• Michelle Luca

UWA initiative supports healthcare innovation and early stage entrepreneurs

Updated: Dec 6, 2020

Healthcare innovation in Western Australia has received a boost under a new initiative that will help Australia’s brightest minds in medicine, business, research and engineering to develop into medtech entrepreneurs and early stage start-ups.

The latest round of X-TEND WA grants, which is part of the State Government’s $16.7 million New Industries Fund, has supported a suite of programs run by local medtech innovation educators, Perth Biodesign, in a collaboration led by The University of Western Australia and Edith Cowan University.

Innovation and ICT Minister Dave Kelly announced five Western Australian organisations that have received grants of up to $100,000 each, to deliver innovator and/or investor educational programs that support the development of entrepreneurs and stimulate private investment in innovative projects in WA.

The X-TEND grant will support 3 programs from Perth Biodesign in 2020, including their flagship 6-month Perth Biodesign for Medtech program. The course brings together multidisciplinary teams to identify and validate unmet clinical needs before inventing a medical technology solution and developing the pathway to commercialisation.

The collaboration also supports two new offerings including two-day Biodesign Bootcamps and a partnership between iPREP WA and Perth Biodesign: iPREP Biodesign. A 7 week long industry and PhD engagement program, iPREP Biodesign offers late-stage PhD candidates the opportunity to work on real-life problems faced by healthcare organisations.

Perth Biodesign Directors Dr Matt Oldakowski and Intan Oldakowska have created these new offerings, the latter in close collaboration with Narelle Jones of iPREP WA headquartered at Edith Cowan University, to fill gaps identified in specialised healthcare innovation and commercialisation training within the Perth ecosystem.

Program lead at UWA Professor Kevin Pfleger said the grant has come at a particularly good time for WA health innovation, with Health Minister Roger Cook recently declaring Perth as one of Australia’s top life sciences hubs.

“This new collaboration will help to support and accelerate emerging talent to diversify the Western Australian economy and create new WA jobs and industries,” he said.

This program is made possible with the support of UWA, ECU, Curtin University, Murdoch University, Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, Telethon Kids Institute and Perron Institute.

Other successful recipients of the X-TEND WA grants included AgriStart, who are providing masterclasses on start-up investing and connecting female entrepreneurs and investors in collaboration with South-West Angels, Perth Angels for its training program geared at encouraging women to invest in start-ups and early-stage businesses, Plus Eight Entrepreneurial Academy Program delivered by regional innovation facilitator Meshpoints and China Gateway.

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