Denham Sadler
May 13, 2019

Labor $15m digital health accelerator

Election 2019

Labor $15m digital health accelerator

Catherine King: $15.3m for PenStart, a new health tech accelerator, will be established under Labor.

Labor will fund a new health technology accelerator and medical simulation facilities in Melbourne’s south-east as part of a $15 million digital health election commitment.

Shadow health minister Catherine King, shadow digital economy minister Ed Husic and Labor candidate for Dunkley Peta Murphy will make announce the election announcement in Frankston on Monday morning.

The $15.3 million in federal funding will go towards health technology initiatives in the Frankston-Peninsula region through the new Health Solutions Fund.

Under the election commitment, a new health tech accelerator - PenStart - will be established, along with new simulation facilities at Monash University’s Peninsula Campus.

PenStart will “kickstart local startup activity”, while the simulation facilities will help to test out new models of healthcare, the Opposition said.

“This is an exciting commitment for local medtech and is an example of how a Shorten Labor government will support the digital economy across a variety of sectors. Labor’s investment will also have a wider impact, providing a boost to the local startup community wanting to expand in Frankston, as well as providing possible growth opportunities by partnering up with Monash University,” Mr Husic told InnovationAus.com.

“It’s also consistent with our view that we need to ensure areas beyond the heart of our CBD’s are also engaged in a truly national effort to drive innovation and growth of our digital economy.”

The Fund is a “true local partnership” between Monash University, Peninsula Health, the Frankston Foundry and Labor, the Opposition said.

Dunkley is a marginal Victorian seat currently held by Liberal MP Chris Crewther, but the 2018 redistribution turned it into a notional marginal Labor seat on 1.3 percent.

The region in Melbourne’s south-east has been selected for the funding due its high rate of population ageing, challenges with mental illness and addictions and one of the busiest emergency departments in Victoria, the Labor Party said, with hopes to turn it into a “leader in generating new health solutions for the nation”.

The new fund will bring together various stakeholders to address these issues through new technologies, Labor candidate for Dunkley Peta Murphy said.

“Our community knows well the challenges of ageing, mental health and addiction. But we are also a community of innovators, and people who are up for a challenge. So, Labor will back a bold new partnership that brings together researchers, health practitioners, startups and patients to develop new technologies and better models of care. This will be great for Frankston and the nation,” Ms Murphy said.

The new fund will support the new technologies and care models developed through the Health Futures Hub, a partnership between Peninsula Health and Monash University focusing on aged care, addiction and mental health.

Both of the major parties have pledged financial support for the Hub.

Labor announced $21 million in funding for the hub earlier this year, with a focus on “designing and delivering new, better integrated models of care for some of the region’s most vulnerable people”, while the Coalition confirmed $32 million in funding for it in March.

Labor said its funding commitment for the hub would facilitate new research centres, a new health data platform at the Frankston Health and Education precinct and an expansion of the Academic Centre at Frankston Hospital.

It’s another in a series of digital-focused election policies from Labor, including $26 million for regional digital skills hub, $3 million for an artificial intelligence centre of excellence, $57 million for an electric vehicles manufacturing and innovation strategy and $170 million for the introduction of a research and development tax incentive collaboration premium.

The Coalition has also made a number of digital health-focused policy announcements, including $5 million for a national trial of “world-first artificial intelligence technology to reduce the pain suffered by people living with dementia” through a grant to the PainChek app, and $10 million for improved digital mental health support.

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