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Bionics Institute CEO Robert Klupacs features on InnovationAus’ Commercial Disco podcast.

The Bionics Institute has long been known as an innovation leader, and our CEO Robert Klupacs recently talked about our translational research on the Commercial Disco podcast.


Hosted by InnovationAus’ Editorial Director James Riley, the Commercial Disco podcast interviews corporate, academic and political leaders about what’s driving the transformation of Australia’s economy, and what’s needed to bring great innovation to life.



In this episode, Robert talks about how the Bionics Institute’s close proximity to clinical collaborators in the St Vincent’s Hospital precinct, plus affiliations with the University of Melbourne and the Eye and Ear Hospital, fosters powerful and creative collaborations.

“Because there’s that constant bumping together of problem solvers – engineers – with clinicians that have just come out of surgery or the clinic saying: ‘hey, I’ve got this problem’, that’s the unusual feature that we have in our precinct.

“A lot of traditional medical research is done in a laboratory setting without too much clinician input and particularly the clinician being able to test what we make – that certainly doesn’t happen very often. But in our precinct, it does,” Robert explains.

Robert also delves into government funding of Australian innovation following establishment of the new National Reconstruction Fund and the Industry Growth Program as part of the recent federal budget announcements.

Welcoming that the government has recognised innovation as a growth driver of our country, he highlights that there are still some issues to be addressed in current funding models.

“We have a lot of support for the early discovery phase; we have burgeoning support now for ones that have come out the other side and the manufacturing of these things. But that middle ground, that very high-value adding ‘Valley of Death’ … there’s actually quite limited support from government for.”

Robert says that once concepts have moved from ideation stage into the development phase, there are significant financial barriers to having a product validated and to the cusp of clinical evaluation.

“That’s the challenge we identified in [the Bionics Institute] White Paper. My team calls it the ‘Valley of opportunity’, many other people call it the ‘Valley of Death’: how do you take a concept through that bridge to make it investor ready? It’s high risk but that’s where the value is actually generated.”

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