The value of a UWA degree

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In Perth, our medical technology ecosystem is full of truly innovative people that want to make a difference to patient care. There’s no shortage of real problems within healthcare to solve, nor potential ideas about how to solve them. But how do you know if a problem you have seen is really an unmet clinical need? Or whether it’s the best problem for you, with your unique strengths, weaknesses and motivations, to try and solve? And how do you know a potential invention is the best solution for that problem? These are basic questions that innovators must ask themselves before they embark on a long journey into the “start-up” world, but many fail to do so.

Too often we see innovators create a product only to realise when it doesn’t gain traction in the market that they didn’t fully understand the whole problem. This is so easy to do in the medical technology sector, where there is a complex web of different stakeholders involved in the delivery of care, rigorous regulatory requirements, complex systems of reimbursement and the need for a well-validated business model to take the product to market successfully.

As biomedical engineers, start-up founders and innovation educators, we have experienced first-hand the impact of applying the Biodesign process to maximise the likelihood that we can create innovative products to impact patients. The Biodesign process for needs-based innovation is a prescriptive method of identifying and selecting unmet clinical needs, inventing and evaluating solutions that address these needs and creating implementation strategies that fit within the complex healthcare landscape.

At Perth Biodesign we believe that the process of innovation in medical technology can be taught and learned by innovators, so they can focus their efforts on problems that are worth solving, asking the right questions and inventing technologies that actually solve those problems. Some of our alumni have gone on to create med-tech start-ups right here in Perth and are developing products to solve well-validated clinical problems. We are now working with UWA to design and deliver a new Biodesign Medical Technology Innovation micro-credential to expand our offering and reach even more passionate innovators. This intensive online short-course, based on the Biodesign Methodology for innovating medical technologies, teaches students how to characterise unmet clinical needs and work towards inventing a medical technology solution, whilst learning about the medical device development process and ultimately, how to make a real difference in the world.

About the authors

Intan Oldakowska BCom, BE '10

Intan Oldakowska is a biomedical engineer and entrepreneur focused on developing medical devices. A graduate of UWA in Mechanical Engineering and Commerce, she is the co-founder/CEO of Cervical ChinUp and co-founder/CSO of REX Ortho. A SPARK Co-Lab Design Course 2016 alumnus, Intan recently returned from Stanford University, where she helped at the Otoinnovation Lab and observed the Stanford Biodesign Innovation classes. Intan is now Co-Director of both Perth Biodesign and Biodesign Australia and a lecturer at UWA, delivering the Biodesign Medical Technology Innovation course.

Dr Matt Oldakowski BE '09

Dr Matt Oldakowski is a biomedical engineering researcher, inventor and entrepreneur. Matt is the co-founder and CTO of two medtech companies, Co-Director of Perth Biodesign, where he educates and incubates multidisciplinary medtech innovation teams, and Co-Director of Biodesign Australia, enabling Biodesign programs from around Australia to share resources and best practice. He was previously a Global Faculty Training Fellow at Stanford Biodesign and an Endeavour Executive Fellow. Matt now lectures at UWA, delivering the Biodesign Medical Technology Innovation course.