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$4.3M awarded to 9 healthcare startups

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// // The WA Government's Future Health Research and Innovation (FHRI) Innovation Seed Fund has announced its first investments ...

Nine WA-based health and medical startups have reason to celebrate as they have secured more than $4.3 million in funding to advance their respective innovative projects. The investment comes from the 2022-23 Future Health Research and Innovation (FHRI) Fund Innovation Seed Fund, and is aimed at fostering local innovation, creating high-level health sector jobs, and boosting the production capacity of Western Australia.

The FHRI Seed Fund serves as a crucial pillar of support for budding innovators in the region, facilitating the development and commercialization of their groundbreaking ideas. These projects are expected to not only change lives but also attract further investment and evolve into sustainable businesses.

These startups have the potential to change lives, and this funding will help them secure capital and develop into sustainable businesses. The Innovation Seed Fund is all about building the number of local health and medical innovation start-ups, and supporting them to take their groundbreaking ideas to market

Medical Research Minister Stephen Dawson

Among the recipients of the funds is EarFlo (EarBuddy Pty Ltd), a non-invasive device that is being developed to treat glue ear in young children discreetly, which resembles a sippy cup. This not only aids children in avoiding developmental delays but also eliminates the need for an up to three year wait for costly and invasive grommet surgery.

In addition to its immediate benefits, the development of the EarFlo device will bolster manufacturing capacity in WA, setting the stage for future medical device innovations and contributing to the diversification of the State’s economy. The device is being trialled in the Pilbara, with the Earbus Foundation (see main photo above).

Dr. Samantha South is also on the list of recipients, working on improving therapeutic delivery methods to slow or even halt the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Furthermore, Professor Peter Leedman is undertaking the development of a novel RNA-based therapy for liver cancer, representing yet another stride in the ongoing battle against this deadly disease.

Another worthy recipient, VitalTrace, led by Dr. Lee Hubble, will use the funding to advance the development of DelivAssure, a foetal monitoring biosensor with the potential for commercialization. DelivAssure is aimed at enhancing maternal and foetal outcomes during childbirth by enabling clinicians to promptly identify foetal distress, thereby preventing complications such as brain damage and reducing the need for unnecessary C-sections.

Last week, a new WA venture fund (Fund WA) announced it had invested in VitalTrace as well.

The 9 FHRI recipients

  1. Dr. Stuart Gunzburg – Virex Pharma Ltd
  2. Dr. Lee Hubble – VitalTrace Pty Ltd
  3. A/Prof Charlene Kahler – The University of Western Australia
  4. A/Prof Lea-Ann Kirkham – Telethon Kids Institute on behalf of UWA
  5. Prof. Peter Leedman – The University of Western Australia
  6. Dr. Intan Oldakowska – EarFlo (EarBuddy Pty Ltd)
  7. A/Prof Mark Reed – HAVApp Pty Ltd
  8. Dr. Samantha South – Argenica Therapeutics
  9. Prof. Minghao Zheng – The University of Western Australia


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Startup News has been the home of West Australian startup news and events since 2013. We publish several news stories, interviews, tips and events relating to WA startups every week, with over 1,900 articles in our archives. We also produce the 'Startup West' podcast, and host the 'Hubs (Ecosystem)' database of WA startup programs, places and events.
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