Australia bets on medical device R&D with new fund

The Australian government hasn't been shy about funding medical device development in years past, and the state of New South Wales is upping the ante, establishing the country's first device R&D fund.

The state government is putting 8 million Australian dollars ($8.4 million) up for grabs in 2013, the first year of the Medical Devices Fund, and pledging to contribute about AU$5 million each year after that, Invest in Australia reports. The program is designed to support the research, development and commercialization of devices and diagnostics in the state, and state Minister for Medical Research Jillian Skinner said it will bolster Australia's growing industry.

"I've been blessed to have been with families when their child's cochlear implants were turned on for the first time," Skinner told Invest in Australia. "It's these kinds of life-changing innovations that we want to see created, developed and supported through the Medical Devices Fund."

The Australian government has bet big on medical device innovation, committing AU$50 million over four years to companies and academic consortia developing bionic prosthetics. Some of that spending has already paid off, as Bionic Vision Australia has implanted a prototype bionic eye and reported promising results, and the Monash Vision Group is preparing for human trials for a similar device. The country is also home to Cochlear ($COH), the world's largest maker of hearing aids.

New South Wales' Medical Devices Fund is accepting preliminary applications through Oct. 10.

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