Amani Batarseh from BCAL Diagnostics talks about why their work is important and how the Sydney Knowledge Hub is helping BCAL achieve their aims.
BCAL Diagnostics is developing and commercialising a universal screening test for early detection of breast cancer by analysing lipids in the blood and aims to shift the paradigm in breast cancer screening by introducing a blood test for detection of the disease that can help women regardless of age, race and geographic location and is accessible to women everywhere.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer amongst women, therefore, improving the effectiveness of the screening and diagnosis technology used is a high priority. The implication of such a technology could revolutionise the way we manage breast cancer by allowing a blood sample to be taken remotely from the site of analysis. BCAL was co-founded by Ms Jayne Shaw and The Honorary AO Ron Philips, ex-minister of health for NSW. They bring together extensive experience in the health sector, specifically women’s health.
We became members of the Sydney Knowledge Hub primarily to:
Dr Ben Crossett, the manager of Sydney MS approached BCAL in Jan 2019 to invite us to meet the earlier team that was establishing SKH, for he saw the value and synergy in the mission of SKH and the needs of BCAL as a small promising start-up.
As BCAL progressed, we started expanding our operations, which required a more space and access to facilities and systems that the University could provide. The Hub has been instrumental in providing us access to core facilities and services and worked quickly to address several of our needs and getting us set up. The various networking opportunities, partnerships, and webinars were all vital in helping me spread the BCAL mission. As was the introductions to key contacts in the commercialisation team at University and Westmead. Most of all, having the opportunity to be in an environment with other companies that are going through similar experiences gave us support, a sense of belonging, and the energy to keep going.
We are very excited that surgeons at LifeHouse, RPAH and NSW BreastScreen are considering running a pilot study with the BCAL test to assess its clinical utility. Part of this pilot, we want to apply machine learning and AI to enhance the accuracy of our test by training an algorithm on real-world samples. We have also reached out to other start-ups at the Knowledge Hub that may be interested in joining our initiative.
The Knowledge Hub, through the capable leadership of Rupal and her wonderful team, has assisted in introducing us to partners from across multiple disciplines. A connection to a Breast Cancer research group at Westmead Breast Cancer Institute opened the door to meeting clinicians at Westmead Hospital, who began working with us along with clinicians from LifeHouse and RPAH on an ethics application to start a local sample collection to validate the BCAL test. Introductions to the commercialisation department connected us with lead academics at the University, which allowed discussions for ARC funding applications. We also connected with fellow Knowledge Hub start-up, DetectED-X, a breast cancer imaging start-up, about potential collaborations. These are just a few examples of the versatile connections established thanks to Sydney Knowledge Hub.
Matthew Boustred from ResusRight talks about their company and their experience being a member of the Sydney Knowledge Hub.
ResusRight's mission is to revolutionise newborn delivery room resuscitation. Every year a million babies die, and another million babies are left with a disability, due to a lack of oxygen at birth.
We've developed a low-cost monitoring system to help clinicians get resuscitation right and reduce the numbers of babies who die or are left with a disability. The idea is that it provides clinicians feedback on whether they are resuscitating correctly so that they have confidence in an extremely stressful situation that they are optimising ventilatory support of the infant.
We founded the company at the beginning of the year based on research conducted by one of our co-founders, the erudite Dr Mark Tracy, and development work carried out by my other co-founder, Matt Crott, and myself.
Over the past eight months, we've been powering through product development. We're currently raising a seed round to move into the next stage of execution.
We only moved into the Knowledge Hub about a month ago but have already been really enjoying the space and being around other like-minded startups. There are some great opportunities for collaboration we see coming up in the near future, such as using the manufacturing facilities to assist with next-gen prototyping. We are also looking to hire our first employees and the university presents a great avenue to find talent!
When we moved into the SKH, there was a lot of talk about the death of the office and the move to working from home. I can say with certainty that the advantages of a physical working space will never be replaced! The opportunity for face to face collaboration, the serendipity of water-cooler chats, and the ability to build a team culture are all invaluable for any company. For a startup, with a grow or die mentality and who to some extent lives flying by the seat of their pants, it is irreplaceable.
We've also loved getting to know other startups in the space like Streamplate. The Sydney Knowledge Hub team of Rupal, Andrew and Sarah are all amazing and have been helpful in finding us practical resources like IP advice and putting us in touch with useful contacts from their network.