THIS ADELAIDE-BASED MEDTECH START-UP HAS FOUND GLOBAL RECOGNITION WITH MORE EFFICIENT, SAFER AND AFFORDABLE DRUG DELIVERY METHODS.
SPACE RESEARCH FOR REAL-WORLD PROBLEMS
Pushing the boundaries of medical research all the way into orbit, Numedico’s latest business venture is a partnership with satellite infrastructure provider ResearchSat to explore newmethods to administer medication. The extreme environment in space with its microgravity and intense radiation creates results that cannot be replicated on earth, greatly accelerating the time it takes to develop, refine and then apply alternative ways in how drugs are delivered and digested.
While this process usually takes about ten years, completing it in half the time could have massive advantages in terms of affordability and accessibility. And despite the sci-fi methods, Numedico’s ultimate objective is to transform the lives and health of the millions of people who administer medication every day. This includes diabetics and patients who suffer from high blood pressure—imagine what it would mean to them if they could have an injection once a month instead of once a day, and at a fraction of today’s costs.
INNOVATION TO IMPROVE EVERYDAY PRODUCTS
Other developments in Numedico’s pipeline may be more down to earth, but they follow the same innovative, can-do approach. As Neville Calvert, Founder and CEO, explains, “We are dealing in innovation, not invention. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel but to take something that’s already there and make it better, smarter and cheaper.” Something as simple and ubiquitous as a syringe, for example.
In an effort to increase cost efficiency in administering Covid vaccines, US President Joe Biden urged medical staff to look for syringes with the lowest ‘dead space’, which is the small amount of liquid left over after patients have been given their shots. This wastage means that a vial of seven doses often only stretches to five or six patients. Numedico is currently trialling a more efficient safety syringe, equipped with the company’s own patented TrueZero™ technology and capable of injecting drugs at a rate of nearly 100% (almost 0% wastage). For a cancer patient whose treatment costs thousands of dollars, this amounts to significant savings. In addition to these financial advantages, the system is also more sustainable as it minimises waste.
BASED IN ADELAIDE, FOCUSED ON THE WORLD
Neville Calvert, a lifelong entrepreneur, founded Numedico back in 2016 out of concerns about the imminent closure of the Holden car factory in Elizabeth. “18,000 people were going to lose their jobs,” he remembers; “these people needed somewhere to go.” Calvert chose the medical industry because Jay Weatherill, then Premier of South Australia, had plans to make the state a centre for medical manufacturing. While changes in government meant these plans weren’t followed through, the sentiment has given rise to a locally based medical technology company who is now improving the lives of healthcare workers and patients across the world.
With safety and sustainability as key priorities, Numedico started producing safety syringes with retractable needles. These syringes are typical of Numedico’s quest to develop highly utilitarian medical devices. They are easy to use, intuitive, simple and safe—creating their own sharps container around the retractable needle after use, thus preventing any needlestick injuries. This has been a welcome safety measure for healthcare workers who are prone to these sometimes-hazardous injuries.
After constant efforts to evolve to meet market needs, the company won a large contract with the California Department of Public Health to supply and transport diagnostic equipment for Covid. Numedico is a globally focused company and has an established market across the world today, with 99% of their products sold outside Australia. Neville Calvert, however, still describes his company as a “start-up, continuously innovating by partnering with organisations in other fields”—such as AI or space technology.
AN OPPORTUNITY TO DO GOOD
There is humility in Calvert’s choice of words—and a desire to make a difference in an industry that often seems to be focused more on making a profit. “If you think you’re there, you’re never ever there,” he explains of his dedication.
Numedico wants to challenge the status quo in the world of Big Pharma. In doing so, a huge emphasis is put on partnerships with other innovators, often from completely different sectors, resulting in mutually beneficial and eminently practical solutions.
The four key elements to innovation—collaboration, ideation, implementation and value creation—are present in all of Numedico’s activities and are essential to the company’s success, but they are always driven by Calvert’s dedication to help people by finding ways to save money and resources. Ultimately, patients benefit from cheaper drugs delivered more safely, while health systems benefit from reduced waste and expenses by freeing up funds for other causes.
A GREAT STATE TO BUILD A BUSINESS
With virtually all their products being sold on foreign markets, Numedico would be forgiven for relocating to a more central location overseas. But Neville Calvert seems to have taken SA’s tourism slogan to heart, insisting that this is a great place from which to build a business.
Yes, they do have offices in the US, the UK and Malaysia, but the head office remains right here in Adelaide. And while the company’s innovators are sent overseas to research the market and meet with stakeholders from across the world, they are encouraged to export the local corporate culture and company values everywhere they go.
With patient shareholders and amazing supply chain partners, Calvert has built a business model which can hold its own on a global scale. However, he does see further opportunities for others to add depth to Adelaide’s investment environment by researching the market environment of other countries and adapting their offerings accordingly.
SUCCESS IS RECOGNISED
Based on their first and main product on the market, the ClickZip™ safety syringe range, Numedico has received its fair share of international recognition. 2021 was a particularly successful year for the company, having been named as one of the ‘50 Most Influential Companies’ by CEO Views, listed as one of the ‘30 Most Fabulous Companies of the Year’ by The Silicon Review and voted in the ‘Top 10 Medtech Start-ups in Asia.
VISION FOR THE FUTURE
But if their CEO’s mindset is anything to go by, Numedico puts a lot less stock in what was, than in what lies ahead. Using the collaboration with ResearchSat as a platform to develop their own drugs and partnering with other drug development companies, the company has identified disease prevention as another area of opportunity. Future collaborative efforts will include nano-manufacturing technologies focused on early intervention for ovarian and endometrial cancer as well as technologies to counteract antibiotic resistance.
“Based on our company values such as common sense, curiosity and creativity, our vision is to focus on safety and sustainability,” says Calvert, “challenging ourselves to be better tomorrow than we are today.