WA launches $5m regional health innovation challenge

Brandon How

To bolster innovation in regional health solutions, the Western Australian government has launched a $5 million global competition to innovate on healthcare delivery in the Pilbara.

And on the other side of the country, Victoria’s startup agency, LaunchVic, has invested $3.1 million across three commercialisation programs. These are run by digital health incubator ANDHealth, global venture capital firm Antler, and ClimateTech community Climate Salad.

Western Australian Minister for Emergency Services, Innovation and ICT, and Medical Research Stephen Dawson launched ‘The Challenge’ at the opening of the AusBiotech conference on Wednesday. The prize money is being jointly funded through the state’s Future Health Research and Innovation Fund alongside mining conglomerates BHP and Rio Tinto.

Western Australian Innovation and ICT, Medical Research, and Emergency Services minister Stephen Dawson

Participants from across the world are invited to participate, although expressions of interest will only open from February 1 next year. A shortlist of successful applicants will be given a $100,000 grant and progress to the 12-month proof of concept stage, which requires a demonstration of early-stage impact.

In a video message, Mr Dawson said the challenge has been launched to bring healthcare standards in regional areas in line those available in cities and stressed the importance of a solution that “protects and champions the cultural security of Aboriginal people and aligns to crucial Closing the Gap targets”.

He says the state’s resource sector is a world leader in remote operations technology and that he wants to see similar success in the delivery of health care.

“We’re looking for a pathway built around the ethos of innovation. I stress the word innovation because we’re not calling for improvements or adjustments. We don’t need a solution that just puts newer models of telehealth screens in GP clinics,” Mr Dawson said.

“We need real change, transformative, disruptive, and innovative. A solution which leverages new technology, one that deploys digital health to its full potential to ensure all Western Australians can access the health services they need and deserve. One that considers cutting-edge advancements in other fields and translates them into healthcare.”

In Victoria, both ANDHealth and Climate Salad will get $1.4 million to launch their accelerator programs. The remaining $300,000 will allow Antler to hire a local team in Victoria. Overall, LaunchVic anticipates these programs will support the growth of up to 160 startups.

Victorian Minister for Innovation, Medical Research, and the Digital Economy Jaala Pulford said that “Supporting growth in early-stage startups is critical to ensuring there is a continued pipeline of scaling companies that can contribute to Victoria’s economic prosperity”.

The ANDHealth accelerator program is called Activate and will be delivered at the Victorian Connected Health Innovation and Commercialisation Centre in Melbourne. To establish the centre, ANDHealth received $2.4 million last September from two other Victorian government initiatives: Australian MedTech Manufacturing Centre fund and the Biotechnology Fund.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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