The health-related startups emerging in Australia from scientific research

  • The CSIRO’s ON Innovation Program is currently assessing applications for its latest accelerator program.
  • There’s a spike health-related startups coming out of scientific research in Australia.
  • One startup is called Noisy Guts which uses an acoustic belt to diagnose stomach disorders.

David Burt, with a background in management consulting and financial services, spends his days with scientists and researchers trying to make the world a better place.

He is the Executive Manager of the ON Innovation Program, Australia’s national science and technology accelerator powered by the national peak science organisation, the CSIRO.

“I get to spend all day hanging out with amazing researchers who are trying to make the world a better place,” he told Business Insider.

Burt’s job is to help researchers jump out of the science world and into a corporate vehicle, a process that can take ten or more years but compressed, or accelerated, down to two or three years.

These are the technologies which hopefully will become new companies, or industries, to create the jobs of the future.

“We have a large focus on the research community in our work,” he says.

“But we’re also trying to engage and help everyone in Australia understand why we’re doing what we’re doing, and the value of it.”

ON Innovation is currently assessing applications for new accelerator program.

At the moment there’s a spike around digital health. Australia has traditionally excelled at medical research.

“We have a large number of research teams that are developing some sort of what we would call health check, or digital health value proposition,” says Burt.

“And because they’re doing it in a research environment they’re able to sort of do that in a very ethical, effective way, in terms of being able to put those technologies through clinical trials to actually demonstrate the effectiveness of it.”

David Burt CSIRO

An example is Cardihab, part of the accelerator stream at ON Innovation Program, which uses smartphone apps and web portals so heart attack victims can work on their recovery from home rather than from hospital.

“They put it through a clinical trial and demonstrated that their digital solution was more effective than the in hospital patient program, which is something that a normal start-up wouldn’t be able to do,” he says.

And now Cardihab has attracted more than $2 million in venture capital to commercialise the technology.

Another example is Noisy Guts which uses an acoustic belt to record gut noises over time to help doctors accurately diagnose stomach disorders, starting with irritable bowel syndrome.

The team was inspired by acoustic sensing technology designed to pick up the munching sounds of termites.

Another is Coviu, a telehealth platform that is used by more than 1,100 healthcare professionals including psychiatrists, psychologists, physiotherapists, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, dietitians and nutritionists and general practitioners.

The cloud-based video consultation platform recently raised $1 million from venture capital firm Main Sequence Ventures. Coviu now has 2,000 customers around the world either using or trialling the service.

“We work with scientists and academics, to help them understand how do they get their technology, their science, their research out of the lab and into the world,” says Burt.

“Where they need help, is by understanding that if they want to change the world in a positive way, there’s a large group of people that have got to come together and be part of that journey.

“Most researchers, as they’re being trained, come to believe a story that says if you do great science, if publish a great journal and you present your work at a conference, that’s the end of the story.

“What we do is try to tap into the motivation for why they’re a scientist in the first place, and help them understand the role they can play in the first few steps with the technology outside of the lab.

“If you look at that technology transfer and performance in Australia, we have a lot of scientific output, but not a lot of intellectual property being commercialised.”