NSSN hosted Developing Commercially Scalable Smart Devices seminars

The NSW Smart Sensing Network (NSSN), UNSW and Genesys Electronics Design, hosted two industry seminars on Developing Commercially Scalable Smart Devices and Developing Commercially Scalable Medical Products with Embedded Electronics at UNSW on 3 September 2019.

"The first objective of the seminars is to inform and educate researchers from NSSN member universities on the importance of streamlining the product development process from benchtop to market. Secondly by exposing our member universities to local NSW manufacturers and businesses such as Genesys Electronic Design we are able to build a strong and collaborative network here in NSW rather than engaging with overseas manufacturers," said NSSN Research Theme Leader, Dr Amanda Hayes "In turn this will deliver prosperity via economic and social benefits to NSW."

"There's an extremely bright future for MedTech wearables, and this is synergistic with the Internet of Things revolution, where wearables are becoming increasingly practical and useful," said the CEO of Genesys Electronics Design and the seminars' keynote speaker, Geoff Sizer.

The seminars' provided an introduction to the commercialisation of electronics hardware, associated software and smart electronic medical devices to an audience of researchers and industry experts, with a focus on how regulations relate to engineering design processes. Topics such as learning curve management around IoT technologies, the importance of modularity at both a hardware and software level and, the practicalities of designing and manufacturing printed circuit boards for commercial production were discussed as well.

"There is a lot of work in spaces such as wearable items where sensors are built into articles that will be worn like gloves and clothing for vital sign measurement with applications in physiotherapy, rehabilitation, general health and well being," said Mr Sizer.

The development of commercially scalable medical technologies with embedded electronics involves a higher regulatory burden than most other devices. A key challenge is the mandatory requirement for user needs, traceability of any software developed and demonstrating both the electrical safety and essential performance of the device.

"There are considerations of using devices like Fitbit and Apple watches, for monitoring vital signs as part of medical device systems. This raises significant challenges about whether those devices doing the measurement meet the requirements for medical devices that can be certified," said Sizer.


NSW universities are at the forefront of smart sensing research, discovering and fabricating next-generation sensors that are bio-compatible, nanoscale, non-invasive, cost-effective and lead to enhanced quality of life. However, collaboration between the industry and university researchers can be a complicated process.

"There are significant commercial challenges in taking IP from the university space, and then commercialising it in terms of negotiating a commercial arrangement that satisfactory to both parties," said Sizer. 

"One of the core strengths of the NSSN is to function as a conjugate between our university members and industry and government partners. This includes understanding the needs of all parties involved in a potential project and getting the commercial agreements signed in a timely manner," said Dr Hayes.

"For instance, each university has individual preferences with regards to IP. The NSSN has experience working and resolving commercial and project agreements encompassing multiple universities and industry and government partners so the project can proceed," Dr Hayes added. 

Partnering with the NSSN simplifies the process of engaging with universities by creating a single point-of-contact for the leading research-intensive universities. The NSSN enables companies and government partners to access expertise and technology from across NSW's and ACT's leading universities and gain an enduring competitive advantage.

"NSSN have organised this workshop and a series of other workshops with other universities. They have opened doors for us that we really would have found very difficult to open on our own and helped to generate new business by helping us raise our profile, particularly amongst the research community," said Tim Kannegieter, the marketing manager of the Genesys Electronic Design.

"From our first workshop that we ran just a few weeks ago, one of the university researchers have come to us with an idea that they want to take to commercialisation and we're working with them on the designs for that," said Kannegieter.

"We heard about the learnings from the industry, and if we hear enough about those problems as they emerge in the industry, that's when we can get great academic outcomes," said Iain Walker from UNSW knowledge exchange team, "it was a great forum to bring together multiple disciplines and hear different perspectives that might challenge designers in different ways and stimulate a conversation."

NSSN and Genesys Electronics Design will host the next seminars on Developing Commercially Scalable Smart Devices and Developing Commercially Scalable Medical Products at the University of Wollongong on 17 September.

Shahrzad Abbasi