teams will participate in an intensive 6-week accelerator program, with the most investible team taking out the competition, and receiving an additional $30,000.

Melbourne, Australia. Friday 30th November, 2018. STC Australia, The Actuator and MedTech’s Got Talent (MTGT) announce their 2018 top five emerging MedTech companies to watch, selected at the national awards ceremony in Melbourne last night. These teams secured $10,000, stage-gated, non-dilutive funding to accelerate their path to product-market fit and investor readiness.

The 14 semi-finalists had three minutes each to pitch their business concept to the judging panel of industry executives, investors and sector influencers, who then debated and selected five finalists against criteria including innovation, market, pathway, sustainability and soft skills.

The 2018 MedTech’s Got Talent finalists are:

NanoMSlide – instant unambiguous cellular diagnosis – Associate Professor Brian Abbey, Dr. Eugeniu Balaur, Dr. Caroline Bathje and Dr. Belinda Parker – mentored by Hydrix

Lateroll – complete patient transfer system – Simone Saville, Dr. Cameron Keating, Jane Chen, Sidonie Matthew and Garrick Liu – mentored by The Actuator

TalkiPlay – harnessing technology to explore language in a child’s real-world to accelerate their development – Annie McAuley – mentored by IDE

Ventora – real time monitoring of pressure delivered to lungs in neonatal intensive care – Edward Buijs, Lorinda Hartley, Amy Yu, Seetal Erramilli and Alan Haszard – mentored by Design + Industry

Enlighten Imaging – transforming the way in which Alzheimer’s disease is detected – Dr. Lauren Giorgio Peter van Wijngaarden, Xavier Hadoux & Professor Darren Kelly – mentored by Vestech

The $1,000 people’s choice award for the night was taken out by Horizen – mentored by Procept, who are developing a device for the prediction of agitation in dementia patients.

Each of these five teams will now begin an intensive six-week training program focused on the most critical issues for MedTech startups, such as clinical need validation, regulatory strategy, intellectual property protection, and reimbursement. The program will conclude in March 2018 with an Investor Deal Pitch where the overall ‘most investable team’ will then receive an additional stage-gated $30,000 with no impact on equity or IP.

This program is not possible without the entire ecosystem coming together to support the emerging talent and promising ideas of the future. This includes: STC Australia; The Victorian State Government, The Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport & Resources; The Federal Government, The Department of Industry, Innovation & Science; Artesian; EY; Johnson & Johnson; Medtronic; Cook Medical; Baker; Burnet Institute; Macquarie University; Swinburne University; The University of Melbourne; LaTrobe University; Vestech; K&L Gates; Ingenuity Product Design; IDE; Planet Innovation; Hydrix; Design + Industry; Procept; MiniFAB; Microsoft; Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute; The Social Science; Cogentum; ResMed; The Medical Technology Association of Australia; BioMelbourne Network; Brandwood Biomedical; Truly Deeply; Grant Ready & Grant Guru; F2F Communications; IQVIA; Australian Healthcare Solutions; Accelerating Australia, supported by MTPConnect; and The Healthy Organisation.

“The Australian Government continues to support the commercialisation of our brilliant ideas in the medtech sector. This will not only create highly valued and resilient jobs of the future, but also contribute to fulfil our ambition to become the healthiest nation on Earth,” said Director of Accelerating Commercialisation Larry Lopez.

About The Actuator
The first of its kind, The Actuator is a deeply collaborative national program that gives promising early-stage medical technology companies an accelerated pathway to $2.7 million of funding, capitalising on Australia’s strengths in medical research, healthcare, clinical trials and advanced manufacturing.

Artificial Intelligence (US) Mission to the US – 13-15 Feb 2019

Logo for Australia Unlimited and Australian Government

The AUTM Conference, an assembly of international academic technology transfer professionals, is taking place in Austin, Texas from 10-13 February 2019. Austin has become one of the fastest growing tech hubs in the US with competitive strengths in Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, and big data.

Following the AUTM Conference, Austrade Americas will be hosting a strategic 2-day program for Australian researchers and technology transfer professionals to learn and connect with Austin’s vibrant AI ecosystem. Meetings will include a variety of potential investors and collaborators across industry, academic, and philanthropy. Examples of meetings include Dell and the University of Texas at Austin.Additional information is available from the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM)

Who should participate:
Australian providers of Higher education.

