20 February 2023

Supporting Life Science Success

Callaghan Innovation is Aotearoa’s national innovation agency. We activate innovation and help businesses grow faster for a better New Zealand. Our support for Life Science centres on three focus areas including Biotech, HealthTech and Agritech. In the first of a three-part blog series we focus on our unique support initiatives for HealthTech commercialisation.

Navigating healthtech: Concept to commercialisation

The global growth potential of New Zealand’s healthtech sector is huge, but innovators  face increasing and tougher obstacles on the road from having a bold idea to building a successful business. Some of the complex challenges unique to this sector include strict regulatory requirements that differ country to country, long commercialisation pathways and higher capital needs.

The key to building a successful healthtech business amid these challenges – and ultimately a successful, resilient healthtech industry –  is a well-connected, supportive ecosystem. To this end, in 2020, Callaghan Innovation launched the HealthTech Activator (HTA), a coordinated, ecosystem-wide support mechanism for early-stage NZ healthtech founders and businesses.

Created in partnership with key health sector stakeholders – the Consortium for Medical Device Technologies (CMDT) with support from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) – the HTA’s mission is to de-risk and accelerate the commercialisation process for healthtech innovation. The HTA does this by offering support and education in everything from clinical trials and regulatory planning to accessing funds, market validation and capital planning.

Why do we need the HTA?

New Zealand’s healthtech sector shows impressive growth potential. According to the Technology Investment Network’s (TIN) 2022 report, in 2021, healthtech firms generated $2.9 billion in revenue, accounting for 11% of our top 200 technology businesses and demonstrating a five-year compound annual growth rate of 12.1%.

In 2021, NZ healthtech businesses employed more than 10,000 staff here and overseas, up 20% over the previous four years. The average wage was $89,000 per annum, more than 40% higher than the NZ average.

However, there are knowledge gaps in how to access funding, particularly pre-seed funds, test the product/market fit, attract investors, and find mutually beneficial collaboration opportunities with healthcare providers to trial and develop new products. This ecosystem-wide support mechanism aims to advance, de-risk and accelerate the commercialisation of HealthTech innovation in New Zealand.

Who benefits from the HTA?

At the HTA we work with innovators, no matter where they come from across the research, science and innovation (RSI) sector – whether through the university system, as an entrepreneur, or clinician looking to establish a healthtech business.

To date, we have worked directly with over 150 healthtech businesses in bio-pharma, therapeutics, medical devices, and digital health. We’re engaging effectively across the healthtech commercialisation landscape with more than 1000 subscribers.

The HTA delivers personalised advisory support, capability-building modules, workshops, and webinars, all developed with stakeholders across the sector. The HTA website acts as a go-to hub for healthtech information, providing a point of coordination and connectivity. The HTA also provides database search support, sharing data and sector intelligence using international partners like Gerson Lehrman Group (GLG) and Global Data.

Our wraparound service can offer guidance around capital planning, market validation, regulatory preparedness, reimbursement, and clinical trial preparedness, focusing on addressing the unique aspects of the healthtech commercialisation journey.

What’s more, the HTA can connect innovators to other commercialisation services provided by Callaghan Innovation and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) to advance their ideas.

NZ’s healthtech to the world

From the invention of the disposable syringe to the establishment of Glaxo, which became GSK, and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, there’s a tradition of NZ punching well above its weight in healthtech. The more  innovators we can support through the HTA, the better chance NZ has of extending that legacy into new global markets, and of continuing to broaden the impact of New Zealand’s wider Life Science sector.

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