The UNE SMART Region Incubator (UNE SRI) is pleased to announce that Observa Care, one of the UNE SRI’s Armidale-based founders, has been named the winner of the Health Category and the overall champion of the 2023 Innovate with nbn Grants Program.

The Innovate with nbn Grants Program, in collaboration with the Regional Australia Institute (RAI), aims to enhance digital capabilities for regional Australians. Grant recipients were selected for using nbn to develop products that benefit those living in rural areas.

Observa Care’s innovative approach to remote healthcare and use of wearable tech proved to be a winning combination in the Innovate with nbn Grants Program. 

“For regional and rural Australians, accessing health care services outside metropolitan and major regional centres can be challenging. It can lead to delayed treatment, higher hospitalisation rates and long trips to access care,” said Thomas O’Dea, State Manager NSW – Regional Stakeholder and Community Engagement for nbn Australia.

“Armidale health care service Observa Care is bridging this gap and has a mission to harness the power of digital health technologies to benefit those who live in our most remote communities. For the development of their innovative Remote Patient Monitoring service model, Observa Care was crowned winner of the Health Category and overall champion in the 2023 Innovate with nbn Grants Program,” said Mr O’Dea, speaking about Obersva Care’s win.

Observa Care’s founders, Dr. Rod Martin and Deborah Martin, identified a pressing need during the COVID-19 pandemic, leading them to develop wearable sensors capable of measuring vital signs and overall health status.

These sensors, which are TGA-approved monitoring devices, can measure heart rate, oxygen saturation, blood pressure, temperature, and cardiac output. The real-time data collected is transmitted to clinicians through cloud-based servers, enabling immediate health assessments. 

Observa Care’s technology significantly contributes to overcoming the healthcare gap experienced by the 7 million Australians residing in rural, regional, and remote locations. 

“It was very humbling to receive this recognition, given the calibre of regional innovators nominated for the Innovate with nbn grants,” said Deb Martin, co-founder of Observa Care.

“Observa Care is proudly Armidale-grown, created from a desire to leverage digital technologies to help close the healthcare gap between rural and urban Australia. We are excited to use this award to develop our health service model further for the wider New England / North West region.”

“We are so grateful to the UNE SMART Region Incubator, which we joined as soon as we set up our business, for the opportunity to connect with the people, programs and resources helping us establish and grow our service,” said Mrs Martin.

The UNE SRI  includes a diverse group of health-focused start-ups helping address the unique healthcare challenges of regional communities. Other healthcare founders from the UNE SRI include Birth Beat, PharmOnline, Flexi Health Services, Manage Health, Therapy to Thrive, Still Wellness, Everyday Speech & Play, New England Behaviour Support and Midale Psychology & Consultancy. 

Dr. Lou Conway, Director of the SRI, expressed pride in Observa Care’s achievement, stating, “Their success highlights the significant impact that regional start-ups can have on addressing critical health challenges. Observa Care, among other healthcare start-ups at the UNE SRI, exemplifies what’s possible when innovators tackle real-world problems communities face.”