The Tech Revolution in Regional Australia, and Opportunities for Future Growth

Here’s an article I wrote in March 2017 for StartupsInnovation.com. You will notice this was pre-2018 Australian leadership spill! I have a real love for Queensland, and regional Australia’s potential to be world leaders in innovation and creativity. This article has heaps of resources and events to be aware of if you’re keen to get started with your big idea in Queensland, whether in the big city or further out. Share your thoughts below.

There's a tech revolution Down Under- and we have ideas on where the next opportunities will be.

As a frequent city-hopper throughout Australia, we've noticed that the tech revolution isn't solely limited to our most famous capital cities. 

 Brisbane skyline at night. Louise Teo

Brisbane skyline at night. Louise Teo

The rural towns dotting the 2300km expanse of the Great Barrier Reef have long been subject to “boom or bust” economic conditions in Australia. With the recent Australian mining sector downturn affecting once-bustling cities throughout Central and Northern Queensland, the time is ripe for entrepreneurialism to take place.

The Australian Federal Government's Innovation Agenda has helped foster an environment for numerous innovation events. One such event coming up is Myriad, the global entrepreneurs’ conference to be held in Brisbane, Queensland’s capital, at the end of March. Bringing speakers from TechCrunch, Estonia, Western Europe and rural Queensland to the city, the event promises to help connect and inspire attendees as Australia’s answer to SXSW. 

Myriad’s timing coincides with the World Science Festival, which will host Hack The Reef, the world’s first hackathon dedicated to the Great Barrier Reef. Held in Townsville, one of Northern Queensland’s largest Reef gateposts, Hack the Reef will bring participants together to brainstorm solutions for the Reef’s rapid bleaching crisis, with global warming sending water temperatures 1-2 degrees Celsius higher than usual and irreversibly bleaching the beautiful coral. Hack the Reef will send winners to Myriad, and help boost tech and entrepreneurial skills in a region not known for its Opera House or laneway coffee spots. 

 Great Barrier Reef from above! Louise Teo

Great Barrier Reef from above! Louise Teo

Maker spaces and coworking centres have also opened up in Mackay, Cairns and Townsville. Startup Mackay is a hub for the sugar cane city and former mining hub now focusing on tourism. The Assisted Devices Hackathon will be held in Mackay, Toowoomba and Townsville later this year, with support from Advanced Manufacturing Queensland helping to re-energise Queensland manufacturing and engineering. theSPACE Cairns and Canvas Coworking in Toowoomba also host startup events and coworking space for locals and visitors. 

Additionally, Australia’s largest corporate startup accelerator Slingshot has announced a presence in Cairns this year. It will dedicate funding and resources to projects focusing on travel, hospitality and entertainment in this city of 160,000 people which hosts international guests such as Elton John. Slingshot is known for running one of Australia’s largest health-tech accelerators, and currently has Australia’s first Human Resources Tech accelerator open for applications to be the next Freelancer or similar. 

Finally, small business groups in these towns continue to host events for local startups and small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) alike. Small Biz Big Future has been held in Cairns for several years’ running, bringing together web developers, agricultural, marketing and legal experts in the region to deliver Top 3 Business Tips for attendees. 

Advance Queensland also completed a regional tour featuring 6 of Queensland's most successful entrepreneurs, including Shark Tank Australia's Steve Baxter and We Are Hunted's Stephen Phillips, visiting ten rural cities to share their experiences with locals. 

How else can regional towns pivot from existing business models and upskill in entrepreneurship? Currently, the options for rural business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs are to attend local events or education providers; otherwise, if they can afford it, to relocate to one of the capital cities. In our opinion, education shouldn't be limited to local TAFE centres and universities, which are often costly and not suitable for time-poor owner-operators. It's also worthwhile remembering that many small business owners are successful despite not completing school, or not having a strong tech culture within an Indigenous Australian community. Private tech skill educators such as General Assembly and Academy Xi are based in major capitals such as Melbourne and Sydney (with GA opening in Brisbane). These cities are doing their bit for entrepreneurship, but are becoming saturated with choice of events. Surely such schools could also aim to broaden their reach to rural areas by offering free or paid video access to classes and talks. 

In times of crisis, there is a long-held resilience demonstrated by local farmers, retailers, and other small business owners, with communities devoted to buying local. Much can be learnt from business owners who have dealt with cyclones, droughts, banana plantation destruction and international trade adjustments. Perhaps a platform needs to be developed for giving these stalwart regional business owners a chance to share their lessons virtually with young and tech-savvy entrepreneurs across Australian cities. This could help introduce a new revenue stream to such business owners, in a valuable collaborative effort of Ideas Exchange. 

