According to Olumide Opeyemi, the business of science is all about people.
When he arrived in Brisbane to start his PhD at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Olumide attended as many seminars as possible on the topic of medical research commercialisation. His PhD research focused on developing imaging technology for occult cardiovascular disease and left-sided breast cancer, and he was determined to see this work come to fruition in the ‘real world’.
This determination still holds strong as he continues his project based at Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital and the Translational Research Institute (TRI) while lecturing at QUT.
“I intend to use my research to create an imaging artificial intelligence clinical application, to standardise protocols for medical imaging. The endgame is to improve current diagnostic protocols, and democratise the technology for worldwide access,” he said.
During his Master’s degree, Olumide worked for a company to commercialise a fitness app. He combined computer science and biophysics to create a sensor that tracked tennis rackets on the court in real-time. While this was an important learning experience, he realised he needed to develop his knowledge of the medtech commercialisation pathway, but most importantly he needed guidance from mentors to navigate it successfully.
“I attended seminars and as many information sessions as I could to learn from previous failures. I sought guidance from my mentors and opportunities to make new connections. I realised that at the end of the day, processes don’t work without people” he said.
Olumide has come closer to reaching his goal thanks to his pursuit of commercialisation knowledge, engaging the right mentors, and by participating in programs including the BridgeTech Program.
“Mentorship is so important. It gives direction so no time is wasted troubleshooting, debugging, second-guessing, or overthinking. It has been a privilege being pointed in the right direction by people of immense experience throughout my research journey and those I’ve connected with through the BridgeTech Program,” he said.
Expect to connect and form a community with people
The BridgeTech Program’s flagship event is an annual three-day Symposium, which brings together program participants from around the country to meet in person and online. Here, medtech industry leaders present on their commercialisation journeys, innovations and strategies, and interact directly with participants at networking events and collaborative activities.
It was at this event that Olumide connected with new mentors that will guide him in the next part of his journey. “At the Symposium event in Melbourne, I comprehensively learnt the importance of curated accountability-based mentorship and sponsorship. I also made friends for life,” he said.
“The collective power of people in driving successful medtech enterprise was the overarching personal lesson in all the presentations and activities. I felt like there was no problem that couldn’t be solved by the bright minds present in that seminar room,” he added.
When asked what others can expect from this part of the program, Olumide said: “You can expect to connect and form a community with people”.
The importance of the pitch and being clinically relevant
A collaborative pitching exercise was one of the most rewarding sessions of the Symposium for Olumide. Participants worked in groups to apply course-gained knowledge to formulate a pitch for a medtech concept. A panel of judges assessed the pitches and provided feedback based on industry experience.
“I’ve used my new pitching skills from the program materials and this session already. I can see how they are necessary to be nimble in the marketplace. Academics need to be able to pitch their work to make a deal, to translate a concept into the hands of clinicians and end users,” Olumide said.
“I also heard Dr Daniel Timms (CEO of BiVACOR) present at a previous Symposium. He emphasised for me the importance of making research clinically relevant. It is with the guidance of clinicians that research transitions successfully from bench to bedside,” he added.
Networking that works
Thanks to networking with Dr Timms and other industry contacts at these events, Olumide was connected with mentors for his Bridge and BridgeTech Industry Fellowship with medtech manufacturer, WearOptimo. The fellowship, awarded to Olumide earlier this year, offers industry placement opportunities to Bridge Program and BridgeTech Program alumni including early to mid-career researchers, entrepreneurs and MTP professionals. The fellowship will allow Olumide to develop his skills, build networks and advance his ability to achieve commercialisation outcomes. Fellowship industry partners gain access and insight into Australia’s next generation scientists and share and disseminate knowledge, skills and networks.
A nation-wide network of medtech professionals
Each year 80 people from a diverse range of professions and institutions around Australia are selected to join the BridgeTech Program. Fully-funded by MTPConnect and a consortium of industry and university partners, BridgeTech Program participants join one of the country’s most significant medtech professional networks. They participate in a series of events, activities and seminars, while undertaking self-paced, online training to develop a comprehensive understanding of the medtech commercialisation pathway.