Queensland company putting their heart on the line to help the critically ill
In Australia heart failure affects more than 300,000 people per year.
For these patients, drug therapy is a limited, relatively ineffective option and although a heart transplant would meet their needs, only 4000 donor hearts are available globally each year.
Enter two-time Advance Queensland recipients BiVACOR – the Queensland company that have gone global with their artificial heart device designed to take over the complete function of a patient’s failing heart.
The BiVACOR Total Artificial Heart (TAH) is a treatment option for patients with end-stage heart failure who need support while on a heart transplant waiting list or who do not qualify for a transplant.
The small, compact device uses proven rotary blood-pump technology to provide the required cardiac output and is designed to be a long-term device that can replace the total function of the patient’s native heart.
From humble beginnings as a Queensland student project, Chief Executive Officer Daniel Timms said BiVACOR are now a globally recognised company thanks to support from Advance Queensland.
“BiVACOR started in Queensland as a student project and is now an international company pursuing the medical holy grail – a total artificial heart that may become the first viable alternative to a heart transplantation,” Mr Timms said.
“As recipients of two Advance Queensland programs, we were able to significantly improve the size, functionality and robustness of the Total Artificial Heart controller.
“This progress not only led to follow-up funding from Australian investors but also allowed the integration of NASA into the development process, as well as support from renowned heart specialists.
“We continue to work with NASA to ensure the TAH system adheres to the performance, fault-tolerance, and safety requirements of a life-sustaining medical device.
“We have also been backed by the Surgeons of the Texas Heart Institute – many of whom have dedicated their decades long careers to treating heart failure with mechanical blood pumps.”
With headquarters in Queensland and the USA, BiVACOR are a fine example of how the right government funding can help startups commercialise their ideas and expand to global markets.
In 2016, this innovative startup were recipients of the Ignite Ideas Fund allowing them to develop a patient controller prototype for pulsatile operation of a rotary total artificial heart in women and children.
Then in 2018, the company received funding from the Advance Queensland Biomedical Assistance Fund to develop the BiVACOR total artificial heart preclinical controller that powers the device.
Daniel said Advance Queensland’s multitude of funding opportunities, for a wide range of businesses at different commercialisation stages is vital for startups with global aspirations.
“Advance Queensland has provided a steppingstone to be seen on the world stage, helping us to accelerate our development and build up a reputation for larger grants and institutional investment.
“We have an extraordinary team and partners at the Texas Heart Institute and NASA that believe in the success of this exciting project which aims to treat one of the biggest diseases in the world.”
When asked what advice he had for other entrepreneurs and businesses starting out on their innovation journey, Daniel had this to say.
“It is vital that you surround yourself with others who have more knowledge and experience than you do and keep an open mind to their guidance,” Daniel said.
“Remain grounded, objective, and humble. Don’t dismiss those who disagree with your innovative idea and instead work on understanding their reasoning and creating evidence to change their minds.”
“Finally, be prepared to be completely consumed by your drive and passion to see your idea grow, but make sure you maintain the ability to enjoy the journey along the way.”
We are so proud of BiVACOR and their world-class engineers, medical specialists, and business executives who are diligently working to advance this ground-breaking technology.
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