Fast-track to commercialisation for two child-focused Griffith technologies

(L-R) Dr David Bade, Queensland Children's Hospital, Dr Martina Barzan, Research Fellow, Griffith University and Associate Professor Chris Carty, Advancing Queensland Research Fellow, Griffith University

Two teams of Griffith University researchers have been given the opportunity to fast-track their technologies to market, after being accepted into one of Australia’s leading Healthtech accelerators, LuminaX, run by Cohort Innovation Space in the Gold Coast Health and Knowledge Precinct (GCHKP).

Both emerging enterprises are focused on addressing key challenges in childrens’ health.

The first has developed a world-leading surgery simulation technology to tackle complex orthopaedic procedures, starting with paediatric surgeries, while the second will roll out a unique developmental monitoring, screening and assessment tool, to be empowered by AI, for the early detection of children with developmental delays.

LuminaXis a 14-week program that validates and commercialises selected early-stage, high-growth activities applying tech or AI solutions to healthcare, medtech and wellness.

Now in its third year, LuminaX received more than 70 applications, half from outside Queensland and almost 10 per cent from overseas, with a highly-competitive selection process determining the most promising 11 start-ups.

Associate Professor Chris Carty and Dr Martina Barzan, of the Griffith Centre of Biomedical and Rehabilitation Engineering, together with Dr David Bade have founded OrthoDynamics to take their personalised surgical planning technology to market, after clinical trials demonstrated the approach improved accuracy and patient outcomes, while slashing surgery time by more than a third.

(L-R) Professor Diane Shanley, Dr Wei Liu and Dr Erinn Hawkins start LuminaX

Dr Wei Liu, Dr Erinn Hawkins and Professor Dianne Shanley, of the Menzies Health Institute Queensland, formed their start-up YourTrack to commercialise a non-specialist assessment tool that can be used by educators, youth workers, community nurses and others to detect children who aren’t on track, enabling timely access to the professional assistance they need.

Dr Barzan, a Biomedical Engineer who was named 2021 Queensland Fresh Scientist, said she hopes the LuminaX opportunity will help determine a path to scale their technology and secure investment.

“With my fellow founder, Associate Professor Carty and with support from orthopaedic surgeon Dr Bade, we’ve been able to take our world-first workflow of functional modelling of surgeries for children needing complex hip deformity corrections into three Queensland hospitals, with more than 20 surgeries performed to date,” Dr Barzan said.

“We use our digital twin pre-operative simulation process to produce 3D printed surgical cutting guides at Griffith’s Advanced Design and Prototyping Institute (ADaPT), which then streamlines the procedures and produces better outcomes for patients.”

Associate Professor Carty, a Queensland AdvancingClinical Research Fellow based at the Queensland Children’s Hospital, said the approach can be applied to other complex surgeries, which enhances their business model.

“We can significantly shorten surgeries, cut waiting times, reduce exposure to intraoperative radiation and reduce complications and re-surgery rates,” said Assoc Professor Carty.

“This results in savings for the healthcare system, and we believe this will drive uptake of our technology, particularly as we scale to other types of orthopaedic surgeries.”

Professor Shanley, a clinical psychologist and prominent expert in improving health service delivery said the team is strongly motivated to support vulnerable children, particularly in remote Indigenous communities, through making access to assessment, and early intervention, much easier.

“We know that nearly one in five children are already falling behind by the time they start school, rising to almost one in two children in vulnerable groups, but unfortunately four out of five parents do not seek support,” Professor Shanley said.

“We needed an easily accessible, user friendly and affordable assessment tool that was applicable to all ages and accurately identifies the level of delay — the Rapid Neurodevelopmental Assessment (RNDA-Aus) will be part of the first such evidence-based clinical decision-support tool in Australia.”

Dr Hawkins, who co-developed the tool with a team in Bangladesh, highlighted how the tool enabled support within low socio-economic communities. She said LuminaX would provide the opportunity to scale the digital solution using AI, and support Dr Liu to take the lead from a business perspective.

“So far we’ve created a preliminary digital platform to roll out the 30-minute assessment embedding co-designed tracking tools that provide a holistic understanding of a child (medical, developmental, social-emotional, learning, cultural),” Dr Hawkins said.

“Our solution will be a scalable national platform of AI-based expertise and clinical decision support for children who are developmentally not-on-track.”

Dr Peter Binks, Vice President (Industry and External Engagement).

Griffith University’s Vice President of Industry and External Engagement, Dr Peter Binks, said having a Healthtech accelerator program in the GCHKP on the doorstep of the Gold Coast campus, provides the innovation ecosystem needed to successfully translate research.

“We’re delighted that our two teams of innovative researchers have been selected in a strong line-up for this year’s program, and particularly pleased that both are translating technologies that will have real global health and social impacts.

“LuminaX is an outstanding accelerator, and our research leaders will learn a lot, very quickly. These are two of our most exciting teams, and most important initiatives, and we are thrilled that they have this opportunity.”

Since launching in 2021 LuminaX has accelerated 21 Australian startups with $1.2M in direct capital through our VC partners and mentors network, provided connections to over 200 clinicians and experts, linked 9 startups with access to clinical trials and research projects, and supported raising another $2M post-program.