Thursday, May 6th, 2010
Victoria is establishing its first bioelectronics laboratory that will play a lead role in the development of an advanced bionic eye, Innovation Minister Gavin Jennings announced today.

The laboratory, being set up by NICTA’s Victoria Research Laboratory – Australia’s Information and Communications Technology Research Centre of Excellence – will design and test the advanced electronics included in the bionic eye, enabling patients to recognise faces and read large print.

The new facility, to be located at NICTA’s Victoria Research Lab at the University of Melbourne, will become the leading bioelectronics laboratory in the Asia Pacific region.

Mr Jennings said the Brumby Labor Government had invested $28 million into NICTA since 2004 as part of its commitment to developing cutting-edge infrastructure and establishing Melbourne as one of five leading global biotechnology hubs.

“The Brumby Labor Government is taking action to ensure our innovation sector remains a world-leader. This high-quality facility will be of great benefit to Victoria and will further support our world-renowned science-related infrastructure such as the Australian Synchrotron,” Mr Jennings said.

”By supporting our world-leading scientists we assist them in finding solutions that improve our health and wellbeing as well as create jobs for Victorian families.”

The laboratory will feature cutting edge computer software tools and state-of-the-art circuit test and measurement equipment. The laboratory will also have access to the most advanced fabrication technology through partnerships with leaders in the global semiconductor industry.

The facility’s first project will be to design the advanced electronics behind the second prototype device to be developed by Bionic Vision Australia. The Brumby Labor Government gave $60,000 in grants to BVA to assist in developing a business plan to secure Federal Government funding for their project. It is estimated that 90 jobs will be created and the $70 million spent in Victoria as a direct result of this investment.

“Through this laboratory, NICTA will be making an important and valuable contribution in training the next generation of engineers who will be working at the forefront of developing new and disruptive technologies that have the potential to benefit people,” Mr Jennings said.

The announcement coincides with BIO2010 in Chicago, USA where the Governor of Victoria, Professor David de Kretser AC, is leading a Victorian consortium of investors and biotechnology companies. NICTA will be attending BIO 2010 to highlight the depth and diversity of bioelectronics and ICT-focused research in the life sciences in Victoria.

As well as highlighting the Bionic Vision Australia project at BIO, NICTA will showcase other collaborations including a cancer cell tracking initiative developed in association with the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research and software tools developed in conjunction with the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre that utilise molecular tissue markers for cancer diagnosis and the prediction of responses to treatment.

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Lyall Johnson

P: + 61 3 9651 5799


NICTA, bioelectronics laboratory, Victoria, bionic eye



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