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Powerhouse completes investment in Auckland UniServices

Powerhouse completes investment in Auckland UniServices spin out, Objective Acuity

Auckland, 2 November 2016 - Powerhouse (ASX: PVL), the developer of intellectual property based businesses, is pleased to announce it has completed investment into Objective Acuity Ltd, a spin-out from Auckland UniServices, developing a novel quantitative test of visual acuity. Powerhouse has committed to invest up to NZD 450,000 subject to certain milestones being met.

Objective Acuity is founded on technology originating out of the University of Auckland’s School of Optometry and Vision Science and the Auckland Bioengineering Institute. The technology was invented by Dr Ben Thompson, an Associate Professor at the University of Auckland and Dr. Jason Turuwhenua, a research fellow at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute.

Over an individual's lifetime, 60% to 70% of all people will need visual correction at one stage or another. Traditional measurements of visual acuity, performed by optometrists, orthoptists and ophthalmologists, are subjective and involve input from both the subject and the operator. This becomes an issue with testing visual acuity in uncooperative individuals or young children.

Objective Acuity’s technology is aimed at objectively measuring visual acuity and providing a readout by detecting involuntary eye movement towards moving objects. The technology works by tracking the involuntary, reflexive eye movement that is produced when an individual's visual system detects movement and providing a quantitative readout. This readout will provide practitioners with an objective measurement of visual acuity and is to be aimed at visual eye assessment in young children. The company aims to bring the visual acuity testing technology to both local and international markets.

Adam Podmore has joined Objective Acuity as its CEO. Prior to joining Objective Acuity, Adam worked as Commercialisation Manager at Auckland UniServices and has experience commercialising various technologies including biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical devices and animal health. Adam has had experience in business planning, capital raising and licensing of technology globally.

“It’s been known that optokinetic nystagmus - (eye movement caused by a moving object - OKN) is a really good measure of how well someone sees. But until now no one has developed an objective measure of OKN,” Podmore says.

With the new system, a child can sit on their parent’s lap in front of screen watching a moving stimulus. If they can see the movement, it induces OKN, which is measured by a head and eye tracking device. Novel imaging processing algorithms extract the OKN image from the video footage of the subject’s eyes.

“Eye charts are only good for a certain age, because you need a cooperative subject that can speak. With this technology, you don’t need any communication at all and you don’t have to hold the child’s head still. It’s completely objective,” says Podmore.

'We are delighted with the calibre of IP associated with this investment. This is our first investment partnership with Auckland UniServices and a welcome addition to our Medical and Healthcare portfolio,” says Colin Dawson, Chief Operating Officer of Powerhouse.

Powerhouse specialises in developing and shaping research from New Zealand and Australian universities into world changing businesses. It has developed a unique approach, providing access to business building expertise, capital, networks, recruitment and ongoing business support. Its portfolio currently comprises 22 early stage to mature businesses founded on university and research institute intellectual property. The Company listed on the ASX on 12 October 2016.


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