Australia's current Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, a former tech entrepreneur himself, has tried to shine a light upon regional innovation. Taking in rural Queensland towns such as Bundaberg and Rockhampton last year, Prime Minister Turnbull was impressed with technologies such as drones used by farmers for crop surveillance and pest control. As mentioned during his visit, it's important to remember that entrepreneurs are not just city-based friends in T-shirts coding in a garage for fun. The real need for tech and entrepreneurial skills comes from those who are geographically isolated and time- and resource-poor. 

Ongoing support for local businesses and education providers, whether rural or metropolitan, will continue to drive the future of Australian innovation. We'd be glad to hear your thoughts on this article and other ideas you may have.  

Don't Be Afraid

Don’t be afraid to say no to a deal that isn’t fair.

Don’t be afraid to walk away from teammates who don’t support you, despite false words and appearances.

Don’t be afraid to walk away from those who discredit you and your hard work.

Don’t be afraid to call out what’s wrong.

Don’t be afraid to believe in you.

Don’t be afraid to persist.

Don’t be afraid to wait to figure out your next move.

Don’t be afraid to walk away from that which doesn’t nourish you.

Don’t be afraid of time.

Don’t be afraid of change.

Don’t be afraid of success.

Don’t be afraid of happiness.

Don’t be afraid of your dreams.

Don’t be afraid to put your health first.

Don’t be afraid to put your loved ones first.

Don’t be afraid to say what’s tough.

Don’t be afraid to have values.

Don’t be afraid to care.

I hope this helps you.

The Australian Startup Aiming For Zero Waste In Healthcare

Globally, there’s been increasing awareness - and action- regarding sustainability and climate change.

Healthcare is no different.

Have you ever wondered what happens to the tonnes of unused, sanitised medical supplies found in well-stocked hospitals and clinics in the developed world?

The pristine cannulas and IV drips. The instruments in the operating room. Even the surgical gloves.

Melbourne anaesthetist Dr Martin Nguyen studied this with Hospital Sustainability expert Dr Forbes McGain and their team, and was perturbed by the findings that, in one week in Melbourne, 23% of waste generated from six operating rooms was recyclable. Was it feasible to recycle this waste? The study showed that, yes, it was, both financially and with infection control integrity.

This brought Martin back to his journeys on medical missions trips, where, he says, “in isolated pockets of Vietnam, I noted these communities were in desperate need for medical supplies, but did not have connections or the resources to reach out.” Furthermore, “we discovered (through our research) that there were unused items thrown out into landfill. This practice upset many staff who were avid reducers and recyclers at home, but had to be wasteful at work. They were keen to collect and donate these supplies, but did not know where to send it to.

“This is where the inspiration for Medical Pantry came from. The Medical Pantry sits in the middle to match the needs of undeserved communities with the generosity of the givers.”

Since inception, Medical Pantry has successfully donated high quality, unused clinical goods to communities worldwide, including in Tonga and Papua New Guinea. Led by Martin and a team of eager volunteers, goods are readily donated from hospitals and clinics, and are given to recipients usually via clinicians on missions trips and other aid ventures. Goods can also be used locally; wildlife sanctuaries have benefited, along with local businesses in Victoria’s Western Health district; local clinics may run short, and mechanics find the unused, sterile kidney dishes useful! However, Martin envisages a future where tech enables donors to match recipients’ needs directly online, saving further costs, time and resources that can then be put to use expanding the reach of their work.

 A hospital in Papua New Guinea using donated goods from the Medical Pantry.

A hospital in Papua New Guinea using donated goods from the Medical Pantry.

“Our ultimate goal is for the Medical Pantry to not exist at all - for there to be no waste from the healthcare system,” says Martin. “But, while there is waste, the Medical Pantry will find a second life for medical supplies and stop it heading to landfill. I hope in future, this will be a national program with collection/distribution centres in each major city in Australia. I believe the data collected will raise awareness and feedback to those in healthcare to help achieve zero healthcare waste.”

Currently, Medical Pantry is in the running for up to $100,000 in local government grants to help with more permanent warehousing, distribution and storage. (People with Victorian addresses can vote for Medical Pantry to receive funds in this grant, until 5pm, Monday 17 September.) However, to fulfil its dream of recycling goods in other cities and expanding its reach, it will need more funding and support beyond this grant. It’s amazing what impact local work can have on global health.

To reach out to Medical Pantry regarding funding or other support, please visit medicalpantry.org or facebook.com/medicalpantry.

All images in this article courtesy of Medical Pantry.

Best Reads This Week, September Edition

We’ve been quiet for awhile! Hello again :)

It’s great to be back!

We’ve got a lot happening at The Medical Startup- thankyou for bearing with our site facelift as it happens.

For now, entertain yourselves with a roundup of some great articles we’ve enjoyed from around the Web this week.

  • Beth Comstock’s a CEO- and an introvert. Tips and strategies at Girlboss.com.