Austrade package:
For detailed information about this event and the participation package, please refer to the event brochure (pdf).

Application deadline:
15 January 2019

How to apply:
Apply to participate in this event using the register button below.
Acceptance of your application is not confirmed until you have received formal notification from Austrade. Austrade is not bound to accept any application and shall only do so at its sole discretion so as to best facilitate export and foreign direct investment.

Travel details:
Australian travellers should be aware of the increased threat of terrorism globally and should consult the Australian Government’s General Advice to Australian Travellers, which is available at
All Australians travelling overseas, whether for tourism or business or for short or long stays, are encouraged to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) before travel. The registration information provided by you will help DFAT find you in an emergency – whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family emergency. It may also be used to pass other information to you, such as: new travel advisories, notice of elections and information on other matters relevant to travellers and expatriates.

Australian citizens can register online at

Please note: Austrade will only work with clients that maintain appropriate business ethics, and demonstrate a commitment to legal obligations including anti-bribery laws, both in Australia and overseas markets. For further information, please visit

For more information please contact:
Elizabeth Bucknor
Education Partnership Director
Austrade Washington, DC
T: +1 202-454-9756

Access to cancer clinical trials for all Victorians

Associate Professor Kate Burbury stands next to Dr Craig Underhill. They are both smiling at the camera in the VCCC.

Patients with cancer living in regional and rural Victoria will soon have access to clinical trials, on their doorstep.

The first patients participating in a cancer clinical trial implemented through a new Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC) Teletrials Program has begun in Albury Wodonga and Bendigo. The program provides opportunities for regional patients to participate in clinical trials without the need to travel to metropolitan centres.

Dr Craig Underhill, VCCC Regional Oncology Lead (providing representation for the regional cancer community) and the Director of Oncology at the Albury Wodonga Regional Cancer Centre is a champion of the program, “Regional cancer patients experience several disadvantages including lower survival rates, due to healthcare access differentials. The VCCC Teletrials Program aims to reduce the barriers for regional patients with cancer to access clinical trials, including travel, cost and social disruption.”

Capitalising on digital health technology

Peter Mac Haematologist, Associate Professor Kate Burbury is working with Dr Underhill and the VCCC to deliver Victoria’s first clinical teletrial. “Clinical trials are a gateway to accessing new cancer treatments,” she said. “We are very excited to be a part of this groundbreaking approach to undertake clinical trials and ensure regional Victorians gain all the opportunities available to their metro counterparts. In addition, this approach can help the health service challenge of meeting recruitment targets and the success of clinical trials, which bring new therapies to the wider community.”

Digital health is a rapidly evolving tool for regional patients’ access to health services. Combining this technology with the principles of the Australasian Tele-trials Model, developed by the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia (COSA), the VCCC Teletrials Program will implement clinical trials within a framework specifically designed for the Victorian healthcare system to benefit the community.

Associate Professor Kate Burbury and Dr Craig Underhill
Associate Professor Kate Burbury and Dr Craig Underhill

Teletrials to deliver benefits to regional communities

Dr Underhill said, “The VCCC Teletrials Program provides benefits for both our patients and health workforce. Decreased travel and cost will have a big impact on patients. Professional development structures and clinical trial participation will increase our workforce capability.”

Victoria’s first cancer clinical teletrial will be closely monitored to understand challenges and identify opportunities. The VCCC will continue to expand the teletrial program across Victoria to improve clinical trial access and participation for patients living in regional and rural locations.

The VCCC Teletrials Program has been developed in conjunction with the Regional Trials Network; led by VCCC Regional Oncology Leads.  

The VCCC Teletrials Program is supported by the Victorian Government.

This article is sourced from our proud precinct partner, the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre

“We’re excited about it.” – CSL talks up new flu vaccine

CSL logo

Melbourne Biomedical Precinct Partners, CSL Limited presented new real-world data showing that its cell-based quadrivalent influenza vaccine (QIVc) was 36.2 percent more effective than standard* egg-based quadrivalent vaccines (QIVe) in preventing influenza-like illnesses during the 2017/18 influenza season in the United States. This is likely due to the predominance of the H3N2 virus and its propensity for mutation when it is adapted for influenza vaccine production in chicken eggs. These observational data were presented today at the Canadian Immunisation Conference and also shared at CSL’s annual Research and Development briefing in Sydney.

