Health innovation tracker catalogues ground-breaking new Australian tech

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A hamstring testing device for athletes, a platform aimed at reducing unnecessary hospital admissions and a virtual biobank of 3D tissue samples are just some of the Australian health innovations that have been compiled in an online catalogue launched today.

The Health Horizon showcase aims to track every medtech, pharmaceutical and digital health innovation nationally as they make their way along the path from inception to commercialisation and patient care.

Collating the pioneering efforts of Australian start-ups, universities and research institutes, Health Horizon intends to promote investment, improve collaboration and reduce duplication.

Open to investors, health practitioners and the public, the showcase alerts followers when an innovation meets a milestone, such as the conclusion of a clinical trial.

Funded by MTPConnect and the Pharmaceutical Industry Growth Centre, it will help make sense of the rapidly evolving national health innovation ecosystem, according to co-founder Marcus Dawe.

“There are brilliant scientists, clinicians, nurses and members of the public who come up with ways to improve health every day,” he said.

“These people want their innovations to be seen. There are also investors, government groups and groups of the public who want to see all these ideas and support them, but currently there is not one cohesive and transparent way for all these groups to interact. We wanted to solve this problem in an open and light touch way.”

Dawe met his co-founder Dr Mathew McGann at an ANU innovation event in 2011 and two years later Health Horizon was born.

“We always see breakthroughs on the news about drugs that have good results and might be available in 10 years time, but then we never hear about them again. If we could constantly track all the public relevant announcements and findings in health, then we could make a ‘living’, always up-to-date database of the progress of any health innovation in the world.”

What followed was five years of research into the global health innovation space. That project detected tens of thousands of innovations and then mapped out the steps they usually took to get to market.

Believing that the progress of innovations during the early stages of development should be visible and trackable, Health Horizon set about growing its global data set and improving the data model, quietly launching the platform publicly in 2016.

The National Health Innovation Showcase launched today provides a comprehensive catalogue of the progress happening here.

“We are building a place where the public, sophisticated investors and motivated practitioners can follow and support the technologies and breakthroughs that matter to them. Innovators can accumulate interest in their solution in the early stages, bringing the consumer into the development process at a much earlier stage,” Dawe said.

“We believe by introducing this transparency we have the potential to remedy some of the market failures in health. With a rise in crowdfunding and awareness campaigns the public are proving themselves as a powerful force, capable of pulling through innovations deemed too risky for private enterprise to develop. The public’s expectations and requirements from the health system are changing rapidly. Through Health Horizon we hope to provide the platform for this change and give rise to an empowered health society where each individual plays a role in making sure the right health innovations make it into our lives.”

Among the showcased innovations are:

  • An app that allows parents watch their IVF embryo grow in real time
  • A tiny implantable wireless device that delivers photodynamic therapy to inner organs during cancer treatment
  • A computer program that tracks changes in oxygen levels in the brain to decipher the thoughts of paralysed patients and help them communicate again
  • A heart valve made with bovine material to be inserted into frail patients using keyhole surgery
  • A platform that tracks virus spread and infection outbreaks, and sends emergency taskforces to deliver medical assistance
  • An ingestible capsule that senses and measures various gases along the gastrointestinal to identify specific GI disorders
  • Bespoke 3D printed skeletal and soft tissue implants.

For Dawe, the astonishing developments listed on the site – some of which offer great promise for life saving patient care – are yet more signs of the ingenuity of Australian innovators, who have pioneered the Cochlear ear implant and contributed to the origins of ultrasound technology and pacemakers.

“I am personally excited to gain insight into this inspirational industry. Just from talking to a handful of innovators it is quite apparent that every health innovation has its own unique development story and we are quite excited to be able to share these with the world,” he said.

“At the end of this campaign in October at the World Hospital Congress our team and I are going to be so proud to present a living database of thousands of Australian health innovations. I will demonstrate the effectiveness of our world-class health system and help to promote the growing Australian entrepreneurial spirit.”