An AI-powered system enabling improved treatment of macular degeneration, one of the biggest causes of preventable blindness, and an AI-supported wearable device seeking to prevent post-partum haemorrhage, a leading cause of maternal deaths, are among four digital health technologies set to receive non-dilutive funding through the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).

$3.25M from the Australian Government’s MRFF will be invested into four high-growth potential digital health companies, including AI-powered technologies from Macuject and Baymatob, through the digital health commercialisation program, ANDHealth+.

The other two companies to receive non-dilutive funding are Neurotologix, focused on pioneering remote assessments of dizziness and vertigo with a portable and user-friendly device called ROMI, and WeGuide, a no-code health platform that allows health providers, clinical trial sponsors and medical research institutes to create bespoke digital health applications securely.

The funding will support the four companies to hit clinical and commercial milestones and gain regulatory and compliance approvals in Australia, the US and Europe, as they seek to export Australian digital health products to global markets.

ANDHealth CEO and Managing Director Bronwyn Le Grice said, “This investment will propel Australia’s best digital health innovations to secure the further clinical evidence and customers they need to expand both domestically and into global markets.

“The fact that this funding allocation is being assigned to AI and machine-learning focused companies supports the potential AI has to offer within healthcare, in augmenting technologies and processes to help health clinicians, providers and patients alike. Currently, 19% of Australian digital health companies list AI and machine learning as their primary technology.”

Baymatob's AI-powered wearable ‘Oli’, which monitors vital physiological signs analysed by AI to identify mothers at high risk of having birth complications, was recently granted FDA breakthrough device designation in recognition of its potential to significantly increase the current standard of maternal care. Baymatob will use the funding to finance projects to address deployment challenges and develop a business and payment model for US hospital systems.

Meanwhile, Macuject, which uses machine learning artificial intelligence to analyse macular scans for early detection of preventable vision loss, will use the funding to undertake regulatory activities for FDA pre-submission in the US and implement two in-market pilots with optometrists and ophthalmologists in the US. These activities will enable Macuject to validate and demonstrate its ability to identify patients with macular degeneration earlier and support specialists to look after and manage them more effectively.

Neurotologix, a start-up seeking to pioneer remote assessments of dizziness and vertigo with a portable and user-friendly device called ROMI, is the third company receiving funding. Neurotologix will use the funding allocated to conduct regulatory and compliance activities for a TGA submission, implement pilots in Australia, and gather evidence to support future market entry.

The final company receiving funding, WeGuide, has developed a global platform that allows healthcare providers, clinical trial sponsors and medical research institutes to create bespoke digital health applications securely and 12 times faster and 10 times cheaper than comparable software. WeGuide will use the funds to find new customers and develop features that unlock their ability to purchase.

“Baymatob, Macuject, Neurotologix, and WeGuide are perfect examples of how Australian digital health businesses are using new technologies to solve real health problems. And we know that when sufficiently supported through investment and clear reimbursement pathways, Australian-made technologies can generate economic benefits by achieving healthcare efficiencies and growing our export portfolio,” said Ms Le Grice.

The funding to be distributed over the next 12 months builds on the extensive support ANDHealth has provided to 835 Australian digital health start-ups since 2017. The 19 companies which have participated in ANDHealth+ have raised $149.8M in dilutive and non-dilutive financing, impacted 671,560 patients, delivered 920 commercial pilots, commenced 69 clinical studies or trials, and undertaken 30 international market launches.

Funded by the MRFF, the ANDHealth+ program is delivered by ANDHealth, Australia’s only dedicated digital health commercialisation organisation providing homegrown digital health start-ups access to non-dilutive investment, alongside substantial industry mentoring and support, across a two-stage investment process.

“The funding provided through ANDHealth+ and the ANDHealth Digital Health Accelerator Fund is one of the largest non-equity taking investment programs available to Australian digital health SMEs,” said Ms Le Grice.

“Due to the limited funding pools for digital health companies in Australia, ANDHealth+ is a highly competitive program that selects world-class, evidence-based technologies, as assessed by an expert industry panel and international investment committee.”

“The selection process is designed to identify the teams and technology with the greatest chance of commercial growth and positive impact for patients in Australia and around the world,” Ms Le Grice said.