How to Split the Pie

coinsBring industry expertise to academia – this was the message I brought to Ian Frazer when he was in Melbourne recently with other members of the Australian Medical Research Advisory Board for a public consultation on the MRFF.

I recommended a portion of the Fund would be well spent on initiatives to embed colleagues with experience and a successful track record gained in industry into research. This suggestion was made rather than, or at least in addition to, the reverse – a call for increasing numbers of researchers to spend time in industry learning the ropes of commercialisation, which while admirable may take some considerable time to yield the results we hope for. The proposal was not surprising given my own experience and that of several BioMedVic Directors who can all attest to the two-way impact of building bridges between industry and academia, something BioMedVic has encouraged for some time.

Two BioMedVic members provide great examples of this type of cross-pollination and learning. The partnership started in 2013 between the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute (MCRI) and software development company Curve Tomorrow, aims to develop innovative software solutions for issues relating to child health. More recently we’ve seen the formation of the HealthTech Accelerator by Melbourne Health and STARTUP61/Laneway Labs who have partnered to enable healthcare technology entrepreneurs to turn their startups into breakthroughs to transform health. These are both fantastic examples of the bidirectional benefit that can flow from having industry working with – and within – research organisations.

Last but not least, congratulations to the five – yes five – winners of 2016 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes from Melbourne. Not bad out of 16 categories! In particular, hats off to the teams from our members who were winners: Melissa Little and Minoru Takasato’s Scientific Research prize for their MCRI team’s work to grow kidney tissue from stem cells; Leann Tilley and her team from The University of Melbourne’s award of the Infectious Disease prize for research into the malaria parasite; and Sharath Sriram from RMIT whose career was recognised for the Emerging Leader in Science prize.

With talent like these, and more besides, Victoria is well placed to hold off any push from the warmer states for our well-deserved medical research crown. And there’s never been a better time for Members to inform and get behind BioMedVic’s advocacy to the Victorian Government for its long-term science and innovation plan. Supported by continuous investment and focused on areas in which Victoria is or has the potential to be a world leader, this plan will see the clinical and economic benefits of innovation flow.

Jan Tennent