A Reverse Engineering Journey

September 21, 2020

Dr Maryam Parviz will join Dr Debbie Saunders and Professor Tony Weiss in a Spark Festival discussion at 12 noon on 15 October from 12 pm. Crazy Works – Startups have more impact than papers will consider how academic researchers can be better prepared to create startups.

Dr Maryam Parviz has a PhD in Biomedical Engineering. Her company SDIP Innovations, develops new bone implants for bone repair and replacement. Maryam attributes her lifelong passion for creating medical devices to her childhood experiences.

“My mum used a hearing aid when I was a little girl. I always wanted a small hearing aid of my own – you know, one of those that are preferred for a discreet look. This technology was not available 25 years ago, when my mother was in her 20s,” she said.

Inspired to help her mum, Maryam chose to study Biomedical Engineering. She worked as a Quality Engineer for almost two years, running tests for customers, including startups. After she completed a PhD, Maryam developed her career in an ARC industrial hub at UTS, which allowed her to spend time with startups working on research translation.

“I have always stayed in the same space, although I never got into the hearing industry. The idea of my current company was initially developed by my co-founder to avoid removal surgeries,” she said.

With 33% of planned orthopaedic surgeries involving the removal of bone implants, Maryam and her cofounder developed and tested their commercialisation idea as part of the NSW Health-Medical Device Commercialisation Training Program. They formed a company, and 4 months later, Maryam left her university role.

“Our story is mostly a reverse Engineering journey when I look back now,” she said. “The initial problem was brought to my co-founder’s attention by an orthopaedic surgeon in Westmead hospital, and the research was initiated to solve that issue.”

In scoping out their business, the pair conducted more than 150 interviews with surgeons, patients, and potential partners and market channels to identify the product requirements and customer demand. 

With strong technical knowledge and a scientific background, Maryam also trained herself in all aspects of the commercialisation side of business through participating in courses and gaining relevant workplace experience.

“In addition to completing the MDCTP program, I worked directly with startups during my post-doc,” she said. “I then completed the CICADA Innovation MedLab accelerator program for 4 months and had an opportunity to be incubated in San-Francisco.”

Encouraging scientists into business

To help redress Australia’s shortfall of scientists pursuing business opportunities,  Maryam would like to see younger scientists provided with commercialisation training during their bachelor study.

“This understanding will shape their way of thinking when they are looking for ideas for doing different university projects or defining their thesis subject,” she said.

“During their postgraduate study, they may try to develop an IP, and their learnings from the past will impact their journey significantly. This will even change their way of thinking when they are planning about their career after graduation.” 

Startups have more impact than papers

Dr Maryam Parviz will join Dr Debbie Saunders and Professor Tony Weiss in a Spark Festival discussion at 12 noon on 15 October from 12 pm. Crazy Works – Startups have more impact than papers will consider how academic researchers can be better prepared to create startups. 

This event is part of Spark Festival, Australia’s largest event for startups, innovators and entrepreneurs. Register here to gain access to the full livestream, running daily from Oct 12 – 23, and check out the range of STEM related events here

Image courtesy of Dr Maryam Parviz. Guest post by Jackie Randles, Manager Inspiring Australia NSW. https://inspiringnsw.org.au/ 

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