3 innovative Aussie start-ups to watch in 2018

3 innovative Aussie startups to watch in 2018

The start-up scene in Australia shows no sign of waning, and NSW in particular seems to be going from strength to strength. According to the Start-up Genome’s Global Start-up Ecosystem Report 2017, Sydney comes in at no. 17 in a list of the top 20 best start-up ecosystems in the world – and the state government has the top 10 in its sights.

Since 2015, more than $900 million has been invested in NSW start-ups, with the NSW government recently committing an additional $340 million through its Jobs for NSW and GO NSW Equity Fund, to continue to support fast-growth businesses. “The [start-up] sector is worth $70 billion to the NSW economy,” says Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro. “So as a government we want to be doing everything we can to create the right environment for people to have the confidence to launch a start-up, and the support they need to make sure it succeeds.”

For just a taste of Australia’s thriving start-up scene, here are 3 innovative start-ups to keep an eye on in the coming months.

Opus Medical

Breast cancer is a serious and prevalent issue – according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 1 out of 14 individuals will be diagnosed with breast cancer by the age of 85.

Even the treatment can potentially be harmful, as radiotherapy can cause fatal radiation heart damage.

But now this is risk has been drastically minimised, thanks to Sydney start-up Opus Medical, and their product Breathe Well.

Breathe Well measures a patient’s breathing with a motion-sensor camera, and uses a display to coach the patient on how to adjust their breathing so that the radiation beam can more accurately target the treatment area, thereby reducing damage to the surrounding healthy tissue.

The technology was pioneered by Dr Paul Keall, a professor in the School of Medicine at the University of Sydney, and developed with company co-founder Dr Sean Pollock as part of his PhD project.

Dr Sean Pollock, co-founder of Opus Medical

Dr Sean Pollock, co-founder of Opus Medical

Breathe Well is set to improve cancer treatment worldwide, with the technology securing Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for sale in Australia and the US. “We believe there are strong global opportunities for this technology and expect 2018 to be a big year for us,” says Dr Pollock.


What do you get when you combine the talents of someone in television production, a commercial pilot and a construction project manager? A sophisticated tool that could help revolutionise crop management.

Stu Adam (who previously worked in television), Tim Howell (the pilot) and Rouley Ragg (the construction project manager who later turned his sights to drone construction) together form Agronomeye, a Sydney-based start-up that uses drones to scan crops to help identify any problems.

Agronomeye founders Rouley Ragg and Tim Howell

Co-founders Rouley Ragg (left) and Tim Howell with one of their drones (Source: Instagram @agronomeye)

“We build custom composite drones fitted with multi-spectral sensors and supported by software we developed with UNSW under the TechVoucher project to accurately capture data,” Adam said. “Our drones can analyse large areas – up to 600 hectares a day – and generate high-resolution maps to identify crop problems for treatment, like nutrient deficiency, pest and weed infestation, dehydration, as well as expected yield.”

“It means rather than treating an entire crop with expensive products, isolated problems can be quickly pinpointed and fixed. This means major cost savings on fertilisers, pesticides, soil management and other works,” says Mr Barilaro. “On top of the productivity gains, there’s also enormous environmental benefits.”

The technology promises to save farmers big dollars. “This is a fantastic technological boost for our agriculture sector,” says Mr Barilaro.

Alpha Vet Tech

If you’ve ever had a pet undergo surgery, then you’ll know first-hand how difficult it can be to know how your animal’s doing post-op. After all, an animal can’t just tell you how it’s feeling.

Enter Wollongong start-up Alpha Vet Tech, founded by business partners and married couple Jeremy Bocknek and Gabrielle Browne, and their platform, The Wireless Zoo.

Currently an animal’s vital signs, such as heart rate, oxygen saturation and internal temperature, can only be monitored through cumbersome wired monitors during surgery and in immediate post-op recovery. The Wireless Zoo, however, does away with the wires, instead using wearable devices that allow vets to monitor an animal’s signs even while it is awake. The information is transmitted to the cloud, so vets can continue to monitor the animal, even from their homes, and be alerted if any changes require immediate medical attention.

Not only does this mean a much better outcome for the animal, it also means the vet can do away with the cost and inconvenience of having someone on-site at odd hours to monitor the animal.

The prototype technology was developed with the support of a $25,000 Minimum Viable Product grant from the NSW Government-backed Jobs for NSW, and is currently undergoing final testing at NSW vet practices, Toronto Zoo and with RSPCA Queensland.

startup Alpha Vet Tech client

“This technology has the potential to revolutionise the global animal health and performance industries. Not only is it grabbing the attention of vets but also sectors such as the dairy industry and even the horseracing and camel-racing industries,” says Mr. Barilaro. “This is a fantastic example of the NSW Government backing a great idea with the potential to tap into new international markets across various animal industries.”

“We are looking to support animal care in more than 200 veterinary practices in Australia and have also received interest from the dairy industry in China and even camel racers in Qatar, so the potential scope is enormous,” says Bocknek. “We also want to build a healthcare platform similar to what you would see in a human hospital allowing vets to access a global research database.”

Are you looking for funds to kickstart your own great idea? There are many routes you could go down, including applying for government funding and, of course, crowdfunding. But while crowdfunding might be a perennial favourite, it’s not as easy as it looks. To learn more, download our free ebook From idea to implementation: How to crowdfund like a pro.

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