The finding is based on an analysis of over one million (1,353,862) medical records for patients aged four years and above who received either a four-strain egg-based influenza vaccine or a four-strain cell-based influenza vaccine in a primary care setting during the 2017/18 influenza season in the United States. Analysing real-world data from electronic medical records is a new and important approach to understanding the effectiveness of influenza vaccines and their impact on health outcomes. These types of analyses are different from traditional randomised clinical trials which study clinical efficacy.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control1 the 2017/18 influenza season in the US was the worst in recent years with the H3N2 virus being associated with the majority of influenza infections. Research has shown that H3N2 viruses often undergo changes when they are grown in eggs2. When produced completely outside of the egg-based process, cell-based influenza vaccines avoid egg-adapted changes, which means they may offer a closer match and potentially improved protection compared to standard egg-based options in some seasons.3 4 5 6 7

QIVc was first licensed in the US in 2016 based on a study showing non-inferiority immune response to a three-strain cell-based influenza vaccine. Both cell-based products used in this study were produced using egg-based starting viruses8. The 2017/18 season was the first in which QIVc was manufactured using a cell-derived H3N2 starting virus, making this component of the vaccine exclusively cell-based. Seqirus is incorporating other cell-derived starting viruses into the production process for QIVc and has plans to conduct real-world studies over future seasons to help determine the full potential of the cell-based technology in preventing influenza.

“The real-world data, along with other emerging evidence, indicates that cell-based influenza vaccines may result in better influenza-related outcomes compared to standard egg-based vaccine options in some seasons, particularly those seasons characterised by egg-adapted changes,” said Gregg Sylvester, VP Medical Affairs, Seqirus. “We are greatly encouraged by the data and with increasing availability of our vaccine look forward to working with partners to generate additional data in future seasons.”

Developing new and better influenza vaccine technologies is a strategic priority for Seqirus, including further advancing current cell-based technology as well as adjuvants – or ‘immune boosters’ – to enhance the immune response of those particularly vulnerable to influenza such as children and the elderly.

While QIVc is currently only licensed in the US, the European regulatory agency (EMA) recently issued a positive recommendation for the vaccine, indicating formal approval in Europe by the end of 2018. Expansion into other markets is planned after that, including the submission of an application to the TGA in Australia in 2019.

Seqirus’ QIVc is manufactured in the company’s Holly Springs facility in North Carolina. The capacity of the plant to meet anticipated future demand for the vaccine has been greatly enhanced with approval by the FDA earlier in 2018 for important process improvements to the manufacturing process, and by the recently announced US$140 million plant expansion.

“The burden of influenza is a global healthcare concern, and Seqirus is committed to developing new and potentially better vaccines that help reduce the hundreds of thousands of deaths and severe illness caused every year by influenza. Since we acquired the cell-based technology just three years ago, we have increased vaccine production five-fold and introduced cell-derived starting viruses (rather than viruses that have been optimised to grow in eggs). These innovations together with other major investments into the Holly Springs facility will assist us to meet further global demand for the vaccine,” said CSL’s Chief Scientific Officer Professor Andrew Cuthbertson.

Influenza is a common, highly contagious infectious disease that can cause severe illness and life-threatening complications in many people. In Australia, the impacts of the 2017 season included high levels of absenteeism and a substantial burden on primary care and hospitals.9

“Vaccination is the best line of defence in reducing deaths and severe illness caused by influenza. Every flu season is different and it’s important that we stay one step ahead of influenza viruses through the development of more effective vaccines, better matched to the strains in circulation. This real-world data on cell-based vaccines is encouraging and will bring another welcome influenza vaccine option to Australia,” said Professor Terry Nolan AO, Head, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health. – ends –

*standard QIVe is non-adjuvanted with standard dose of antigen.

This article is sourced from Proud Precinct Partners, CSL

Stentrode™ developed for brain treatments without major surgery

Man smiling at the camera, hands in pockets, in Times Sqaure, New York
Tom Oxley, a researcher on the Stentrode, standing in Times Square smiling at the camera

Australian researchers have developed a tiny device that electrically stimulates the brain and could one day be used to treat conditions such as epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease without invasive surgery.

