WA seed fund for health and medical commercialisation open for business

Brandon How

A new innovation seed fund in Western Australia is now accepting applications to fund health and medical innovation and commercialisation.

The grants will be awarded to early-stage startups in the range of $250,000 to $500,000 to commercialise innovation or undertake an activity that enables the firm to get funding through other funding channels.

The funding will run for up to two years is being administered by the Research and Innovation Office at the Western Australian Department of Health. A total pool of $5 million is available in this round.

Eligible activity includes proof of feasibility, proof of value, or preliminary innovation validation stages. It may also include funding for salaries up to a total of $150,000 per annum. Activities outside the scope of the seed fund include research and clinical trials.

Applications for grants close on 2 May, and can be submitted here.

The new Innovation Seed Fund is available to health and medical startups

Western Australian Minister for Innovation, and Medical Research Stephen Dawson said the fund would have benefits for the innovation ecosystem as well as local communities.

“These funding grants will support local innovators and ensure that the Western Australian community can directly benefit from the result. We hope to facilitate new health and medical innovation start-up companies in WA and support the novel venture’s journey to maturity and market,” Mr Dawson said.

“This will also provide an opportunity to diversify the WA economy, create jobs and improve the sustainability of the WA health system and position WA as a leader in innovation.”

Applications will be reviewed on a competitive basis by a panel of at least four members including an expert in health and medical innovation, an expert in health and medical entrepreneurship and commercialisation, a member with WA health and medical knowledge or experience, and consumer representatives. The final funding allocation will be made by the WA Department of Health.

A spokesperson for the Medical Research Minister said that the fund will help firms overcome the “innovation valley of death”.

“This is the stage between identification of a commercially viable idea with proof of concept to when the innovation has been validated to a point where it attracts investment through traditional commercialisation sources,” the spokesperson said.

“WA’s health and medical life sciences sector has seen significant growth in recent years, creating and exporting world-leading innovations to improve the health and well-being of Western Australians.

The fund falls under the health and medical innovation and commercialisation stream of the $1.4 billion Future Health Research and Innovation Fund (FHRI) and is the second FHRI program to be run this year. According to the Fund Strategy 2020-22 only the fund’s estimated annual investment income of around $40 million will be distributed.

The government has allocated $25.7 million from the FHRI through programs advertised in 2020 and 2021, with three initiatives still to be finalised.

The FHRI fund was established in 2020 by repurposing the WA Future Fund, the state’s sovereign wealth fund.

According to a 2019 report by startup advocacy group StartupWA, WA was the state that invested the least in its startup sector.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include comment from a spokesperson for the Western Australian Minister for Medical Research.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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