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Funds to translate science to real life solutions

Dr Jason Turuwhenua, left, and Dr Mohammad Norouzifard have been trialling a new type of vision testing with Māori schoolchildren. Commercialisation of their work is the type of project the MedTech Translator will support. Photo: Supplied.

The Government is investing in Te Tītoki Mataora - the MedTech Research Translator - to deliver new medical tools, and meet both the demands of a global pandemic and of a growing and aging population.

Science and Innovation associate minister of research Ayesha Verrall says Covid-19 has shown that we need to build a more resilient, productive, innovative and economically-sustainable health system.

“Te Tītoki Mataora harnesses New Zealand's bioengineering and healthcare expertise. It is a new programme for translating the findings from publicly-funded research into solutions for unmet clinical needs.

“This will enable improvements in personalised care, diagnostics and therapy, and result in more equitable healthcare outcomes for New Zealanders.

“The programme will fund expertise and activities at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute, which aims to get medical technology research off the bench and into business. It will facilitate the development of collaborative projects across New Zealand universities.”

The Government is investing $8.1 million over three years.

Each project will have a researcher, clinician and commercialisation expert on the team. The programme will accelerate the most promising projects by providing pre-seed funding to researchers.

“This fund will also contribute to New Zealand's economic recovery from Covid-19, by supporting the growth of the medical technology sector,” says Ayesha.

The medical technology sector is the second-largest secondary industry, valued at $1.9 billion in 2019 when health-tech accounted for 11 per cent of our top 200 tech businesses.

“This important investment supports the incredible work our researchers and scientists do every day. People are central to our scientific community, and excellent people lead to excellent research and outcomes.

“Diversity creates the best competition of ideas and provides wider perspectives that reflect the needs of our diverse society.

“We want to ensure that Te Tītoki Mataora lives up to its name with strong Māori and Pasifika partnerships underpinning new research - focusing on co-created technologies that rebalance health inequities,” says Ayesha.

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