Student innovation bootcamp lays out the foundations of entrepreneurship

Six teams of graduate researchers from across the faculty recently participated in a two-day health innovation and enterprise bootcamp, as part of a new initiative led by the MDHS Innovation and Enterprise Directorate.

Participants of the bootcamp stand together.

The bootcamp culminated in a pitch event where teams presented solutions to three clinical challenges.

The bootcamp offered an immersive introduction to health innovation, commercialisation and entrepreneurship, with participants hearing from industry leaders, start-up founders, and research clinicians on the steps involved in creating innovative solutions to address current and future healthcare challenges.

The bootcamp culminated in a pitch event where teams pitched solutions to three clinical challenges posed by the University’s research and industry leaders, including asthma management, detecting absence seizures, and oral diagnostics and therapeutics.

The winning team included PhD candidates Jacq Prestedge from the Department of Infectious Diseases at the Doherty Institute, Mariam Hachem from the Department of Medicine at Austin Health, and Hao Yang Lim from the Department of Biochemistry and Pharmacology.

“Participating in the bootcamp gave me confidence that my ideas could make an impact through commercialisation, and also made me aware of the supports available at the University to facilitate this,” said Mariam Hachem.

“I enjoyed discussing with peers what the future of healthcare might look like given we’ve just lived through the disruptive COVID-19 pandemic, and the opportunities to reimagine healthcare through embracing new technologies with the aim of making healthcare more accessible to all,” said Jacq Prestedge.

“My main takeaway from this experience is knowing the balance between perseverance while also pivoting when the need arises – true for both the PhD and entrepreneurship journey.”

The team were awarded first place for their proposal to develop a detection device to help diagnose people who suffer from absence seizures, a condition that involves brief, sudden loss of consciousness.

Their proposed wearable device, similar to headphones, uses electroencephalography waves to detect the onset of seizures, and can be worn in various settings including at the home or in the classroom. When seizures are detected, data is sent to clinicians and an alert is sent to a caregiver to provide support.

“The best ideas are sometimes also the simplest ones. Complexity kills and having a clear, unique selling proposition is key,” Hao Yang Lim says.