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VeinTech Receive Funding Boost to Improve Vascular Access

Medical device startup, VeinTech, have received a $20,000 funding boost in the form of a State Government Innovation Voucher. The funding will support the startup in developing their device to improve cannulation; the process of gaining access to a vein with a needle.

The VeinTech team, made up of vascular engineer Nik Bappoo, physiotherapist and PhD student Nicholas Buckley and emergency physician Katherine Arenson, first began working on the device during their time in the 2019 Perth Biodesign for Medtech course, eventually taking out the top prize in the final pitch night last November.

The team have gone from strength to strength since completing the course, successfully applying for micro-seed funding through the Perth Biodesign NEXT program alongside 2 other continuing teams, partnering with a technical development company and being accepted into two upcoming accelerator programs.

We chat with the team below to find out more about their journey since finished the Perth Biodesign Medtech course.

Nick Buckley -Nik Bappoo - Dr. Katherine

Photo: Gabriel Oliveira. Source: Business News

Congratulations on the Innovation Voucher! First of all, can you tell me about VeinTech itself and the device you are working on?

Thanks very much! VeinTech is a medtech start up working to improve the first pass success of cannulation. Cannulation is the most common invasive procedure done in hospitals, and involves using a needle to guide a small plastic tube into a vein to deliver fluids or medications. Unfortunately, there is a high failure rate (>40%), mostly due to the person performing the procedure not being able to easily see the vein they’re aiming at, and missing. Our device, the VeinWave, will allow easy identification and targeting of veins, making cannulation quicker, easier and less painful for everyone involved.


How did you identify the need of improving cannulation and how did you decide that this was the need your team wanted to work on?

Katherine (one of our co-founders) is an emergency physician, and for years has been frustrated by difficult cannulations and the lack of assistive options. We further validated this need through clinical immersions and interviews at South Metro Health Services, and started figuring out a solution. We were attracted to this need also by its simplicity – there is no shortage of complicated, multi-headed medical problems, but we can boil ours down to needing to getting needles into veins and missing less. Simple is better!

What will the Innovation Voucher go towards?

The Innovation Voucher funding is going directly to our local technical partners, Probelogic. They’re a Perth-based company who is assisting us with developing a Proof of Concept (PoC) device, which we’re going to use to do bench testing and to further reinforce our core technology. We’re very excited to be putting all our ideas into a device that is driven by user needs and will actually do the job!

What progress have you made since finishing the Perth Biodesign course in late 2019? 

Since finishing Biodesign, we have officially incorporated as a company, as well as formally engaged Probelogic as our technical partners. We’ve also been successful in attracting some early stage funding and commercialisation support from the Perth ecosystem, and are in the process of putting together a local advisory board. We’re continuing to validate our need through the CSIRO ON Prime. Last but not least, we’ve been doing lots of planning to chart the course of where we want VeinTech to head in the next few years.


What impact did completing the Perth Biodesign program have on the project?

As we’ve gone through the early stages of taking flight as a company, we’ve been reminded just how much we learned and what good habits we’ve formed as part of the Biodesign program. You can do a lot of work and not get very far in the early stages of a start-up. Perth Biodesign acted as a great focal point for us, both making us more efficient by teaching us what was important and what wasn’t, and also by making us aware of aspects we had no idea existed that we really needed to pay attention to from the word go (disclosure of things you’d like to put in a patent is a great example!).

What lessons have you learned as first-time startup founders taking on this journey?

One of the first things you learn in Biodesign is to focus mostly on understanding the problem you are aiming to solve, and the solution often will flow from that understanding. Bringing everything back to who you’re helping and how has been a really great grounding force for us and kept us on track, focussed on solving real problems for real people.

Do you have any advice for others looking to do the same?

Know your “why”. Don’t be put off by a lack of experience – you learn a lot in a short space of time! Only work with good people that you trust, and don’t be afraid of asking for help. Be humble and never stop learning.

Applications for the 2020 Perth Biodesign for Medtech course are now open here.

Photo: Cubbage Photography

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