Elizabeth Clarke has spent her career designing and conducting biomechanics research with a focus on high-impact, collaborative projects that improve the quality of life for patients. The prospect of commercialising her medtech inventions herself seemed like a natural next step. But like many other researchers, she needed to develop her knowledge and networks to do this successfully.
An Associate Professor at the University of Sydney and Director of the Murray Maxwell Biomechanics Laboratory at the Kolling Institute, Elizabeth leads a scientific research program focused on discovering new Medtech inventions, and a translational research program led by the needs and questions of clinicians and industry.
She does this because she loves the process of discovery and creating something new.
“But most importantly, I want my research to help patients and result in real products or changes to practice. Which is why I am interested in research commercialisation – it provides a real pathway to benefits for patients,” Elizabeth said.
Before applying for the BridgeTech Program, Elizabeth and her team had just completed a research project developing a kangaroo tendon xenograft for human Anterior Cruciate Ligament reconstruction with an industry partner.
“When it came to my next invention, I felt underprepared to take this journey myself. So, I applied for BridgeTech to gain the skills I need to commercialise my research and mentor others in my department to do the same.”
Learn online to prepare for learning in person
Elizabeth found the program’s online learning materials were a great way to expand her commercialisation knowledge before attending events in the seminar series. “The modules formed a great foundation. But I got the most out of actively taking part in as many of the program’s events as I could,” she said.
“For example, I attended an event at Cochlear’s headquarters in Sydney with presentations from the company’s leadership team. My takeaway from these talks was the philosophy of ‘if I can’t sell it, I don’t want to make it’.
“Scientists often think of research commercialisation as selling out or being greedy. But I believe it’s the best way to turn an idea into a real product that will help a patient. These talks resonated and created a shift in thinking for me.”
Three days to network and learn from those who know
The flagship event of the BridgeTech Program is a three-day Symposium, packed with presentations, an industry-guided collaborative activity, and dedicated networking sessions to interact with leaders from the program’s industry and university partner organisations.
“This year the Symposium was held at Luna Park in Sydney. I learnt a lot from presentations by inventors about their journeys, but most of all I enjoyed the collaborative activity. We pitched to an investor to license IP for a new (fictional) product. Not only did I have a great team – we formed a bond and had such a great time – but we had an industry representative sit at our table and lay out the options for us,” Elizabeth said.
It was also during this activity that Elizabeth had a revelation about her career pathway.
“The experience made me think about my IP and inventing in a different way and I am so grateful for that experience. It was important for my career and also just so enjoyable to do that with a great group of people at a similar stage. We might have got a little competitive, too.”
First-hand insights into the design-to-manufacture process
A full-day tour of Melbourne medtech manufacturing facilities hosted by the program and its consortium partners, led to new product ideas and a pitching opportunity for Elizabeth.
“The tour was great fun and I learnt how important it is to think about manufacturing from the start of the product design process in my own work. I made excellent connections on these visits – knowing that Bosch offers consulting services means that I have someone to call upon in a commercial context if I need to, and from touring the manufacturing facilities of 3DMEDiTech, Serkel, SmileStyler, and MEDiSwab, I came up with a new idea for one of our research inventions,” she said.
“I had a follow-up visit from Serkel’s General Manager at my lab in Sydney, where I got to pitch my idea to them as a potential collaboration. An absolutely amazing connection to make, and it would never have happened without BridgeTech.”
It’s the people you meet that make the difference
Elizabeth engaged with all the BridgeTech program’s resources and opportunities throughout the year-long program, including the pitching masterclass and competition, where she learnt to successfully pitch ideas to prospective investors, and competed for a US travel prize valued at $5k.
But she most enjoyed making connections.
“I enjoyed discussing ideas and journeys with other participants. We formed great bonds and learned together. I heard about so many great ideas and pathways from others. It was a truly amazing experience and I feel so lucky to have taken part in the program.”
Join 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 take part in a series of events, activities, and seminars while undertaking self-paced, online training to develop a comprehensive understanding of the medtech commercialisation pathway.
Apply for 2023
Applications for our 2023 program are currently open.