Buzz Palmer CEO of The Actuator program Australia, and Aaron Maher the MD of Procept discuss MedTech future in Australia.
How does the MedTech market differ in the U.S. vs. Australia?
Aaron: What we have noticed in the companies we have worked with in the U.S., is that they all seem to have a clear exit strategy, as the market is more mature, and they can gain access to capital a lot easier. The cycle seems to go a lot different, they develop their product take it through to something that is reasonably mature. Then a big pharma comes along and will license it or purchase it from them. Which seems to be the way they innovate and get products on market shelves. This is essentially where we want to be in Australia.
Buzz: It’s interesting, we need to work out where Australia plays in this space, what should we be doing, how can we have impact in terms of global healthcare. If you look at a lot of the entrepreneurs in med tech around 60% of them are PhD trained, clinically trained or scientifically trained and that is a great asset to have however they may not be necessarily trained in business or entrepreneurship.
Aaron: Yes, I do think it is a bit of a mixture between those who are more PhD trained, and those who just have great ideas and are founders coming into the market. I do agree with you there, what they tend to lack is the business aspects, what it takes to have an idea, get the funding, develop a product, set up the distribution chains, manufacture it, post market surveillance. It is all those things that they tend to forget about! The real gap lies in building the businesses, which is where I think the Actuator program plays an important role, where you are helping them through a process to identify these gaps and ensuring they are filled.
What do you think is in MedTech future in Australia?
Buzz: Looking at MedTech future here in Australia, I think we are in a very privileged position right now. I think there are two ways we can look at it.
1. How do we see the rise in MedTech and where is that going to come from? In terms of funding in Australia, I think that is going to change dramatically. I think there will be more of an emphasis on producing a product or delivering value from research rather than it being publication based which is what it is at the moment. So, if we start to change towards that I think we will start seeing more clinicians and scientific engineering entrepreneurs coming out of university actually wanting to make a difference and wanting to do something with the technology or the research that has been out for a number of years and less about the publication.
2. If we are looking at it from a technical aspect. If I was to pick a couple of areas I think MedTech future will head into, I think AI, we can already see a rise there and huge capability. Also, precision medicine which is a very interesting space, as well as our strong genetic capability which we have seen across the country. I also think we are going to see Australia uniting. At the moment we are seeing a very fragmented scene between states. We are very competitive between states, cities even our universities. I think we are all starting to understand now, that for Australia to make a mark in healthcare we need to unite and work together. I truly believe that when Australia innovates the world of healthcare will change. As soon as we understand our natural advantage, we will see this great big rise in technology.
Aaron: I agree, I think when more of these new technologies come to the fore, people will get inspired and they will start thinking… How do I use AI, for my area of expertise or how do I develop new algorithms that look at the data differently and take some of the back work away from the individuals, let the computers do that work and allow individuals the ability to concentrate more on the value add than the back end and crunch work. I think a lot of the technology drivers will be, AI, cloud, apps, AR will help shift some of the MedTech future thinking. Sometimes people think that it is the people driving the technology, but I think in some cases, the technology actually drives the products and services we offer.
Buzz: Yes, you are very right with that Aaron. I think these days patients and consumers have a better understanding of their own health now, so they are actually demanding greater insight into what is happening in their bodies and greater insight into drugs that are being prescribed and how things are being diagnosed, that consumer push is very interesting as well. So perhaps we will see a bigger push in preventative rather than therapeutic or cure.
To read more about The Actuator program or to find out how it can help your MedTech start-up head to: medtechactuator.com