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New Prototyping and Manufacturing Facility to Accelerate MedTech in Victoria

Image Credits: RMIT, Press Release

Victoria’s Minister for Higher Education announced the launch of the Victorian Medical Device Prototyping and Scale-Up Facility which is supported by AU$ 12.7 million in funding from the Victorian Higher Education State Investment Fund (VHESIF).

The new facility will focus on home-grown technologies and advanced, personalised healthcare devices for prevention and diagnosis and, is the first ISO-accredited prototyping facility in Asia-Pacific to support the rapid translation of partnered and industry-led research projects in wearable, wearable and flexible medical technologies. The facility also aims to gather start-ups, small businesses and researchers to collaborate on field and clinical trials, toward regulatory certification and commercialisation.

The state-of-the-art facility, to be developed at RMIT’s City campus, will help cement Victoria’s unique position as a medical device manufacturing and prototyping hub for Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. The Minister noted it is a significant investment in medical technology that will drive innovation to support the healthcare needs of people across Australia.

The RMIT Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation and Vice-President stated that the initiative would create jobs, develop skills and build future opportunities, to advance post-pandemic renewal. He added that the skills required to design, build, integrate, operate and use data from medical devices cover every sector and will be integral to both economic recovery and sovereign capability. This new facility bridges the gap between research and impact, supporting the deep collaborations we need to accelerate the translation of brilliant ideas into innovative, home-grown technologies, he said.

The ISO-accredited facility is the first of its kind in Australia and the Asia-Pacific. It will be accessible to universities and industries across the region for collaborations on nearables (wireless electronic devices that can be worn as accessories, embedded in clothing or implanted in the body), nearables (smart devices that can sense and send data but do not need to be attached to a person) and flexible medical technologies (soft, skin-like and ultralight electronics).

The RMIT Project Leader and Co-Director of RMIT’s Functional Materials and Microsystems Research Group said the medical devices developed at the facility would improve and save lives. The home-grown technologies and solutions developed at the facility will benefit critical support and care sectors including disability support, mental health, aged care and family violence.

Led by RMIT University, the project consortium includes universities (Swinburne University, Deakin University, Monash University), industry partners, quality management and design partners and peak bodies (Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre, Cooperative Research Australia, MTP Connect).

Supporting innovative local technology

With its focus on wearables and nearables, the new facility will expand the capabilities and commercial potential of Melbourne’s renowned biomedical research sector. Keeping design and manufacturing local, the facility will support the development and commercialisation of innovative technologies, with initial projects set to include:

Forging a unique path

The Victorian Medical Device Prototyping and Scale-Up Facility will be a one-of-a-kind pathway for medical device accreditation, attracting talent and investment.

The VHESIF funding initiative behind this announcement was developed in response to the significant impact of the coronavirus pandemic on universities. The same round of funding will also support the electric vehicles applied research facility at RMIT.

Both projects are part of the Victorian Government’s $62.5 million investment in RMIT to support post-pandemic economic and social recovery in Melbourne, including $44.6 million in VHESIF funding to continue the development of RMIT’s social innovation precinct.

Creating an advanced manufacturing and design ecosystem

Complementing facility is a dynamic manufacturing ecosystem of partners, entrepreneurs and services who will partner with Australian start-ups and small businesses to support new ideas from concept through planning, prototyping, scale-up, trials, design, user experience, data insights and commercialisation.

An engagement program will nurture the participation of young people and women in STEM fields, working closely with schools and career counsellors to showcase careers in STEM and advanced technologies.

The facility will build capability and support the development of new technologies in a booming field, with global spending on wearables expected to total US$81.5 billion this year – an 18.1% leap from US$ 69 billion in 2020. The Victorian Medical Device Prototyping and Scale-Up Facility are expected to be in operation by mid-2023.


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