Federal government agency steps up support for medical manufacturing

The Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) is seeking to showcase the potential of medical manufacturing in Australia to inspire international investment.

Launching a new digital health website, Austrade highlights Australia’s attractiveness as a location for developing, testing and launching new medical technologies.

Denise Eaton, senior advisor at Austrade noted that Australia is inherently primed for success in medical innovation.

“Our background – in terms of vast distances, remote settlements and a multicultural society – means we have a tradition of having to innovate,” said Eaton.

According to Austrade, its site has listings, case studies and data on sub-sectors such as telemedicine, precision medicine and genomics, big data and artificial intelligence, digital records and virtual reality.

Support for the development of new pharmaceuticals will be channelled through the $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).

The MRFF augments Australia’s existing role in the production of new medicines, which includes 50 clinical research networks and bio labs which conduct 1,300 clinical trials a year.

The production of new medicines in Australia draws upon Australia’s creative IT sector, history of producing Nobel laureates and devices such as the cochlear implant.

Eaton pointed out that there is an encouraging increase in outlay on medical manufacturing.

“Investment from venture capitalists more than doubled between 2016 and 2017. What’s more, we’re seeing a significant increase in interest from Asian investors – especially in medical science technology,” said Eaton.

Medical manufacturing in Australia in the past has led to the development of live-video equipment for real-time remote examination and diagnostics, integrated into electronic health records. Eaton noted the example of Visionflex, which has pioneered this technology.

The new website also highlights the medical manufacturer Anatomics, which uses 3D printing to help surgeons create customised implants and has in the past built a 3D printed titanium sternum and partial rib cage.