  • Clinical trials are underway for novel early-stage cancer screening through a simple blood test. (The article’s from January but still relevant!)

  • Our friends at Lysn have been listed as one of the top 5 Mental Health social enterprises in tech to watch, along with other inspiring startups. Check out the full list at Social Change Central.

What are some articles and resources you’ve enjoyed recently? Share your finds below!

Lessons from Business, Medicine and Life

First published December 4, 2017

This blog started as a way to empower doctors and others involved in healthcare to take charge of their lives and recognise their skills as being transferable to other industries-

Including business and entrepreneurship.

Most of my time the past few years has been spent reading and following business leaders to learn how they tick, and it’s amazing how relevant their lessons are for managing your lives on the wards, in clinics, at your medtech startup, and even in your personal life.

Business is an uncertain world; yet it’s powerful to remember that, generally, lives are not at stake in this situation- at least not with the immediacy that’s faced in the chemotherapy unit, for example.

Remember to arm yourself with your number one tool: PERSPECTIVE: and take time to figure out what values you hold dearest; what frustrates you most; what strengths and weaknesses you think you have; and how you can serve the world best through your strengths and individuality.

This is an intro to an ongoing series on productivityand insights from my readings on how to take charge in your life.

Feel free to let me know how you go; we’d love to hear your success stories if you’ve been inspired by one of these people, or of course, by something you’ve read on The Medical Startup 

Cheers and good luck!!

#themedicalstartuptips

Job Opportunity: Next Practice Health Looking for GPs

First published November 20, 2017

If you’re a GP in Australia wanting to work with a patient-focused practice with novel tech solutions, read on… (Note: wording in this ad provided by the advertiser. Please see our T&Cs for more information.)

 

 

Next Practice is here. And we are changing the face of healthcare.

Confronted at once by significant strain and profound opportunity, healthcare must transform for the future.

We are artfully creating a new kind of General Practice by reducing the limitations of time, resources and inefficiency to ensure not just “Best Practice” care but “Next Practice” care.
Our goal is nothing less than the best General Practice experience on Planet Earth, and we are looking for like-minded GP partners to join our movement.

 

Our Offering

Whether you are opening a new practice or transforming an existing one, becoming a Next Practice Partner allows you to retain the joy of running a small business with the reassurance of a larger company behind you. Our aim simply is to give you more time to deliver quality, patient-centred care and increase your return.

An Inviting Environment

Next Practice have re-defined the experience of a “visit to the GP”. Our unique design welcomes patients, inviting them to engage in their health, whilst ensuring a functional clinic space that is a delight to work in. Freed by technology of administrative tasks, practice staff are able to engage in deeper collaboration with patients, family and other treating clinicians.


Practice Management Support

As a partner of Next Practice, you have access to the considerable expertise of our larger business.
This includes planning, building and property maintenance, accreditation, accounting, HR, Marketing, Compliance and IT. As part of a larger network, you also have access to shared resourcing for administrative tasks and enhanced purchasing power with suppliers.


Your Wellbeing

We well understand the stress of General Practice and are determined about supporting your wellbeing. We have developed an innovative program of personal and professional development designed to improve job satisfaction and work-life balance. As part of a network of inspirational GPs, you will have the knowledge that you are part of a movement bigger than yourself.

 

Curious?

Do you want to leave your fingerprint on a new kind of care?
Check out our interactive website at www.nextpracticehealth.com
Then contact Terry today by email at terry@nextpracticehealth.com or call 0498 488 059.

All images and job listing courtesy of Next Practice Health.

This job listing is sponsored. If you’re interested in advertising your job opportunity or other events on The Medical Startup, please contact us for rates and more details. 

World First: 3D-Printed Tibia Successfully Inserted Into Man’s Leg During Surgery

First published September 10, 2017

A team of Australian surgeons have successfully implanted a 3D-printed tibia into a 27-year-old man’s leg.

 

 

Photo courtesy of The Age.

 

The Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane, Australia, collaborated with the Queensland University of Technology with the design of the original polymer and “scaffold,” and with the printing technology in Singapore.*

The young father had suffered a life-threatening osteomyelitis, and faced above-knee amputation as the alternative.

It’s going to be fascinating following the journey of this man’s recovery, and hearing more and more stories of others successfully receiving 3D-printed bone and tissue. Both metropolitan and regional locations will soon be able to have these resources on hand (a 3D-printed tibia is pictured from Mackay Base Hospital’s 3D-printer here).

For more information, head to The Age and the ABC News.

*We’d love to credit the site in Singapore where the printing for this surgery took place!

Melbourne Social Enterprise Pioneers Model: Giving Through Medical Education

First published July 26, 2017

There are many ways to give through your business or startup.

Who knew that by educating yourself for your fellowship exams, you are also helping by giving to those less fortunate? 

PhysEd gives you this sense of purpose.

