July ushered in a new era in the MedTech research space in NZ. Our MedTech Centre of Research Excellence (MedTech CoRE) programme drew to its official close. The CoRE has been instrumental in developing NZ’s translational research capability and capacity in the application of science to health care. The road from bench to bedside is challenging at the best of times and the ability to navigate this successfully and develop sustainable new solutions with health and economic impacts adds to the complexity. The CoRE developed a contestable translation accelerator which invested 3.79M over its lifetime. Seventy-five seeded concepts over the 6 years of the CoRE resulted in 15 spin outs and 12 more commercialisation opportunities in progress. For 3.79M of seed funding invested, the 15 spin outs have now returned 23x that amount based on their current valuation. This is only one aspect of the CoRE’s contribution to the development NZ’s MedTech sector but a fitting one to highlight in this newsletter and take the opportunity to thank Merryn Tawhai, Peter Hunter and Geoff Chase, the directorship of the CoRE for their leadership.
Start ups are perpetually hungry for investment but Toku Eyes, a spin out of the University of Auckland with an AI for diabetic retinopathy screening, has recently raised $3.6M in their seed round. High-five to founders Ehsan Vaghefi and David Squirrell. For those interested in the MZ VC market, there is a nice article on our top 20 most influential VCs and their investments. We give a shout out to Will Charles, Commercialisation Director at UniServices, who is on the leadership group of the CMDT. Amongst his many hats, Will manages the University of Auckland’s Inventors’ $20M Fund dedicated to start ups from the University’s ecosystem.
In this issue we meet Cushla Currie, MTANZ’s new CEO. Cushla is settling into her new role and starting to understand the major changes occurring in the NZ health system. We also feature some clinical initiatives that are being led by the Liggins Institute (well-known for its research in fetal and child development). These initiatives will be incorporated into the national clinical trial alliance that is being formed by the Ministry of Health. Canterbury University researchers came out tops at the 2021 Healthtech Awards for Best Research Translation Project - winning the top three prizes. The projects ranged from implants to rehabilitation to an innovative and non-invasive cost effective technology for blood glucose monitoring.
Dr Diana Siew