A Victorian technology company has attracted international attention and $3.5 million in financial backing after working with local doctors to develop a smart sensor that will help people with Parkinson's disease.
Minister for Technology Gordon Rich-Phillips said Global Kinetics Corporation (GKC) used a $250,000 voucher from the Victorian Government, designed to encourage the uptake of small technologies, to develop commercial prototypes of a wrist-worn sensor and reporting system.
"The assistance provided through the Small Technologies Industry Uptake Program (STIUP) has helped bring this product to the world stage," Mr Rich-Phillips said.
"GKC has secured $3.5 million in capital to commercialise the system in Australia, Europe and the USA – leveraging funding from the $250,000 voucher.
"This fully Victorian-grown product has been developed, funded and manufactured by Victorians in Victoria.
"Parkinson's disease is the second most common neurological disease in Australia but remains one of the least understood and hardest to treat.
"By combining micro-technology, electronics and mechanical engineering, GKC has developed a device for patients that records their movement disorder symptoms.
"The device provides a digital report to the patient's neurologist who can use the information to optimise treatment.
"This is a great example of the innovative use of converging technologies envisaged in the Coalition Government's Victoria's Technology Plan for the Future – Small Technologies," Mr Rich-Phillips said.
Parkinson's disease affects more than 15,000 Victorians and costs Australia an estimated $8.3 billion a year.
GKC Managing Director Andrew Maxwell said the Victorian Government's STIUP voucher was very important to the company.
"It enabled us to develop commercial prototypes, attract investors and put our product in the hands of movement disorder specialists and their patients," Mr Maxwell said.
"This voucher has ensured that movement disorder specialists and their patients can benefit earlier from this Victorian invention.
"Now we are planning to employ an additional six staff and conduct global clinical trials and we expect to have export sales within six months.
"The immediate benefits of our technology include assisting neurologists to optimise treatment, a reduction in the healthcare costs of Parkinson's disease and most importantly, improved quality of life for patients.
"However, we are also excited about being able to supply researchers with meaningful data on the interactions between symptoms and medications which we hope will lead to further breakthroughs in the treatment of Parkinson's disease," Mr Maxwell said.
The first recipients of the STIUP Trial vouchers were announced in March 2011. The GKC project is the first STIUP Trial project to be completed.
For more information on STIUP visit www.business.vic.gov.au/nanotechnology