A new research hub is set to transform Australia’s medical technology sector by developing cost-competitive technologies for the rapid production of medical devices.
Researchers from The University of Queensland’s Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology have teamed up with experts from industry, government and academia to launch the Australian Research Council (ARC) Research Hub for Advanced Manufacturing of Medical Devices (AMMD Hub).
With researchers based at Cook Medical Australia, the AMMD Hub will focus on the development of advanced materials, improved manufacturing technologies and flexible processing capabilities.
UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj said one of the key goals for this hub was to create better health outcomes for patients in Australia and around the globe.
“One of the intended outcomes is to reduce the time it takes to design, manufacture and supply custom-made medical devices such as endovascular stent grafts for patients with aortic aneurysm – an increasingly common condition that currently has post-rupture survival rates of only 10 to 20 per cent,” said Professor Høj.
“It’s an exciting venture with lots of potential, and we look forward to celebrating the results.”
Researchers have already begun work in the area of lean manufacturing to improve the production times of custom-made devices to surgeons.
Projects looking at adaptive automation systems, metallic biomaterials and collaborative robotics are also underway.
Cook Medical Australia General Manager Dr Samih Nabulsi said the AMMD Hub would enable growth in the sector and would translate into jobs and an increased global market share for manufactured medical device technologies developed in Australia.
“Our primary goal is to improve patient health outcomes, but we are also growing workforce capability in the medical device industry and increasing the translation of new technology, which will also have a broad impact,” Dr Nabulsi said.
In 2016, the AMMD Hub was awarded $2.79 million in ARC funding for five years. This investment was matched by industry partners, with a total value of more than $10 million of cash and in-kind funding.
Australian Research Council Chief Executive Officer Professor Sue Thomas acknowledged the importance of advanced manufacturing to Australia’s economic future.
“This Research Hub’s industry-focused research collaboration will develop new, advanced materials and processes that will not only lead to tangible health outcomes for Australians, but also drive new technologies and skills that are vital for the competitiveness of Australia’s medical devices industry,” Professor Thomas said.
The ARC Industrial Transformation Research Hubs scheme engages Australia’s best researchers in issues facing the new industrial economies and training the future workforce.
The AMMD Hub brings together researchers from UQ, The University of the Sunshine Coast, The University of Sydney and RMIT with industry partners including Cook Medical Australia Pty Ltd., Robert Bosch (Australia) Pty Ltd., Heat Treatment (Qld) Pty Ltd. and QMI Solutions Ltd.