They have shown for the first time that electrical stimulation can be delivered into the brain from a 4 mm diameter Stentrode™ permanently implanted inside a blood vessel.

This technology opens the door for a range of potential treatments that have traditionally required open brain surgery, including deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.

Deep brain stimulation requires open brain surgery with an electrode implanted via burr hole surgery, where one or more holes are drilled in the skull so the electrodes can penetrate the brain. The Stentrode™ can place electrodes in the brain via blood vessels through a vein in the neck.

The work builds on previous research that showed the Stentrode™ could be used to record brain signals, with the potential to control an exoskeleton in patients with paralysis. This study now shows the Stentrode™ can also deliver targeted stimulation.


The proof-of-concept study is published in Nature Biomedical Engineering and involved researchers from The University of Melbourne, Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, The Royal Melbourne Hospital, Monash University and the company Synchron Australia.

The researchers implanted a 4 mm diameter Stentrode™ into blood vessels in sheep and achieved localised stimulation of brain tissue, all without open-brain surgery. They implanted devices into blood vessels that were adjacent to motor areas of the brain.

“Stimulation-induced responses of the facial muscles and limbs were observed, and were comparable to those obtained with electrodes implanted following invasive surgery,” the researchers wrote.

“A minimally invasive endovascular surgical approach utilising a stent-electrode array is an encouraging safe and efficacious way to stimulate focal regions of brain.”


Until now, it has never been proven that stimulating the brain from inside a blood vessel can achieve focal brain stimulation using a permanently implanted device. Future studies must now determine the safety of stimulation across a range of intensities.

“While additional data is required to validate chronic safety and efficacy of the Stentrode™, our previous research, and literature on the success of commercially available cranial stents and vascular lead wires supports our hypothesis that a Stentrode™ may be a suitable alternative to invasive neural implants,” the researchers said.

Lead researcher Dr Nick Opie said the work built on previous research that showed the Stentrode™ could listen to the motor cortex of the brain.

“By adding the ability to speak to the brain using electrical stimulation, we have created a two-way digital communication device,” Dr Opie said. “In one application, the Stentrode™ could be used as a tool to record the onset of an epileptic seizure, and provide stimulation to prevent it.”

Co-author Dr Sam John said it was the first time such an implant was able to stimulate the brain without needing to perform open brain surgery. He said this work opened the way to making treatment for drug resistant neurological conditions accessible to a greater number of people.


“This offers hope of less invasive treatments for the symptoms of conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder,” he said.

Earlier research, released in 2016, demonstrated that Stentrodes™ implanted into blood vessels next to the motor cortex could pick up brain signals related to movement. The researchers plan to use the Stentrode™ to close the loop, making two-way communication with the brain possible.

In their upcoming clinical trial, the recording Stentrode™ will receive and interpret neural signals and enable a person with Motor Neurone Disease to control communication software.

Eventually it is hoped this technology will be used to help all people suffering from paralysis to control computers, wheelchairs and exoskeletons.

“From within a blood vessel in the head, the Stentrode™ can pick up brain signals when people think about moving”, Dr Opie said. “These can be converted into commands that enable direct-brain control of computers, vehicles or prosthetic limbs. With stimulation, sensory feedback is possible, and people may be able to feel what they are touching.”


This article is sourced from our Proud Precinct Partner, the Royal Melbourne Hospital

Forecasting the cycle of epileptic seizures

New research throws light on the predictability of seizure cycles for people with epilepsy


Cycles govern most aspects of our day-to-day life and our biology.

There are environmental cycles, like the 8-hour working day, 5-day working week, monthly mortgage repayments and seasonal weather patterns.

Epilepsy is particularly sensitive to metabolic cycles. Picture: Shutterstock
There are also cycles in our body governed by hormonal and metabolic activities, like body temperature, sleep and appetite. Longer biological rhythms exist too, like the menstrual cycle, breeding and hibernation.

It is not surprising that so many interwoven cycles can affect human disease in complex ways. Epilepsy is particularly sensitive to metabolic cycles with seizures known to be provoked by poor sleep, heat stress, alcohol consumption, exercise, changes in mood and even the weather.

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Hundreds of years ago, neurologists documented their patients’ seizure times and found reliable patterns that, for some people, were repeated daily, weekly and monthly.

