From smelter to workplace safety innovator, Jason Johnstone was awarded the Te Papa Hauora Innovation Prize at the Healthtech Challenge Demo and Awards Night in Christchurch on 12 July.
Powered by ChristchurchNZ and delivered by Ministry of Awesome, the HealthTech Supernode Challenge aims to identify and support New Zealand’s most promising ideas and innovations with global commercial potential that solve real healthcare problems.
The Challenge brought together some of the best minds across New Zealand’s innovation community to support innovators in the fast-growing digital health tech sector of Ōtautahi Christchurch, a growing seedbed for health education, research, and innovation in New Zealand.
Simon Anderson, Acting General Manager of Innovation and Business Growth at ChristchurchNZ commented that the pre-accelerator partnership with Ministry of Awesome is an example of Christchurch’s prolific approach to health care that brings together a creative and inspiring network integrating world-class healthcare, research, innovation, education and industry.
“The Challenge itself isn’t just about accelerating global ideas. It is about creating connections and supporting commercialisation to unlock boundaries and challenge the status quo.”
Seven finalists took the stage to pitch their innovations at last Wednesday’s Demo event at Tūranga in central Christchurch. This year’s cohort demonstrated a wide range of innovations addressing pertinent issues across the healthcare system.
From hardware and software diagnostic solutions to mental health and wellbeing applications, the teams delivered focused solutions on making healthcare more equitable, accessible and effective for New Zealanders.
Jason Johnstone, the founder of hand-arm vibration (HAV) monitoring device, Vibration Action, was the winner of the innovation cash prize awarded by Te Papa Hauora, Christchurch Health Precinct.
Having experienced the nerve-damaging effects from over-exposure to vibration he received while working with power tools, Jason developed a vibration monitoring device using cloud-based technology. The prize will help further the development and market launch of Johnstone’s technology.
“The winning technology has been developed from personal experience and a clear passion for solving the problem”, says Peter Townsend, Te Papa Hauora Advisory Council Chair
Increasing regulation in industry indicates that a solution is needed. The product’s technology with further commercialisation support has the potential to protect and create better outcomes for workers.
Marian Johnson, Chief Executive at Ministry of Awesome, says, “The Challenge has uncovered incredible innovation with the potential to make a positive global impact in a critical sector. These startups, together with the support from Christchurch’s flourishing innovation community are creating jobs for a more resilient future. Congratulations to all 9 Finalists and to Jason from Vibration Action. We are excited to continue working alongside Jason through Founder Catalyst, our startup incubator at Te Ōkaha – Ara’s centre for growth and innovation.
About the Healthtech Supernode Challenge
The HealthTech Supernode Challenge aims to position Christchurch as New Zealand’s centre of health innovation by attracting and growing talent, business and innovation.
Over the last seven weeks, nine startups selected into the HTC pre-accelerator have worked alongside startup mentors, coaches and sector specialists from Via Innovations, Icehouse Ventures, Te Papa Hauora and Edmund Hillary Fellowship towards accelerating their venture’s commercial readiness.
“Christchurch has already made a recent impact on health tech startup innovation”. Says Dale Stephens, Ministry of Awesome Trustee and Chair, giving prominence to Virtual Reality exposure therapy app, oVRcome, past participants of the 2020 HTC programme, who also recently won an innovation and growth award at the Australia and New Zealand Leadership Forum in Sydney last week.
“We’ve got to create and grow the environment to keep our best and brightest, by doing this mahi, and making a real difference for our communities.”
Commenting on the rise of investment in new healthcare technologies, Peter Townsend, Advisory Council Chair of the Health Precinct, says
“Health in New Zealand is about 10% of our GDP; it is about 11% of our workforce. We are under the pump like we’ve never been under the pump before. And that’s only going to get bigger.”
Learn more about the Healthtech Supernode Challenge and startups at www.healthtechchallenge.co.nz