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The birth of a WA start-up: VitalTrace biosensors seek to improve childbirth outcomes

02/02/22 - Committed to empowering obstetricians and midwives to deliver the greatest outcomes for their patients, WA company VitalTrace is developing a highly accurate biosensor to improve the safety of mothers and babies during childbirth.


The technology used to monitor babies and mothers during childbirth has remained largely unchanged since the 1960s, often producing ambiguous, inaccurate readings. When a team in the 2016 Spark Co-Lab program (now Perth Biodesign), witnessed two midwives arguing about their interpretations of a monitoring reading for a mother and her unborn child, they decided that there was an unmet need that new technology could address.


So, the spark for VitalTrace was lit.


Though co-founders Dr Arjun Kaushik and Dr Michael Challenor cannot recall now how many pitches, presentations and meetings that they had in the early days of the company before securing initial capital, their hard work and need for their product has been recognised time and time again from the sector.


The company has successfully secured funding support through a Cooperative Research Centre Project (CRC-P) grant, an Accelerating Commercialisation grant, MTPConnect’s BioMedTech Horizons program and the WA Medical Manufacturing Voucher Scheme through the MTPConnect WA Life Sciences Innovation Hub.

MTPConnect Director of Stakeholder Engagement WA Dr Tracey Wilkinson said that bringing more manufacturing capability to WA is a key component of strengthening the state’s MTP sector.


“Manufacturing has a flow on effect throughout the ecosystem, and then through the economy,” she said. “Through a rigorous independent application process, our WA Voucher Scheme awarded five WA-based companies a total of $450,000 to accelerate innovation projects requiring advanced manufacturing capabilities, but with matched co-contributions of $600,000, the initiative injects more than $1 million into WA’s medical technology, biotechnology and pharmaceutical sector to drive job creation and economic growth.”


Dr Wilkinson noted that a 2020 roundtable on the topic of WA Medical Manufacturing was a major catalyst for the Scheme.


“Roundtables are a fantastic way to hear directly from the sector what their challenges are – what they truly need. But what good is it if we don’t walk away and take tangible action to address these?”


It is a mindset that appealed to sector leaders like Dr Kaushik and Dr Challenor, who attended the WA Medical Manufacturing roundtable.


The company is excited to use funding from the WA Voucher Scheme and BMTH program to build their in-house manufacturing capabilities, instead of relying on international partners and enabling them to retain value in the process.


Article taken from MTPConnect. Read the full article Here


Pictured. Front left: Dr Michael Challenor, (Co-Founder and CTO) Middle : Nadia Rahman (Scientist), right: Dr Shaghraf Javid (Electrochemist), rear: Robert Atkinson (Research Chemist and Patent Officer)


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