The cause of these cycles was not clear and the cause of longer cycles remained particularly mysterious. For some women, seizures appeared to be linked to menstruation; however, monthly cycles were also common in men.

Baffled, several researchers resorted to supernatural explanations like ‘moon madness’.


Understanding seizure cycles, and being able to forecast when they will occur, has profound implications for better treatment of epilepsy.

We have conducted the largest study of seizure cycles in humans and our research, published in the Lancet Neurology, provides conclusive evidence that multi-day cycles exist for most people with epilepsy.

A major finding from our study is the high rate of seizure cycles in the population which means that cycles could potentially be affecting the treatment of most people with epilepsy.

Seizures can be provoked by poor sleep, heat stress, alcohol consumption, exercise, changes in mood and even the weather. Picture: Getty Images
We still do not understand the causes of seizure cycles and it is difficult to replicate early studies of multi-day seizure cycles because reliable, longitudinal data of individuals’ seizure times is not typically collected.

Early studies were conducted in a world where people travelled less or lived in closed epilepsy colonies where it was much easier to obtain complete records of a person’s seizure times over decades.


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Nowadays, people with epilepsy may report having a ‘bad week’ at the start of each month, a cluster of seizures every 10 days, or other cyclic patterns. However, while anecdotal evidence of long-term seizure cycles is abundant, experimental proof is lacking

Our study was based on two of the largest databases of human seizures ever recorded. The first dataset is from 15 people with epilepsy who were implanted with a device to continuously recorded their brain signals for up to three years.

The second dataset is a non-invasive, online record of peoples’ seizure times reported via a mobile app, with data sharing supported by the International Seizure Diary Consortium.

The implant data provided an extremely accurate, objective account of seizure times since seizures were directly verified from brain activity. App data is based on self-reporting so is more subjective, but reflects a large and diverse cohort of over 10,000 people reporting for up to 10 years.



We measured the strength of cycles from periods of 12 hours to three months. A majority (86 per cent) of people had at least one significant cycle
Circadian or 24-hour cycles were most common at 83 per cent, however 23 per cent of people had a seven-day cycle. A quarter of the participants also had at least one cycle that was longer than three weeks.

Gathering self-reported data on peoples’ seizures via a mobile app meant researchers could capture a large and diverse dataset. Picture: Pexels
The existence of a precise seven-day cycle in over one fifth of the cohort was staggering. These weekly cycles suggest human brain activity is entrained to an artificial seven-day week in addition to our brain’s well-documented synchrony with the 24-hour light cycle.

The weekday that most seizures occurred was unique to the individual and, across the population, no day of the week was ‘worse’ than any other day. Like many researchers before us, we also found that longer cycles were equally common in men and women.

So what are the implications of our findings?



Failing to account for multi-day cycles could lead to inconsistent treatment decisions.

For instance, if medication changes were made at the high point of someone’s cycle there would be a perceived benefit because afterwards seizures would begin to decrease.

After the low point of the cycle however, seizures would begin to increase and the drug would seem to be performing badly. Similarly, tracking seizure cycles during clinical trials is important to properly measure the effectiveness of a new drug.

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of this research is that cycles were measured from self-reported mobile seizure diaries. By developing the right software, we can immediately begin using the information from seizure cycles to improve treatment outcomes.

The main aim of my research is to develop a seizure forecasting app and this study is an important step towards that goal. At our start-up company, Seer, we have developed Beagle Health Tracker, an app that detects the different cycles that modulate individuals’ seizures and present this information graphically.

The Beagle Health Tracker app helps users plan according to their how likely they are to have a seizure that day.

Users can track where they are in a particular cycle, explore the different associated risk levels and schedule medication to align to their unique rhythms. The next step is to incorporate additional data to build a more nuanced picture of an individual’s seizure likelihood.

One important data source available soon is brain signals recorded from outside the skull. Recently our team, lead by Professor Mark Cook, announced that a trial of Minder, a sub-scalp implant device, will begin in Melbourne as early as next year. Devices like Minder are anticipated to revolutionise seizure forecasting.

However, it is important to begin the data collection process now.

Our investigation has taught us that tracking seizure times can reveal rich patterns that can be used to build better forecasts and make a real difference to how people manage epilepsy.


This article is sourced from our Proud Precinct Partner,  the University of Melbourne


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