Bowel alert device wins medical innovation pitch award

Headshot of Sean Smith
Sean SmithThe West Australian
NIMo: Marthe Smith, Alex Wu, Robert Pass and Amy Finlay-Jones.
Camera IconNIMo: Marthe Smith, Alex Wu, Robert Pass and Amy Finlay-Jones. Credit: supplied

Personal insight played a big part in the winning start-up in this year’s Spark Co-Lab medical innovation program.

NIMo beat five other team-based start-ups to take out Spark Co-Lab’s WA design course pitch night on Monday with a wearable device that aims to provide relief to sufferers of inflammatory bowel disease.

One of those sufferers is NIMo’s Amy Finlay-Jones, who was able to share her personal perspective of patient needs when the team switched focus to IBD part-way through the six-month Spark Co-Lab program.

“By that time, I knew my team well enough that they could talk to me about it, what it was like, and come up with a solution for some of the needs,” Dr Finlay-Jones said.

Set up in WA last year, the Stanford University backed-program combines teams from medical, science, engineering and business backgrounds in the pursuit of new medical devices to address unmet clinical needs.

It seeks to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship in the med-tech sector with the aim of commercialising more of Australia’s medical discoveries.

Dr Finlay-Jones, a researcher with the Telethon Kids Institute, said Spark Co-Lab was proving “a game changer” by shortening the time between identifying and addressing a medical need.

The NIMo prototype device measures different body bio-markers that together can help predict flare-ups in chronic diseases such as IBD.

“It’s going to be technically relatively easy to pilot because it is non-invasive,” Dr Finlay-Jones said. “But it does rely on us validating these markers and working out the clinical algorithm to go along with them.”

As this year’s winner, the start-up will draw on largely in-kind professional support from the program’s Australian partners, including EY, patent lawyers Wrays and Lavan Legal.

Biocor was runner-up with AbYWin, a diagnostic tool to identify early stage infections after orthopaedic surgery.

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