Medical device start-up JR-TeCH, creators of eMotionGait, a wearable technology for prostheses, has taken first prize at the 2018 Perth Biodesign Pitch Night, presented by Accelerating Australia.

For above knee amputees, prescribing a suitable prosthetic is a difficult process and it can be even more difficult for the wearer to determine that their prosthesis is the cause of discomfort, instability, and a high falls-risk. This leads to 11-22% of patients abandoning their prosthesis altogether.

During their time in the 6-month course, the team at JR TeCH was formed, identified this need and developed a wearable for prostheses that enables 24/7 functional data collection to inform the allocation of prosthesis and support for the amputee.

The multidisciplinary team, who met for the first time at the course kick-off session in June, is made up of Caroline Chapman, a research development advisor at ECU, Hayley Cullen, a laboratory manager in the Brain Growth and Disease Lab at Curtin University, Ronan O’Neill, a UWA Masters of Biotechnology graduate, James Charleson, a final year medical student at Notre Dame University and Tim McLennan, a rehab engineer at Fiona Stanley Hospital.

JR TeCH was one of five teams who presented at last night’s Perth Biodesign pitch event, competing for a prize pool of financial support and professional services to help them further their efforts to bring their inventions to market.

Winners of the audience prize, Urfree presented an alternative urinary catheter designed to increase comfort and decrease infections, particularly for patients with chronic urinary incontinence. This complex, technical area was exceptionally well-delivered by the youngest participant of the course, 19 year old finance and medical science student Sara Sukudom.

The five teams presented new solutions for a range of medical issues, which also included burns first-aid, rehabilitation compliance and measuring bone depth in wrist fracture surgeries.

The Perth Biodesign course is a fast-paced, hands-on courses for aspiring biomedical innovators and entrepreneurs with a drive to improve healthcare in Australia and around the world. Over 6 months, multidisciplinary teams identify unmet clinical needs and work towards providing a solution, whilst learning about the medical device development process of prototyping, writing patents, developing regulatory, IP, reimbursement, business and funding strategies.

This year, Accelerating Australia received more than 140 applications for only 25 positions available in the 2018 Perth Biodesign course. In 2017, the course resulted in the establishment of six medical device start-ups.

Course co-director, Dr Matthew Oldakowski, said that JR TeCH was a deserving recipient of the top prize:

“After 5 months of hard work, all the teams identified strong unmet clinical needs and presented innovative solutions to address them at the Perth Biodesign final presentations last night and so it was difficult for our judges to choose an overall winner. However, JR TeCH provided a very compelling need and an elegant solution with their technology eMotionGait and were a well deserving overall winner. Urfree, who won the People’s Choice award, identified the potential to improve the lives of an underserved patient population with their technology, Continence+. Congratulations to all the teams and thanks again to all the mentors that supported them.”

JR TeCH team member, Caroline Chapman says:

“JR Tech was thrilled and surprised to win the Perth Biodesign 2018 pitch night. The competition was strong, with all teams presenting fantastic and much needed medtech concepts. Perth Biodesign has been the backbone of our innovation journey, and we are grateful to the course directors Matt and Intan, Accelerating Australia and all our mentors.”

In late 2017, Dr Matthew Oldakowski was sponsored by Accelerating Australia and St John of God Healthcare to attend the Global Faculty in Training course at Stanford Biodesign. He returned to Perth in June 2018 to run the course alongside his partner Intan Oldakowska, also an experienced biomedical engineer and entrepreneur.

The five teams presented their ideas to a panel of expert judges including Richard Lipscombe, managing director of Proteomics International, Kath Giles from Brandon Capital, Ann Damien from Cook Medical, James Williams from Yuuwa Capital and visiting all the way from Canada, Michael May, who is the CEO of CCRM and sits on several boards and advisory committees including MaRS Innovation.

Top prize winners JR TeCH walk away with a prize pool worth $15,000 including in-kind services from Wrays, RSM, KPMG, Progressive Medical, Namsource and Celine Royet from UP Compliance. One team member will also be flown to Adelaide to present at the Accelerating Australia national symposium in late November. Audience prize winners Urfree will receive in-kind services worth $10,000 from Wrays, Ernst & Young, KPMG, Anthea Downs from CBS Therapeutics and an exploration session and project outline provided by the Inventors Hub.

Expressions of interest are now open for the 2019 Perth Biodesign course here.