Many ground-breaking research projects in medicine and life science have been successfully commercialised at UWA and the Office of Research Development and Innovation (RDI) wants this to continue.
Most recently, Dr Samantha South, RDI Senior Commercialisation Officer helped secure up to $6 million from the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund for UWA’s latest start-up company OncoRes Medical.
The company will initially focus on the development of an imaging probe enabling breast cancer surgeons to identify residual cancer following the excision of the tumour, providing a solution to address the high re-excision rates for breast cancer patients.
Designed for a worldwide market, the tool has been developed over five years by a team led by Dr Brendan Kennedy, a Senior Research Fellow in the School of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering at UWA and Head of the Bioimaging Research and Innovation for Translational Engineering Lab (BRITElab) at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research.
Dr Kennedy said working with RDI helped them efficiently navigate and optimise the complex commercial contracts and establish important industry networks.
“Hopefully, our positive experience will encourage other UWA researchers to work with RDI to help take their innovation to commercialisation. It’s been fantastic to receive Sam’s guidance, without it we wouldn’t have come close to securing investment for our project,” Dr Kennedy said.
In her role Dr South helps researchers identify who owns the intellectual property (IP) and determine whether it can be protected, if there are possibilities for industry engagement and how to pitch for investment in a competitive market.
“I translate the commercialisation process. I write business plans, create and decipher legal contracts and manage the patenting process on behalf of UWA and research teams.
“The earlier researchers come and talk to me about their work the better. We can put a plan in place to avoid unexpected pitfalls and to identify what results to generate, that will be attractive to partners,” Dr South said.
The three most important questions to ask before commercialising UWA research are:
- Do we have the rights to commercialise the IP?
- Is there a competitive advantage to our technology?
- Is there an unmet market need?
Once these have been established RDI provides an option for the researcher to apply for the unique Pathfinder Fund, which is proof of concept funding (up to $100,000 per project) for developing technologies created at UWA.
Pathfinder can be used for developing a prototype, strengthening patent applications, carrying out field trials, conducting market research and funding external testing.
There are multiple factors that affect the attractiveness and success of any commercialisation project and UWA staff are on hand to discuss these with you.
Here Simon Handford discusses the role of RDI.
Contacts: Health sciences and agriculture: