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  • Tim Kannegieter

IP factors in commercialising novel health sensors for wearables

Last Friday, Genesys exhibited its new Wireless Wearable Sensor technology at the UNSW Technology Translation Forum, a joint event of the Tyree Foundation Institute of Health Engineering and the ARC Hub on Connected Sensors for health.

Genesys joined other ARC Hub members (NeuRA | Flame Security International | Sydney Pain Management Centre | Walking Tall Health) to present their progress on their ARC Hub projects.

Genesys’ project involves creating a platform for easily developing advanced wireless wearable sensors with bespoke custom sensors that its customers are seeking to commercialise.

The theme of the event was exploring the role of IP in translating research to commercial outcomes. There was a consensus that there needs to be better incentives for both academics and entrepreneurs to enter into collaborative partnerships, with a focus to breaking down the barriers to commercialisation.

For example, one point made is that academics need to understand that the smaller number of papers published during industry projects is more than compensated by the greater impact of those papers.

There was also discussion about the importance of IP strategy and being prepared to defend an IP position, as the MedTech industry is one of the most litigious in the world. It is also important to gain early clarity around IP rights and how new IP generated in a collaborative project is shared. Well written contracts are critical to this and enable investors to attract ongoing investment.

From the industry perspective, it is also important to recognise that IP is not just about patents. For example, market knowledge and know-how are equally valuable and underpin most of the value of a modern organisation. In certain circumstances it can be better to protect IP as a trade secret rather than through patents.

The role of tech transfer offices at universities is key to facilitating the translational process and there needs to be a greater investment on the part of universities to facilitate this. It was noted the ratio of tech transfer officers to researchers in Australia is 1:143, where the international average is around 1:50.

A person looking at slides he is presenting
Genesys Co-CEO presenting an update of its ARC Hub project to develop a smart Wireless Wearable Sensing platform

Perhaps the most interesting conversation was around the motivation to innovate and commercialise medical technologies. It was pointed out that universities generally don’t make money on commercialisation of their research, so the commercial motivation is often not there. However, universities receive significant public funding and they need to demonstrate they ‘translating the outcomes of research into products and services that positively impact society”. It’s about closing the loop on the social contract.

For individuals driving the research and innovation in MedTech there is usually a strong altruistic motivation to improve the lives of those with challenging medical conditions.

Further, it was noted that successful commercialisation of research was becoming increasingly important for the career paths of academics. It is now expected that at least one successful commercialisation is a prerequisite for higher promotion in the academic system.

For that reason, academics need to have a better appreciation of regulatory approval processes and commercial scalability factors. In addition, they need to understand the process by which technology is de-risked, patent strategy, best practices in IP discussions, the timing publishing and determining the best commercialisation pathway around selling IP, licensing it or developing it.

Thanks to the speakers for their insights including UNSW Pro Vice-Chancellor Industry and Innovation, Scientia Professor Justin Gooding, (UNSW), Prof Madhu Bhaskaran (RMIT), Dr Duncan Macinnes (MTP Connect), Maria Lund (IP Group), John Parker (Saluda Medical) and Dr Ian Goon (Tyree Foundation IHealthE).

For more information about how our Wireless Wearable Sensor platform can help in the translation of novel sensors, contact us.

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