Australia – Melbourne Digital Health Ecosystem is ECHAlliance Ecosystem of the Month – February

16 February 2023

For this month of February we are really excited to be able to feature the Australia – Melbourne Digital Health Ecosystem as our Ecosystem of the Month. Andy Bleaden, our Communities Director, says: “Launched as our first Ecosystem in Australia, our Melbourne Digital Health Ecosystem has strong links with key stakeholders such as industry, government, and academia and are closely involved with many Digital Health Initiatives and are fantastic project partners with many other ECHAlliance Ecosystems. They have grown to launch the Digital Health Hub and co lead our Thematic Innovation Ecosystem on Skills for Health. On a personal note both Kerryn Butler Henderson and Susan Feitoza are fantastic connectors within our global community.”

What is the approximate stakeholder breakdown of your ecosystem?

The Melbourne Digital Health Ecosystem expands across the state of Victoria, Australia and can be broken into three groups. The first are the academic organisations, with eight universities in Victoria all working in the digital health space, including the ecosystem lead RMIT University with the RMIT Digital Health Hub

Next are the health and care providers and administrators. There is one government body in Victoria, who has several different departments including Health, Families, Fairness and Housing, Education, and Jobs, Skills and Industry. In terms of care providers, there are more than 200 public and private hospitals; over 180 public sector residential aged care services and many more private facilities; 17 adult and 13 child and adolescent mental health services that each provide number different types of specialist services; over 200 general practice services; an extensive network of private specialist services; countless allied health and psychological services; over 200 pharmacies; and over 3,000 disability service providers

And thirdly, there are the small and medium enterprise (SME) and multinational companies, of which we cannot qualify as it is such a large space. These are largely technology, data, or insurance companies supporting health and care services, and in many cases are also providers themselves. 

However, whilst we are called the Melbourne Ecosystem, we are the only ecosystem in Australia, and we engage across the whole country across all three groups.

Who are the top 3 champions from your Ecosystem?

The Melbourne Ecosystem works closely with many champions in digital health, but our three leading champions are: 

  1. Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre 
  2. Australasian Institute of Digital Health 
  3. ANDHealth 

What EU funding/collaboration are you involved with, or you would like to be part of?

We are part of numerous European consortiums, some of which were direct results of contacts and partnerships in ECHAlliance, including:

Through RMIT Vietnam (LMIC) and our European Hub in Barcelona, Spain RMIT EU we can directly participate in Horizon Europe funding and collaborate on grant applications with EU and other ecosystems.  Our intention is to leverage funding opportunities with ecosystem partners. Find in this Excel sheet, shortlisted topics of interests. We are seeking to grow our involvement in European funded projects and as such are open to opportunities to join consortiums. RMIT EU provides a legal framework for participation and research services support.  As a university-wide Hub, we have academic expertise across all sectors and bring a multi-disciplinary approach to partnerships. 

What are the key priorities and themes for your ecosystem?

Whilst the Melbourne Ecosystem was established prior to the pandemic, our activities have increased since the launch of the RMIT Digital Health Hub in 2022. Whilst last year was a year of establishment, including us co-leading the Skills for Health Thematic Innovation Ecosystem, in 2023, our priority for the ecosystem is to increase our local engagement with our members and create greater connections with our global ecosystems. For the RMIT Digital Health Hub, our priority is for growth across the Australian and international digital health sector, creating and maintaining strong partnerships with industry, government, and academia. 

What is your primary strength as an ecosystem?

Our primary strength is that we are the only ecosystem in Australia for the ECHAlliance. We have strong connections in the Australian sector to all areas of industry, government, and academia and are members of key leading digital health organisations, such as the Digital Health Corporative Research Centre, a consortium of leading industry, government, and academic organisations co-designing sustainable digital health solutions, and ANDHealth, Australia’s commercialisation engine room for digital health. RMIT University is a leader in Australia in health simulation and our facilities and services, including the RMIT Activator and various living laboratories, are why RMIT is an ECHAlliance ecosystem.

Who are your clinical champions, either hospitals, clinicians, specialties?

We have many strong partnerships across the health and care sector, but particularly noteworthy affiliates include:

  • Christine Bennett an amazing leader who has been instrumental in the establishment of many Australia health initiatives, a specialist paediatrician, and trailblazer for women in health and academia. 
  • Neville Board Victoria’s Chief Digital Health Officer, registered nurse and leading digital health strategist, placing the person at the centre of innovation;
  • Amandeep Hansra a leading Australian innovator, entrepreneur, and general practitioner, and a graduate and advocate of the RMIT Digital Health Hub training program;
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