// Medical device startup VeinTech has taken first prize at the 2019 Perth Biodesign final presentations for their vascular imaging technology.
For most patients admitted to hospital, having a cannula (needle) placed into the arm is a necessary procedure to enable clinicians to either take blood for testing or provide fluids or medication.
These cannulas can be difficult to place successfully in certain circumstances, sometimes requiring up to five or more attempts.
Difficult intravenous access may mean that a less experienced doctor or nurse will need to call on more senior clinicians for assistance and eventually, ultrasound guided cannulation may be necessary.
The overall cost to the health care system is greater which includes clinician time and increased complications. Lifesaving tests and therapy can be drastically delayed and infection rates increase with each cannula attempt. Multiple attempts also cause significant pain and anxiety to the patient.
“We set out to create a solution that would be simple to use but also capable of reaching the depth required to cannulate an obese patient,” said VeinTech team member Dr Katherine Arenson.
“We are proud of our progress in the course. Over the past 6 months we identified the need, ideated a solution and have developed a working prototype, the VeinWave. We are also in touch with industry partners that can help with further developing our technology.”
The multidisciplinary team, who met for the first time at the course kick-off session in May, is made up of Nik Bappoo, a UWA biomedical engineering PhD student, Nick Buckley, a physiotherapist and paediatrics PhD student at Telethon Kids Institute, Ritu Mehta, a UWA Masters of Biotechnology graduate, Dr Katherine Arenson, an Emergency Consultant and Saleem Al Odeh, a UWA biomedical engineering student.
VeinTech was one of six teams who presented at last week’s Perth Biodesign event, competing for a prize pool donated by WAHTN, Perth Angels, Curtin University’s West Tech Fest and UWA Biomedical Engineering Society.
Other solutions presented a screening tool for dysphagia, prevention of pelvic floor muscle damage during childbirth, prevention of pressure ulcers and improving the quality of life of patients requiring long term catheterisation.
Winners of the audience prize, TT Medical presented an improved way of removing mucus in intubated patients in ICU.
They managed to win the hearts of the audience despite a last minute changeover in presenters, after team member Chris Carr stepped out to welcome a new baby into the family.
The Perth Biodesign course is a fast-paced, hands-on course for aspiring biomedical innovators and entrepreneurs with a drive to improve healthcare in Australia and around the world.
Over six months, multidisciplinary teams identify unmet clinical needs and work towards providing a solution, whilst learning about the medical device development process of prototyping, writing patents, developing regulatory, intellectual property, reimbursement, business and funding strategies.
The Perth Biodesign course has been run by Accelerating Australia for the past three years and this year received more than 140 applications for only 30 available places.
Course co-director, Dr Matthew Oldakowski, said that VeinTech was a deserving recipient of the top prize:
“After six months of hard work, all of the teams identified strong unmet clinical needs and presented innovative solutions to address them at the Perth Biodesign final presentations … so it was incredibly difficult for our judges and faculty to choose an overall winner.
“The VeinTech team has put in a lot of work and received fantastic support from their Alumni Fellow Caroline Chapman, who was also on the winning team in 2018, and Business Mentor Simon Graindorge.”
The six teams presented their ideas to a panel of expert judges including Bronwyn Le Grice, CEO of ANDHealth, Kath Giles from OncoRes Medical and James Williams from Yuuwa Capital.
Expressions of interest are now open for the 2020 Perth Biodesign Medtech course here.
Perth Biodesign will also be running a new Digital Health version of the course in 2020 thanks to an X-TEND WA grant funding from the New Industries Fund, managed by the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation, and a consortium of partners led by Telethon Kids Institute. Applications are open here.
MAIN PHOTO: VeinTech team members after winning the Overall Winner award at the 2019 Perth Biodesign presentation night. From Left: Saleem Al-Odeh, Katherine Arenson, Nicholas Buckley, Nik Bappoo, Ritu Mehta. Photo by CubPhoto