Edition #14

MiniFAB Newsletter, May 2015

CEO Report

There is a palpable sense of expectation in our local medtech community that seems to be fueled by pent-up entrepreneurs itching to push ahead with their business innovations. They may not be winning innovations yet, but there is a positive drive to get out there and have a go, tune the pitch, refine the technology and try to get some sales. 

Melbourne is not alone in this by any means. At MiniFAB we are being propelled by a wave of activity in diagnostic developments, point-of-care innovations, integrated microfluidic devices, smart implants and surgical aids from across the globe. More and more of our clients are already well under way. They enlist MiniFAB’s support in translating their devices into mass-manufacturable designs that meet the regulatory requirements and the commercial targets of cost and reliability. Hot spots of entrepreneurial activity are those well known centres in North America and Europe, but increasingly great hubs of innovation are emerging in other regions. 

I doubt that there is a single factor that is responsible for this recent surge in activity. Rather it is a result of the incremental advances in manufacturing processes and our improved ability to automatically handle small volumes of sample and reagents.

In other words, microfluidics is finally coming of age. 

Much more importantly, commercial success is due to the increasing sophistication of the business models from entrepreneurs developing new diagnostics. While improved patient outcomes are always the goal, it isn’t always the patient, doctor or hospital that is most suitable to using the technology to best effect. The chain of supply for health and wellness has many more players, often with specializations that have specific needs. Some examples of specialist areas include eye care, blood measurement, wound care, trauma, dentistry, drug development and many others. By understanding the work flows of these specialists, and getting what is often called the “Human Factors Engineering” right at the start of the design process, successful products are emerging that manage to gain good commercial traction. And while your technology may be cool and disruptive, it isn’t necessarily the smartest thing to rely on that disruption to drive commercial uptake.

I know MiniFAB's Technical Manager, Europe, Dr Micah Atkin is looking forward to discussing these issues and many more at the Bio-Sensing Conference in Portugal next week. Micah will be giving a key note presentation at the event on 'Biosensor integration for real world products'.

Another feature of this increase in activity is the role of hubs or clusters. Many regional governments have put considerable effort over the past decade to create and grow precincts or clusters, and some of these are really taking off. What is the magic that makes some burst into success while others languish? I wish I knew, but certainly the influence of a few key individuals always seems to be more important that the outlandish architectural statement of the buildings or the incubator’s paint work. Our local cluster is STC and there is a fun entrepreneurship challenge happening right now. MiniFAB is a foundation sponsor of this year’s Medtech’s Got Talent, along with J&J, Monash University and Grey Innovation. With key support from the Victorian State Government and a host of other sponsors, 16 teams have made it through to the next stage of the entrepreneurship challenge. Boot camps and mentoring assistance is helping these teams hone their skills to pitch to investors for significant cash prizes. The experiences shared with the fellow participants builds lifelong linkages, and of course the prestige of the win gives a huge boost to the enterprises going forward. Meanwhile those of us involved in the event and the cluster benefit from the added energy, activity and ideas buzzing around the community.

One consequence of all of this is that our team needs to grow. At MiniFAB we are looking for more engineers that understand good design and the translation of precision polymer technology into volume manufacturing. In particular we are looking to build-out our biochemistry and microbiology departments. We have ongoing recruitment programs that I would invite anybody interested to look at. Now is a great time to join us, surfing this wave of entrepreneurship, product development and manufacture.

Erol Harvey - CEO

Bio-Sensing Technology, 2015

'Biosensor integration for real world products'
Bio-Sensing Technology 2015
10 - 13 May 2015

Join MiniFAB at the 4th International Conference on Bio-Sensing Technology in Lisbon, Portugal. MiniFAB's Technical Manager, Europe, Dr Micah Atkin will be giving a keynote presentation on 'Biosensor integration for real world products'. 

Micah's presentation will discuss the product development process relating to the integration of biosensors into some real world products. Covering some of the issues encountered during many biosensor product development processes, such as compatibility of materials and processes, minimisation of materials and sub-components and importantly integration of functionality. 

The conference provides a forum for accessing to the most up-to-date and authoritative knowledge from both commercial and academic worlds, sharing best practice in the field as well as learning about case studies of successfully integrated bio-sensing technologies. The meeting is an opportunity to highlight recent developments and to identify emerging and future areas of growth in this exciting field.

