MedTech CoRE Director Professor Merryn Tawhai reflects on the CoRE’s achievements over the past five years, its importance to New Zealand and plans for the future.
What are the top achievements of the MedTech CoRE?
Fostering a genuinely collaborative, collegial and inclusive network of medtech researchers
Collaboration is embedded across the CoRE, from our management to co-leadership of research projects, bringing together academia, clinicians and industry. The CoRE has awarded $3.39m [MHT1] of contestable funding to a range of projects that are co-led by our Associate Investigators. This funding has supported the development of new collaborations and proofs-of-concept that have seeded new translational research projects.
So far, more than 130 postgraduate students have benefited from the MedTech CoRE’s Doctoral Training Programme (DTP) – a one-of-a-kind training programme in NZ that is fostering the next generation of researchers who can cross clinical and engineering boundaries. The DTP is an interactive programme that is constantly evolving to stay up-to-date with student needs and the requirements of the medtech industry.
Our spin-out companies
We have spun out 11 companies that are at various stages of growth. These companies have cumulatively raised ~$8M of new investment capital and have created 28 new high-value jobs. One of the standouts is Formus Labs, which custom-designs and personalises surgical planning of orthopaedic implants. Another is The Insides Company, which is developing a nutrient recycling technology for stomas post-bowel cancer surgery. The Insides Company is the first in NZ to be granted FDA Breakthrough Device designation for its product and is set to launch internationally.
Why is the MedTech CoRE so important for New Zealand?
The MedTech CoRE is central to the vibrant and productive medtech research community that supports growth of NZ’s medical technology sector. The development of internationally-competitive medical technologies hinges on both high-quality innovative research and on the successful translation of this basic science research to clinical implementation and commercial uptake.
The CoRE supports research into next-generation transformational technology solutions to critical, high-cost, and high-demand healthcare problems. Our new technologies will increase the wellbeing of New Zealanders by improving health, reducing healthcare costs, increasing equity of access to healthcare, and generating export revenues from their sale internationally.
What are the MedTech CoRE’s plans for the future?
We have just submitted our proposal for a ‘new’ MedTech CoRE, with a focus on ‘scale and sustainability’ to ensure that the CoRE continues to deliver transformative health and wellbeing benefits to NZ in the future. Our vision is to create a highly connected ecosystem that supports uptake of CoRE outputs, including NZ users of medical technologies, government, and research and industry partners. Using our deep science foundation, the CoRE will grow the medtech sector over the next decade with technologies that support new ways of delivering healthcare that are fair and accessible to all, and have high value economic growth opportunities.
In our new CoRE we plan on supporting a range of exciting new ‘Excellence Projects’ that will be creating new knowledge on the application of computational physiological models and bioinstrumentation in novel translational technologies that support personalised, patient-centred, and productive delivery of healthcare. Our scaled-up capacity development programme is aimed at producing a new generation of innovative and entrepreneurial medtech leaders who understand translational science, its commercialisation, and regulatory and quality issues.
We also have new initiatives and partnerships to increase the proportion of women, Māori, and Pasifika, who work expertly across science, engineering, clinical, and commercial divides in NZ medtech research, development, and translation.