                

Two Melbourne medical doctors decided to give through their medical education company, PhysEd, a two-week intensive preparation course for doctors preparing for the Royal Australasian College of Physicians’ Basic Physician Training Written Exam.

         

Inspired by ethicist Peter Singer’s book and organisation, The Life You Can Save, PhysEd gives 5% of revenue to charity, donating over five figures in its first year. The specialty exams are a gruelling time in any doctor’s life, and attending a course has statistically shown to improve your chance of passing. Having gone through the exams themselves, the founders know the high standards expected of course speakers and exam candidates. With this in mind, PhysEd incorporates a practical, immersive approach to multiple-choice question preparation, including a weekend MCQ intensive midway through the course, and high-quality, experienced presenters from many of Melbourne’s top teaching hospitals.

Let’s face it- going through the exams is a very competitive, self-focused time, spanning over two years of doctors’ lives, which can take away from the meaning of medicine- to give to others who need your knowledge. Medicine is about giving, yet, the competitive environment of training and striving to be your best on that one exam day can sap away one’s energy and original sense of purpose for medicine. PhysEd’s giving model helps you feel that you’re not alone- your studying is not in vain, just for your own score and knowledge – it’s helping others, including companies such as Medicins Sans Frontieres and Against Malaria.

To find out more and register, including a free, fully-equipped doctors’ briefcase for the Part 2 exams with full registration(!), head to physed.com.au

For an inspiring book from a pioneering social entrepreneur, read our review of TOMS shoes founder Blake Mycoskie’s book here

Photo credits: physed.com.au

Book Review: “Start Something That Matters” by Blake Mycoskie, TOMS Founder

First published July 20, 2017

This book is a must-read.

 

Pic: themedicalstartup.com

Most of you would have heard of TOMS. Many of you perhaps own a pair or two. There’s a fascinating story behind it.

 

Blake Mycoskie is known for pioneering the One-for-One retail model, where a company gives something for every item that’s sold. In TOMS’ case, that’s a pair of shoes to a community in need for every pair of TOMS sold around the world.

Blake was inspired after taking a brief sabbatical from his former startup (and after “The Amazing Race” in America). As many startup founders (and healthcare workers!) discover, it’s hard to switch off. Early into his trip to Argentina, he was struck by the number of children walking barefoot on the hot roads, because their families couldn’t afford to purchase shoes. Blake goes into detail about his early days finding a local shoemaker in Argentina; working out the supply chain without having fashion experience; hiring his first interns; and how they spread the word about TOMS. Since then, TOMS has grown into a multimillion-dollar company, and Blake has created a venture fund for social entrepreneurs to help others create good from their companies.

Other companies such as Warby Parker for eyeglasses have found success with a for-profit model of giving. Many people believe that non-profits are more subject to instability, being reliant upon donations and philanthropy. It could be argued that social enterprise is a more sustainable business model long-term, where a social enterprise is defined as a for-profit business that serves to do good as its core mission.

With “Start Something That Matters,” Blake shares his thoughts from TOMS’ journey, and gives actionable tips on how you can do the same. A very inspiring and uplifting read, including case studies from other companies.

What other books have inspired you? Share your best recommendations below. 

New Zealand Clinicians’ Challenge Open For Entries

First published June 13, 2017

 

If you’re a clinician in New Zealand with a great idea, the Clinicians’ Challenge may be right for you.

 

Attendees mingling at HiNZ 2016. Pic: The Medical Startup

The Clinicians’ Challenge aims to help healthcare workers from all disciplines improve the lives of patients through innovative projects. There are two categories: New Idea, or Active Project/Development. Prizewinners will share in $20,000NZD worth of funding, supported by HiNZ and the Ministry of Health, New Zealand.

Last year’s winners who presented at HiNZ include:

  • anaesthetics registrar Mark Fletcher’s New Idea award for collecting the most relevant big data efficiently across elective surgery lists;
  • pharmacist Amber Young for her New Ideas award-winning medication information project, integrating both tech and paper to tailor medication summaries for patients in an efficient and visually optimised format
  • Yvonne McFarlane, a resident at Dunedin Hospital who developed an idea for a simple one-page handover list that can be integrated into existing EMRs; and
  • public health physician Nick Eichler and his Auckland Public Health Service colleagues, with their TeleDOT electronic medication monitoring system for tuberculosis patients. By improving education and adherence, TeleDOT also aims to reduce the transport burden for patients and healthcare workers across the country while undergoing lengthy treatment.

Entries for the Clinicians Challenge close Friday 16 June- visit here to enter.

Other opportunities for the annual HiNZ and NZ Nursing Informatics Conferences are also open til Friday 16 June, including speaker and paper/abstract submissions. More details at hinz.org.nz.

Read our recaps of last year’s events at Day 12 and 3.