If you're planning on being at Bio-Sensing Technology this year, send Andrew an email and let's organise a time for you to meet with the team.

Conference Information

10 - 13 May 2015
Lisbon, Portugal
Find out more about Bio-Sensing Technology here.

FAB People

Welcome to FAB People; a chance for you to get to know the team that makes MiniFAB the world-leading custom development and manufacturing company it is. Each edition we'll speak with one of MiniFAB's expert engineers, scientists, designers and business managers. Today we meet Peter Münster, Project Manager, BioLAB.

In addition to the classical project management tasks, Peter is responsible for leading the development team in the translation of diagnostic assays in MiniFAB's BioLAB.

What does a day at MiniFAB look like for you?

I get into the office and head straight for the coffee machine; a morning requirement. An afternoon requirement as well actually... Most days start with a couple of hours of project meetings. Following the regular technical meetings with our partners I would typically touch base with our team of engineers and scientists to get progress updates and set tasks for the projects currently running.

Your area of expertise, biochemistry, is increasingly in demand by our clients. What has this meant for you and MiniFAB's biochemistry facilities?

In the past MiniFAB has worked collaborativley with our partners, with our focus remaining on the delivery of disposable cartridges and our partners' on incorporating the assay components. As MiniFAB has grown we have developed an all-encompassing service which includes both the engineering, as well as the assay translation capability. In this way we can fabricate, assemble and functionalise the diagnostic cartridges and provide a completed package to our partners. We are currently in the process of moving into our new BioSUITE, we have effectively tripled the BioLAB footprint and now have dedicated zones for molecular and immuno-diagnostic development activities running to a PC2 (USA  - BSL2) standard. 

You work closely with MiniFAB's clients to translate their concepts into prototypes, and on into manufacturable products; what's your favourite part of the process?

Success! Seriously, seeing the whole process through: from building a relationship with new partners, generating concepts that have the potential to solve a really difficult problem, and then translating that vision into functioning, and ultimately manufacturable parts.

Tell us something about MiniFAB that you wouldn't read on our website.

Awesome colleagues! It's a really dynamic and driven team; from the directors to the lab techs. 

You joined MiniFAB in 2010; any favourite memories? 

I remember walking for kilometres in the blazing L.A. sun with our CEO, Business Development Manager and Product Development Manager to get from the conference to the hotel on my first sales trip to North America. It was a long-trek after an even-longer day at the conference, but we'd had a great day meeting people and discussing new technologies, concepts and how MiniFAB could help realise some really exciting products. The journey also ended well, sharing some cold beers with the team.

Connect with Peter on LinkedIn

First in human trials of MVG bionic eye

The Monash Vision Group this week announced that the first in human trials of its bionic eye will start in 2016.

At the American Association for Neurology Surgeons' annual scientific meeting in Washington DC Professor Jeffrey Rosenfeld, director of the Monash Institute of Medical Engineering, said that: "We have gone past the point of no return, where the device has been manufactured in prototype form and it is working in the laboratory".

This is exciting news for MVG and its partners, of which MiniFAB is proud to be one.

The MVG bionic eye will be implanted into up to five patients next year, all of whom are without site. Importantly, the reasons behind the patients' blindness may vary. The design of MVG's bionic eye bypasses the normal visual pathway, meaning that the patients need not have a functioning retina.

Read more about the coming trials here or watch a short news clip on the project from May 4 2015.

The Monash Vision Group, a collaboration between Monash University, Alfred Health, MiniFAB and Grey Innovation.

We're looking for talented individuals to join our growing team

MiniFAB is growing and looking for talented individuals to join our team. With a pipeline of exciting manufacturing and development projects, we’re looking for new team members with experience in, and a passion for, the medical device and diagnostics industries. We work on the cutting edge of our field, helping our customers across the globe get their industry-changing products to market.

MiniFAB’s corporate culture values team work, creativity and diligence. We work together to deliver the best result for our client, and at the same time ensuring a friendly workplace for our staff. Get a feel for our corporate culture in this short video put together in 2012 to celebrate MiniFAB’s 10th anniversary - three years later almost all of the staff interviewed in the film are still with the company. 

We're currently looking for a Lead Diagnostic Product Development Engineer, a MicroBiology Lab Technician and a Senior Biochemist. To read the full position descriptions and apply, please click here.

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