Winners of J&J Victorian QuickFire Challenge

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Johnson & Johnson Innovation and the Victorian government have announced the winners of the 'Victorian QuickFire Challenge: Driving Device Innovation'.

The winners were announced at the recently opened Johnson & Johnson Innovation Partnering Office at Monash University (JJIPO@Monash) in Melbourne.

The winners were awarded grants totalling $300,000, mentorship and coaching from medical device experts at Johnson & Johnson Innovation, and access to the Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS global entrepreneurial community.

The winning entries came from Atmo Biosciences, RMIT University, and Spect.

Atmo Biosciences is working on a non-invasive medical device in the form of an ingestible electronic capsule, developed and patented at RMIT University. The device gathers digital health data from gas concentrations as it passes through the gut, for the screening and diagnosis of gastrointestinal disorders and for assessing effects of dietary treatments on the gut.

“We are thrilled and honoured to win the Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS Victorian QuickFire Challenge, and would like to thank Johnson & Johnson Innovation and the Victorian Government for their commitment and support of medical device development in Australia," said CEO Malcolm Hebblewhite.

"Atmo is grateful for their assistance as we aim to improve gut health by becoming the gold standard for baseline screening of common GI problems, resulting in targeted treatment, earlier relief of symptoms for patients, and cost savings to the healthcare system.”

A team at RMIT University team led by Madhu Bhaskaran has developed electronics that stretch and flex, driving the development of ultra-light, stretchable, wearable sensors. 

"Moving away from bulky fitness trackers, imagine if you could have a thin, skin-like device which could track UV exposure over a duration of time," said associate professor Bhaskaran.

US-based Spect is focused on technologies to prevent curable blindness. Their first product is an eye camera and artificial intelligence platform to screen for diabetic eye disease at the point of care.

According to CEO Ankur Gupta, "We are humbled to have been selected as winners among all the other amazing companies and look forward to working with the Victorian State Government. This could take shape in the form of population health studies, a manufacturing site, and pilot sites for further clinical studies.”

Announcing the winners at the JJIPO@Monash, Dr William 'Billy' Cohn of Johnson & Johnson said, “We’ve reviewed a number of very promising technologies through the Victorian QuickFire Challenge, and are pleased to congratulate the three winners, each of whose technology holds potential to transform patient care through medical device innovation. At the Center for Device Innovation, we’re excited to be able to extend our reach to support more medical device research in Victoria and help develop the next wave of life-changing solutions.”

“The Victorian Government is proud to support this great opportunity for our booming medtech and pharmaceuticals sector. This program connects start-ups with the global Johnson & Johnson Innovation network and helps them get their life-improving therapies into the hands of patients.’ said Philip Dalidakis, Victorian minister for innovation and the digital economy.  

The Victorian QuickFire Challenge is the fifth Johnson & Johnson Innovation QuickFire Challenge launched in the Asia Pacific region, following the recent launch of the Shanghai Innovation Lung Cancer QuickFire Challenge in June. Winners of the QuickFire Challenges have access to the JLABS global entrepreneurial community, including the recently announced Asia Pacific innovation community at JLABS@Shanghai.

“We’re extremely proud to be collaborating with the Victorian State Government to nurture the innovation ecosystem right here in Melbourne, at one of the world’s largest life science clusters,” said Rowan Chapman, the head of Johnson & Johnson Innovation in California. “Through the efforts of our winners and with the support of Johnson & Johnson Innovation’s key stakeholders across government, academia and industry, we can help advance breakthrough surgical therapies for patients in Australia and positively impact human health here and around the world.”