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New role to develop international MedTech partnerships

Media Release - University of Auckland - 20 March 2017

New role to develop international MedTech partnerships

Developing more international partnerships and investor opportunities for medical technology is the focus of Dr Diana Siew’s new role as strategic partnership specialist for the University of Auckland’s bioengineering institute.

Her role with the Auckland Bioengineering Institute (ABI ) will contribute to growth of the MedTech Centre of Research Excellence (MedTech CoRE) and the Consortium for Medical Device Technologies (CMDT).

She has a strong innovation, research management and relationship management background in New Zealand’s medical technology sector.

Dr Siew will retain her role as co-chair of the CMDT that sits alongside the MedTech CoRE. She is also an Associate Director for the MedTech CoRE, responsible for strategic partnerships and seed funding.

Dr Siew is an alumna of the University of Auckland with a doctorate in Chemistry and many years’ experience in New Zealand’s medtech environment, including past roles with Industrial Research Ltd and Callaghan Innovation.

“My new focus will be working alongside the ABI to progress the MedTech CoRE and CMDT,” she says. “Five years ago, Professor Peter Hunter and I co-founded the CMDT to reduce the isolation of medical technology research institutions around the country.”

“Feedback from multi-nationals then was that they found it hard to work in New Zealand with its large number of different research organisations in the medical health technology space,” she says. “They sometimes didn’t know where to start to find all the people for a particular focus.”

“We developed the CMDT as a national network to highlight New Zealand’s medtech activity and connect companies, the research industry, health providers and government stakeholders,” she says. “It’s the NZ Inc front for medtech research in this country and makes it easier for multi-national companies to work here.”

The CMDT is led by a partnership of the University of Auckland with the universities of Canterbury, Otago, AUT, Victoria University of Wellington and Callaghan Innovation.

“It sits alongside the MedTech CoRE which is the translational research pipeline of new technologies for the medtech sector,” says Dr Siew. “We now have a high level of trust in the network and transparency between the partners,” says Dr Siew.

Earlier this month, the CMDT partners hosted a workshop for a group of Japanese researchers, companies and funders to support a collaboration between the two countries, focussed on developing new technologies for elderly care.

Another of Dr Siew’s achievements while at Callaghan Innovation was founding the Standing Trial Population Centres that support fast early-stage validation studies of medical devices and digital health systems to accelerate technology development for both health and economic outcomes.

“This platform accelerates the ability of a medtech company to get quick validation for prototypes and concepts that they are working on,” she says. “This reduces the time and expense in identifying clinical expertise and recruiting patients.”

It is an easy access tool for multi-nationals to see the four main areas where the Standing Trials Population Centres operate – in technologies for elderly care, rehabilitation innovation, and remote community care, and design and development for new devices.

Waikato District Health Board’s Institute of Healthy Ageing and AUT are key partners to two of the Standing Trials Populations Centres.

Another initiative developed by Dr Siew for medtech in New Zealand, is a showcase on the latest technologies available in New Zealand.

These Technology Innovation Knowledge and Interchange (TIKI) tours focus on the latest innovations for busy clinicians in health boards and other health organisations.

“The TIKI tours are intended to be a discussion platform between clinicians at district health boards and New Zealand health tech innovators,” she says.

“It’s about alerting clinicians to what technologies are coming out – both from industry and research institutions, so that they are aware of these for use in our health system.”

The first two TIKI tours were hosted by the CMDT and NZHIT and held for Southland and Waitemata DHBs. Two more are in planning in Auckland and Wellington.

Four years ago, together with the Medical Technology Association of NZ (MTANZ), Dr Siew also initiated HealthTech Week – a forum to bring together the medtech sector in one week to discuss issues and ideas, and to network.

The week brings together industry, clinicians, researchers, government and investors over a series of events. It has a day dedicated to upskilling start-up companies in market intelligence and provides a forum for investors to view the next pipeline of opportunities.

The fourth HealthTech Week will be held in June this year with the theme of Technology-Enabled Healthcare. It will explore the strategic issues facing the industry and opportunities from the implementation of the NZ Health Research Strategy.


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