From virtual reality that could repair brain damage, to artificial intelligence that detects diseases, 22 of the country’s most innovative and life changing healthcare ideas and initiatives have been whittled down to just eight.
An impressive 128 entries were received from across the country for the HealthTech Supernode Challenge launched on 29 June, which seeks to accelerate the future of healthcare and cement Ōtautahi Christchurch as a hotbed of health tech innovation in New Zealand.
Sponsored by ChristchurchNZ, Kiwi Innovation Network (KiwiNet) and Ryman Healthcare, the HealthTech Supernode Challenge aims to identify and generate commercially viable solutions that address real healthcare problems, with a special focus on the Aged Care and Rural New Zealand sectors.
The 22 challenge semi-finalists went through an intensive six-week accelerator programme, working through key development phases for their venture including market validation, product development, business models, investment, and more. They have received guidance and support from the innovation community, working alongside startup incubator, Te Ōhaka, and founder incubator, ThincLab.
From this programme, judges selected eight finalists who will pitch their ventures at the final Demo and Awards Evening to the expert judging panel which includes media commentator and microbiologist, Dr. Siouxsie Wiles, and Ian Town, Chief Science Advisor for the Ministry of Health.
The Demo and Awards Evening takes place on 22 October at Manawa in the heart of Christchurch’s Te Papa Hauora Health Precinct, and winners will be announced on the night.
Boyd Warren, ChristchurchNZ’s General Manager – Innovation & Business Growth, said hosting the Challenge in Ōtautahi Christchurch has reinforced the city’s reputation as New Zealand’s testbed for healthtech innovation.
“Experts across the health sector from business, education, public agencies and start-ups have worked together to deliver the Challenge and provide the best support, connections and advice to entrants. The level of sophistication we’ve seen in the finalists and semi-finalists is testament to the strength of the sector and the spirit of collaboration – providing a fertile testbed from which to grow global healthtech businesses.”
Alexandra Stuthridge, Commercialisation Manager at Kiwi Innovation Network (KiwiNet) says, “In order for our country and economy to be set up for success, to be resilient to change and global impacts, and to rebuild and thrive, we need innovation. New ideas and clever start-ups create jobs and revenue, and benefit our communities who can access these novel technologies and services.
Now is a hugely exciting time for New Zealand as we increase investment in innovations that can change our world. The Healthtech Challenge and our eight finalists clearly show our country’s potential for creating exceptional ideas and impact.”
The 8 finalists of the HealthTech Supernode Challenge 2020 are:
2. Accessible Insulin Pump
3. The Next Step in Neonatal Resuscitation
4. Teleophthalmology : Access to specialist eye care made easy
5. Diagnostic, Implantable Sensor System for Spinal Fusion
6. BiSSkApp: Engineering Recovery for Swallowing Impairment
7. Myovolt Wearable Therapeutic Device for Rehabilitation
8. HT Systems Kera transfer aid
The eight finalists are vying for a total prize pool of more than $340,000. This includes a Canterbury District Health Board validation contract, an opportunity to develop their product directly within Ryman Healthcare’s innovation team, the potential for startup investment, and a rare invitation to a further startup incubator programme. All Challenge finalists will receive extensive profile, new networks and exposure to one of the country’s most prolific health innovation ecosystems.
Rick Davies, Head of Technology and Innovation at Ryman Healthcare is effusive about the role of entrepreneurs in solving society’s big issues.
“In aged care, the extent that we innovate through new tools, techniques and technologies will be a huge determiner of New Zealand’s success in keeping up with the rapidly increasing population of older people in New Zealand. We are hugely excited by the entrepreneurial spirit and creativity of applicants in the Healthtech Challenge and we think their work has huge potential to improve quality of life for older people.”