MedTech Bites March/April 2022 edition - edited by Kate Harsant

There is heaps to celebrate this month.  With the reopening of New Zealand’s borders, travel is back on the cards and our researchers and companies are heading off overseas for conferences and business.  We all were a little spoilt in the last two years being able to easily reach people, but now as we wait for people to answer the phone we begin to wonder whether they might be fast asleep in another time zone!

I would like to give a shout-out to Alimetry and The Clinician, who were two of the five winners of the Medtronic APAC Innovation Challenge (MAIC).  Of the 323 companies that were part of MAIC, five were identified as the most promising start-ups and business organisations.  New Zealand’s Alimetry and The Clinician joined two winners from Singapore and one from South Korea.  Each company won a USD$200,000 prize for a potential collaboration with Medtronic.

Nearer the home front, we are happy to announce the first tranche of seed funding from Te Tītoki Mataora MedTech Research Translator for 6 groups across NZ to develop their technology concepts further and take the next step in their translation journey.  The projects address new tinnitus treatments through to traumatic brain injury rehabilitation through to surgical navigation in orthopedic surgery.  The successful groups were composed of collaborations between AUT, Universities of Auckland and Otago and Victoria University of Wellington in partnerships with clinicians from Auckland and Counties Manukau DHBs, and Burwood Academy of Independent Living as well as private healthcare providers and industry.

The end game of the translational journey is sustainability - whether the outcome is a billion dollar company or a non-profit organisation.  The impact researchers hope to make from a health or social perspective is lost if the innovation cannot be continually supported and refined in the long-term.  The rigour needed to raise capital is similar regardless of the outcome researchers are looking at as essentially you are asking a third party to invest in you, your idea and your ability to grow something that has reach and is sustainable.  This article from Start-Up Daily by Phil Morle provides food for thought, especially for the community of researchers looking at deep tech innovation.

This month’s newsletter is to be enjoyed with Easter eggs and profiles two very different companies in our ecosystem – MedSalv who are tackling sustainability in the health sector with their innovative process of remanufacturing “single-use” medical devices to save both landfill and financial waste in the health system, and Thought-Wired with their eye movement detecting assistive technology that, alongside software, turns blinks into a communication medium.  The technology was designed for people with conditions that impair their ability to speak, such as cerebral palsy.

If you were at MedTech CoRE Day at Healthtech Week last year, you might recall an exercise by Ara Manawa, the Auckland DHB’s innovation arm, to imagine what health care could look like in the future.  The results of the exercise have now been synthesised and Sarv Taherin from Ara Manawa files a report to share what crowd sourcing imagination can bring to the table.

Finally, for the researchers who know they need to write a business case, undertake market validation and check out the IP landscape, help is at hand with Te Tītoki Mataora’s “Bridging Science and Research Programme”.  We pair business interns with researchers needing help.  Since the programme’s inception in late 2021, we have completed 8 projects across universities and DHBs.
Dr Diana Siew
CMDT Co-Chair 


Single-use medical devices getting another lease on life with Medsalv

Christchurch company Medsalv is remanufacturing and reusing thousands of supposedly “single-use” medical devices, keeping them out of landfills and enabling hospitals to save significant amounts of money.

Read more here

Accessibility at the speed of thought

Stephen Hawking used a cheek muscle to select words on his computer. Parisian Jean-Dominque Bauby, paralysed after a stroke, wrote a book by blinking his left eyelid.
Dmitry Selitskiy and the team at Thought-Wired have taken blink/computer technology a step further with a universal brain-computer interface (BCI).

Read more here

Infusing creative thinking into the MedTech CoRE Conference

What if we re-imagined what’s possible in healthcare?
This is the sort of challenge that gets Ara Manawa director Justin Kennedy-Good excited.
Justin was invited to our 2021 MedTech CoRE conference where he covered diverse cutting-edge healthcare technologies such as research, design, clinical validation and implementation, and commercialisation.

Bridging science and business

Ella Dixon and students Rohit Bhat and Liam Rollo are helping translate healthtech research into commercial reality through a programme called Bridging Science and Research.

Read more here


BioBridge Workshop: Covid Accelerating Technology

Where: online
When: May 12

Register here


NZ Techweek

Where: multiple venues
When: May 16 - 22

Register here


HealthTech Week 2022 

Where: Auckland
When: June 27 - 30 

Register here


Queenstown Research Week

Where: Queenstown
When: August 30 - September 1

More info here

BIOENGINEERING THE FUTURE: Auckland Bioengineering Institute 20th Anniversary Showcase

Where: Auckland
When: May 9-15, 2023 

Register here
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