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Aussie bionic eye project secures $2m cash injection

A breakthrough bionic eye that delivers high-fidelity visual and spatial perception for blind people is one of 22 industry-led collaborative R&D projects to share in $47.1 million from the Federal Government. 

ARIA Research Pty Ltd, partnering with the University of Sydney, University of Technology Sydney and World Access For The Blind, have delivered “a validated point of care (POC)”, with blind users demonstrating sufficiently detailed spatial understanding of an unfamiliar space to describe and navigate it, and accurately identify, locate and grab objects.

Now, with the support of a $2.6 million government grant, they plan to undertake preclinical evaluations, build early prototypes, undertake preclinical trials, and prepare for future clinical trials.

If successful, the bionic prosthesis project could provide new levels of independence and autonomy for the blind and vision impaired population nationally (approximately 600,000) and globally (more than 337 million).

The project, valued at $9,686,479, has been funded under round 11 of the government’s Cooperative Research Centre Projects (CRC-P) initiative.

The initiative will deliver a range of innovative technologies and create job opportunities in key manufacturing sectors, including in regional Australia.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Mr Christian Porter said the successful projects were outstanding examples of what can be achieved by fostering research collaborations between industry and research organisations.

“CRC-Ps help strengthen links between research organisations and industry, and support Australian businesses to develop new technologies, products, processes and services for global supply chains,” Porter said.

“Funded projects under the latest round involve 58 Australian companies, including 42 small and medium businesses, and 34 research organisations across the country.”

Since the first round of CRC Projects in 2016, the government has awarded over $376 million in funding under the CRC-P Program to support 176 projects.

In other health-related fields, iOrthotics Pty Ltd (QLD) was awarded a $2.04 million grant to advance the manufacturing of smart orthotics to reduce diabetes related amputations.

Seer Medical Pty Ltd (VIC) was awarded $465,183 to develop its long-term brain monitoring electrodes for an improved patient experience in the diagnosis of epilepsy.

Last year, a joint venture involving five Australian agencies was awarded $12 million in CRC-P funding to develop an AI-assisted platform that could reduce inappropriate patient management at the primary point-of-care in optometry.

The full list of 2021 recipients can be found here.

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