On the road – taking myopia control innovations to China

Sydney, Australia, 14 March 2018With around 600 million myopes and a relatively undeveloped contact lens market, China represents a huge opportunity for a successful myopia control contact lens product.

With potentially challenging regulatory and administrative hurdles, Rebecca Weng, our Myopia Program facilitator, has been searching out opportunities to access this market and venture capital. She has discovered a novel pathway – competitions especially hosted for young inventors and entrepreneurs by local universities and ‘innovation hubs’ – which provide access to investors and various levels of support for commercialisation to the most outstanding innovations.

Rebecca has pitched novel myopia contact lens technology developed by Brien Holden Vision Institute at series of joint events in Australia and China, with some success.

She won 3rd prize at the first ‘iGlobal’ competition, hosted by Tsinghua University, China’s leading university, and co-hosted by University of New South Wales, Sydney, also came third and the only Australian finalist at a similar event hosted by Yangtze Delta Region Institute of Tsinghua University, and received 2nd prize in the medical device division in the competition at Hangzhou Hi Tech Park. Being a native Mandarin speaker and an accredited translator hasn’t harmed her prospects.

“The competition in Hangzhou is an initiative of the Chinese Science and Technology Association and the Zhejiang Provincial People’s Government, with the purpose of identifying talented international entrepreneurs to work in or collaborate with companies in Zhejiang Province,” Rebecca says. “It is an excellent way to get exposure to potential investors, access institutional endorsement and assistance that will help facilitate technology transfer, and to boost our profile.

“We believe we have developed a superior technology that will enable eye care practitioners to deliver improved myopia management for their patients. There are some other elements that need to be addressed, such as practitioner training in contact lens prescribing, but making our technology available is a priority and increased uptake would be a significant boost for our organisation.

“It was an incredible experience competing against some of the world’s leading universities, including Harvard and Stanford in the U.S., and I’m very proud that our product stood out so clearly among 500 others. We had an overwhelming response from several municipal governments and the Yangtze Delta Region Institute of Tsinghua University, who have expressed an interest in collaborating with us.”

Rebecca Weng, Myopia Program Facilitator, at iGlobal competition in Shanghai, China

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