Digital skin check service wins Sydney Genesis startup competition

11 July 2023
DermScreen aims to improve detection of melanoma
A dermatologist who has developed technology to tackle melanoma has won $25,000 towards his venture in the University of Sydney Business School's flagship startup accelerator.

The 31st Genesis cohort featured a wide diversity of projects ranging from oat cheese  to robot building inspections, but it was Dr Philip Tong who took home the top prize with DermScreen.

Inspired by his experience as a dermatologist, the company’s mission is to improve access, reduce cost and increase early detection of melanoma – the third-most diagnosed cancer in Australia.

“Melanoma is our national cancer, and it can affect not only older people but also younger Australians as well. Early detection and treatment can be lifesaving, but delayed diagnosis can result in serious consequences,” Dr Tong said.

“As a young dermatologist, I am passionate about my clinical work, but my impact in improving health outcomes was confined to my local community.

I want to make a real difference for all Australians, and with DermScreen I’m well placed to enact positive change for our industry and ultimately save lives.
Dr Philip Tong, DermScreen founder

Dr Philip Tong (centre) with other members of the 31st Genesis cohort. Photos: Christopher Wright

The scarcity of dermatologists in Australia, particularly in rural and regional areas, means access to early detection for many is limited. DermScreen aims to change that by equipping trained melanographers (experts in detecting skin cancer and melanoma) with the hardware and software to perform a full-body skin check within 15 minutes – a scan that is then clinically assessed by a dermatologist at another location.

While currently only based in Bondi Junction, Dr Tong aims to roll DermScreen out across the country and guarantee same-week appointments with melanographers to all patients.

“Digitising the skin check process in a way that’s reproducible also allows us to track your skin over time with a baseline for future comparison. If you use the ABCDE melanoma detection guide, E is for evolution – our technology now lets us objectively assess this,” Dr Tong said.

Defy-Hi Robotics cofounder Abbie Widin with a Building Envelope Access Robot designed for facade maintenance.

Open to University of Sydney staff, students and alumni, Genesis accepts the best startups twice a year to accelerate their commercial and social enterprises.

Manager of the Genesis program, James Crowther, said it was a pleasure hosting teams from the program’s 31st cohort.

“Once again, the competition was fierce. We had a fantastic diversity of founders and ventures, from robotics and the world's first cheese made from oats, to our winner: Phil and his startup, DermScreen.

“Phil impressed the judges as did his venture, which we all agreed had amazing potential across the globe. I'm really looking forward to seeing each of our ten teams continue to push their startups towards success,” James said.

Genesis members over the years have secured $52 million in funding, created nearly 1,000 jobs, and the current community boasts over 500 startups involving 1,500 individuals.

Applications for the next cohort open in mid-July 2023. See here to learn more about the Genesis program and apply to accelerate your startup’s growth.

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