Medtechs shine at WAIOTY

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WAIOTY Winners 2021 Vision Pharma
Prof Sue Fletcher AO won the WA Innovator of the Year Award with her Vision Pharma team

Some of WA’s most cutting-edge companies were recognised at the 2021 WA Innovator of the Year awards on Wednesday at a glitzy awards night up at Fraser’s.

The awards were presented by Minister for Innovation and ICT Don Punch, who also announced the New Industries Fund (NIF) will receive an additional $16.7 million for the next four years. Established in 2017, the NIF now has funding through to 2025.

Forming part of the state government’s larger $100 million Investment Attraction and New Industries Fund, the NIF funds programs such as the Innovator of the Year awards, as well as the $20K Innovation Voucher Program.

First launched in 2006, the WA Innovator of the Year awards took an understandable break last year, but was back in 2021 to showcase WA’s brightest innovators and entrepreneurs.

Vision Pharma was judged the overall WA Innovator of the Year 2021 and was awarded a $70,000 cash prize.

The RNA therapeutics startup is developing the world’s first precision medicine to treat the blinding eye disease Retinitis Pigmentosa type 11.

This inherited eye disease causes the retina cells to die, with afflicted patients becoming more and more blind until total blindness sets in. 3,000-4,000 people are affected every year worldwide. There is no current treatment for RP11.

Drs Fred Chan, Rohan Hockings, Janya Grainok and Professor Sue Fletcher AO are part of the team that has developed the precision medicine that can treat RP11.

Minister Don Punch

The winners and the finalists of this year’s awards are first-class examples of the world-leading innovation and technology being developed right here in Western Australia.

Through initiatives like the Innovator of the Year program, the WA Government is helping the State’s emerging businesses commercialise their technologies.

Thank you to everyone involved in the WA Innovator of the Year 2021, including primary sponsor Rio Tinto and platinum award sponsors Business News, Wesfarmers and Woodside.

Innovation and ICT Minister Don Punch
(Left) Dr Lachlan Kelsey and Assoc Prof Barry Doyle from Navier Medical (Right) Sean Pepper from Roofus

Winners were also named in five other categories and share in prizes totalling $70,000:

  • Rio Tinto Growth Category – Roofus Tools for their multi-purpose angle square;
  • Rio Tinto Emerging Category – Navier Medical for their advanced coronary artery assessment project;
  • Business News ‘Great for the State’ – VeinTech for their VeinWave project;
  • Wesfarmers Wellbeing – VitalTrace for their novel device for monitoring babies during childbirth; and
  • Woodside Oil & Gas – Sapien Cyber for their building management systems cyber security project.
WAIOTY-Winners 2021 VitalTrace VeinTech
(Left) Drs Arjun Kaushik and Michael Challenor of VitalTrace (Right) Nick Buckley and Nikhilesh Bappoo from VeinTech.

More information on the successful recipients can be found here.