Australia invests $13mn in new medical technologies
Australia is looking to invest $13 million in three new medical technologies to support those with long-term mobility issues and chronic conditions, such as back pain. Part of its $500 million Biomedical Translation Fund (BTF) the investment will see $250 million of Commonwealth funding “matched by private investors,” according to the company website.
The co-investment venture capital programme will aim to support local health companies in Australia who are working to develop medical technologies and support economic growth. It is the main focus of President Malcolm Turnbull’s National Innovation and Science Agenda.
“This vital funding will support researchers when they need it most – for clinical testing, developing prototypes and other requirements before a high potential product or service can come on the market,” Minister for Health and Sport Greg Hunt has said.
The three new companies, Rex Bionics, Saluda Medical and CHARM Informatics will be responsible for developing new prototypes in order to support those with long-term mobility issues in order to enable patients to regain their independence and support long-term rehabilitation and recovery.
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Granted $5 million, Rex Bionics will focus on the development of hands-free devices to help those with physical disabilities to remain active, whilst Saluda Medical will work to create technologies for those suffering with long-term neuromodular conditions, such as spinal injuries, with over $3 million in funding. Additionally, CHARM Informatics has been granted $5 million to commercialise and push these technologies into the public space.
“The BTF is helping early stage biomedical companies to become internationally competitive, creating new markets for healthcare and producing better health outcomes,” commented Arthur Sinodinos, Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science.
“Saluda Medical with its novel chronic pain solution, involving spinal cord nerve stimulation via a surgically implanted micro device, and Rex Bionics, the manufacturer of a robotic chair enabling paraplegics to walk again, are both splendid Australian examples of how Industry 4.0 may help deliver extraordinary quality-of-life improvements,” commented Bill Ferris, Chair of Innovation and Science Australia.
“Both require advanced manufacturing, new technology and new skilled jobs,” he added.
Skin Analytics wins NHSX award for AI skin cancer tool
An artificial intelligence-driven tool that identifies skin cancers has received an award from NHSX, the NHS England and Department of Health and Social Care's initiative to bring technology into the UK's national health system.
NHSX has granted the Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award to DERM, an AI solution that can identify 11 types of skin lesion.
Developed by Skin Analytics, DERM analyses images of skin lesions using algorithms. Within primary care, Skin Analytics will be used as an additional tool to help doctors with their decision making.
In secondary care, it enables AI telehealth hubs to support dermatologists with triage, directing patients to the right next step. This will help speed up diagnosis, and patients with benign skin lesions can be identified earlier, redirecting them away from dermatology departments that are at full capacity due to the COVID-19 backlog.
Cancer Research has called the impact of the pandemic on cancer services "devastating", with a 42% drop in the number of people starting cancer treatment after screening.
DERM is already in use at University Hospitals Birmingham and Mid and South Essex Health & Care Partnership, where it has led to a significant reduction in unnecessary referrals to hospital.
Now NHSX have granted it the Phase 4 AI in Health and Care Award, making DERM available to clinicians across the country. Overall this award makes £140 million available over four years to accelerate the use of artificial intelligence technologies which meet the aims of the NHS Long Term Plan.
Dr Lucy Thomas, Consultant Dermatologist at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, said: “Skin Analytics’ receipt of this award is great news for the NHS and dermatology departments. It will allow us to gather real-world data to demonstrate the benefits of AI on patient pathways and workforce challenges.
"Like many services, dermatology has severe backlogs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This award couldn't have come at a better time to aid recovery and give us more time with the patients most in need of our help.”