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WA Government invests in virus testing tech

The Innovation and ICT Minister recently announced that the Government would invest $150,000 from the New Industries Fund towards the immediate establishment of a manufacturing facility for a local start-up’s rapid virus testing machine.

The Western Australian start-up is behind the innovative testing technology which uses saliva samples and has the potential to deliver a rapid alternative to the current COVID screening system. Initially designed to test for COVID-19, the testing technology also supports a range of other detection test kits for pathogens such as dengue fever, tuberculosis and malaria.

The local start-up received $500,000 in innovation funding from the McGowan Government through the Department of Health in October to pilot the technology. The new technology supports rapid, low-cost and large-scale viral screening, which combines a range of existing technologies with locally developed custom hardware and system control software.

The platform is designed to provide portable, scalable screening, with rapid throughput that would enable the processing of up to 5,000 samples per hour.

The system has the potential to provide population-scale background screening in virus outbreak zones and rapid, high-throughput testing for major sporting events and high traffic zones such as airport terminals.

The start-up has recently sold two machines in Hungary and is in the process of a sale to the Basque Government in Spain, and has had interest from several other countries including the UK and India.

The Innovation and ICT Minister stated that the Government is committed to backing local innovation that has the potential to improve the health, wellbeing and prosperity of the WA community. Western Australian technology has the potential to change the approach to managing a broad range of viruses including COVID-19, and it is vital that its manufacture in the State is secured to create local jobs.

The start-up’s technology has the potential to screen large groups of people quickly, and play a key role in monitoring and management of COVID-19 and other viruses going forward.

The Health Minister stated that Western Australia’s robust COVID-19 testing regime has been a significant factor in the State having no community transmission for more than nine months. Regardless of the imminent rollout of a vaccine, testing will remain a vital part of controlling COVID-19 and keeping Western Australians safe – so we are always looking at new ideas and innovations to help us deal with COVID-19. The ability to screen large groups of people very quickly and accurately could be an important part of that future.

The WA government investing in medical tech

OpenGov Asia recently reported that the Innovation and ICT Minister of Western Australia that the Government will invest $150,000 in funding from the New Industries Fund into a WA-based medical device start-up, aimed at also enhancing capability and creating local jobs at their Nedlands-based R&D facility.

The funding which will further support the company’s ability to run clinical studies in Western Australia, and provide early access to the clinical benefits of its cutting-edge technology to Western Australian patients.

The Innovation and ICT Minister stated that the Government is committed to supporting the development and manufacture of cutting-edge medical technology, like that being developed by the company, in WA. Any technology that reduces the need for repeat surgeries is a significant health and cost benefits to the patient and alleviates demand on our hospitals.

“The fact that we have this sort of technology being invented by WA researchers and universities is a testament to the levels of expertise and innovation in our State,” he concluded.

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