How can we improve infection prevention and management in Victoria?
International Health Division, Department of Health and Human Services
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is leading and coordinating Victoria’s response to coronavirus (COVID-19), helping to ensure we are at the frontline of the global pandemic response.
In light of this, DHHS are looking for startups with innovative ways to help communities prevent and control the spread of infectious diseases and address the issue of antimicrobial resistance.
This challenge is a global partnership with the IKP Knowledge Park in Bangalore. Startups will have the opportunity to explore implementing a solution in both Victoria and India. This is a unique opportunity to build a product with a global mindset from the outset.
What’s the problem?
Infectious diseases cause approximately 31,000 deaths in Australia each year and 8.5 million deaths globally . They are among the leading causes of death worldwide. Often, when people get sick from an infectious disease, it’s because they are unsure of the best way to prevent and manage the illness or are unclear about how to avoid transmitting it to others.
Reducing the spread of infectious diseases through appropriate care, management and prevention is important for individuals, communities and our health system. People with infections may require time off work, need hospital stays and may experience a reduced quality of life. They also pose a risk to their friends, family and community, particularly for vulnerable people such as the elderly and those with weak immune systems.
In addition to infections, our community and health system faces the growing challenge of antimicrobial resistance, or ‘AMR’. This can undermine the prevention and treatment of an ever-increasing range of infections. AMR occurs when microorganisms, such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites, change when they are exposed to antimicrobial drugs, forming ‘superbugs’. Without further action, AMR is anticipated to lead to 10 million deaths each year globally by 2050 with a cost to health systems of up to US$100 trillion.
The challenge is considerable: alongside coronavirus (COVID-19) there are a wide variety of infections and infectious diseases active in our communities. These include sexually transmissible infections, food-borne illnesses, gastro and many more. The challenge has become more complex with the increasing scale of international travel, growth in antibiotic-resistant infections, and the threat of both new and re-emerging infectious diseases.
Building a global solution
This challenge sees CivVic Labs go global with a partnership between DHHS and India’s Innovation Knowledge Park based in Bangalore. Strong cultural ties and people-to-people links underpin Victoria's expanding relationship with India, the second most populous country in the world and growing economy.
While working with DHHS to build a solution in Victoria, startups in India will go on a parallel journey developing solutions for an Indian context. Sharing learnings along the way, startups will travel to India on an immersion trip to explore applications of their solution in the Indian market when it is safe to do so.
What are we looking for in a solution?
The good news is many infections can be prevented or managed with simple interventions.
We want to empower the community to act in their own settings. By way of example, that could be as simple as encouraging people to use antibiotics in line with medical advice or staying home from work when sick.
We are also open to solutions that can help our healthcare practitioners, pharmacies and non-traditional providers like naturopaths, manage infections and AMR.
We are looking for digital solutions to help to generate:
- behaviour change, for example encouraging more appropriate antibiotic use
- reduction in preventable infections
- faster interventions by government
- reduction in the demand for acute services due to infections and infectious diseases.
We’re also looking for solutions that are translatable between the Indian and Australian context. This challenge provides startups with a rare opportunity - to build a product with a global mindset from the outset. Startups will have access to health professionals and startup sector experts in both countries, providing a pathway for a solution to one of the largest global markets.
We are interested in solutions that:
- are relevant to both the Australian and Indian markets
- can translate across a wide range of settings including rural and urban environments, hospital and community health, high and low-income settings
- employ techniques that are appealing, exciting, engaging and interesting
- can provide recommendations ‘on-demand’ when the user needs the information to inform the next course of action
- are evidence-based and scientifically valid.
It is important to note the essence of this challenge is digital health which means we are not looking for new antimicrobials or diagnostics, research submissions, marketing or public information campaigns or products that sit under the remit of the 2018 India Gates Grand Challenge that aimed to identify and fill gaps in knowledge on the burden of resistance to antibacterial agents.
Who are the customers and end-users?
The solution could benefit a range of people and organisations including:
- healthcare practitioners seeking different ways to help patients prevent infections or manage their recovery
- parents looking to manage their children’s recovery and prevent the rest of the family getting sick
- schools looking to control the spread of infection amongst students
- workplaces wishing to improve the health and wellbeing of employees and mitigate the cost of sick leave periods.
What assets are available to help co-design the solution?
Australian and Indian leaders in the field of infectious disease have signed on as mentors and will form two expert panels - one Indian, one Victorian. They are available to advise on content area specifics and provide evidence for interventions.
This includes Victorian experts like:
- Deputy Chief Health Officer, Victoria
- Director, Victoria Infectious Diseases Service (VIDS)
- CEO, MedTech Actuator, Melbourne
- Consumer health representatives
- Digital health experts from DHHS
- Behavioural insights specialists.
What is the opportunity for the successful startup?
This challenge would have up to $185,000 in funding which includes:
- $5,000 for the Pre-accelerator Stage to fine tune your proposal
- $30,000 for the Accelerator Stage to develop an MVP
- $150,000 for the contract during the Development Stage to fully develop and deliver the solution
How does CivVic Labs work?
At CivVic Labs, we go out to government departments and agencies and look for big problems that would benefit from new technology.
These challenges are broadcast to the Victorian startup ecosystem and the best solutions progress to an accelerator experience where you develop a Minimum Viable Product in collaboration with a government customer.
At the end of the program, you're in the running to secure up to $185k to fully develop the solution and we support you along the way with co-working space, coaching, workshops and mentoring.
For more on how this works, head here.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out our FAQs page.
And if you missed our Information session on the 23rd of June 2020, you can watch it here and watch the Q&A session here.