Brisbane is set to host Australia’s first Startup Weekend focusing solely on the health tech sector, with organisers expecting over a hundred participants including from interstate.
Organised by ilab, Startup Weekend Health will take place at the Translational Research Institute in Woolloongabba, with the event running from Friday, March 27 at 6pm (AEST) through to Sunday, March 29 at 9pm.
It comes at a time when interest in the health tech scene is high, including strong meetup groups in both Melbourne and Brisbane, and Adelaide-based Innovyz recently closing applications for Australia’s first health tech accelerator program.
Noting that over $US5 billion ($A6.5 billion) was invested in health tech startups last year, ilab director Bernie Woodcroft told Private Media there are two key drivers of the growth in the sector.
“First, people realise that the opportunities are quite big, and include things like improved health records, big data, devices, apps, and better integration. People are seeing there’s a sustainable business model there,” he says.
“Secondly, there’s a group of drivers that are well known at this point. There’s an ageing population, health spending is rising as a percentage of GDP, and attention is very focused on reducing the cost of healthcare.”
Woodcroft says that growing interest has translated into strong participant interest for the event, both from within Queensland and, in some cases, from interstate.
“At this stage, we’re expecting well over 100 people to participate, we’ve already well exceeded our sponsorship targets for the weekend. Mentors from clinical, technical and business backgrounds have been easy to find.
“Startup groups from interstate are also interested in how a health-specialist Startup Weekend works, and how it’s different to a normal Startup Weekend, and so we will be sharing those learnings.”
One of the key challenges Woodcroft has encountered is that there is a difference in the risk profile for health products when compared to retail tech products, especially given people’s health and wellbeing is potentially on the line.
“There’s a real concern that if people don’t trust the information – either from the doctor’s or the patient’s side, a system won’t work. So privacy and security are important issues. That said, it’s important to remember that paper medical records go missing to, and so you need to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of each approach.
“It’s also a targeting a different audience to a normal startup event. So you need a lot more educational marketing for clinical and research folk who aren’t necessarily thinking about things in an entrepreneurial way.
“So you need to educate a new group who haven’t participated in a Startup Weekend before about how they work.”