Posted: 5 May 2022
The innovation and inspiration of three outstanding women in Victoria’s healthtech industry have been recognised with BioMelbourne Network Women in Leadership Awards.
Their work has helped spark industry advancement and inspire others to follow their lead at a critical time in health. All took risks to pursue their goals and advance the sector.
The Hon. Jaala Pulford, Minister for Innovation, Medical Research, and the Digital Economy, presented the 2022 awards at a hybrid event that was held at the Investment Centre Victoria and live streamed.
BioMelbourne Network CEO Jeff Malone said this year’s winners were helping to ensure that Victoria’s healthtech industry continued to innovate and lead the way.
“BioMelbourne Network is honoured to celebrate three extraordinary leaders from across the healthtech industry,” Mr Malone said.
“Their leadership journeys reflect their ability to have meaningful and lasting impact on the sector, while highlighting their strength and determination to overcome the many challenges presented over recent years.”
The 2022 Awardees are:
Distinguished Leadership Award – Dr Emma Ball, Head of Illumina for Startups Australia, Illumina
Emma is a rare find in Australia – a molecular biologist who has worked in academia, start-ups and industry, has extensive experience in commercialisation and is now dedicated to assisting start-ups translate and commercialise their research. She is a champion of the Life Sciences industry and contributes not just to the development of the sector itself but of the people in it.
In addition to her current day job at Illumina, Emma is one of the nation’s most sought-after commercialisation advisors, panellists and investors given her unique skill-set, experience and perspective. She is a board director at Startup Shakeup Ltd, an organisation growing North East Victoria’s start-ups, shakeups and innovators. Emma is also a Victorian State Branch Committee member of Ausbiotech, and a mentor in the Industry Mentoring Network in Stem (IMNIS) program which connects industry leaders with PhD students.
She is a strong advocate for the advancement of women in STEM and is a member of the Springboard Enterprises Life Sciences Council, which supports early-stage female biotech founders and member of Scale Investors, an angel network investing in women entrepreneurs.
Inspiring Leadership Award – George Kenley, Co-Founder & Chief Operating Officer, Seer
George was on maternity leave with her first child in 2017 when she co-founded Seer alongside Dr Dean Freestone and Prof Mark Cook.
In the 5 years since founding, George’s influence and the impact of Seer are undeniable: Seer has fundamentally changed the way epilepsy is diagnosed. By delivering a world-first technology that allows patients to receive long-term diagnostic monitoring from the comfort of their home, patients avoid lengthy, costly and uncomfortable hospital stays.
Seer has also helped to reduce patient wait times for diagnostic monitoring in Australia from between 6-18 months down to 1-6 weeks. To date, Seer has helped over 10,000 patients Australia-wide receive the diagnosis they need to regain control of their health and get on with their lives.
With a network of clinics across Australia – including regional and remote areas – Seer is helping to unlock areas that were previously underserved for epilepsy diagnosis.
George’s leadership at Seer encapsulates strategic risk-taking, embracing innovation, and an appetite for entrepreneurship and driving change. George is an outcomes focused leader and her honesty and pragmatism are valued by all who work with her. George’s ability to balance company ambition and vision with risk and achievability position her well to handle the imminent opportunities in Seer’s future as they expand both in Australia and in new markets.
Emerging Leadership Award – Associate Professor Lauren Ayton, NHMRC Emerging Leader Investigator and Driving Research Momentum Fellow, the University of Melbourne, and the Centre for Eye Research Australia.
A/Prof Lauren Ayton is an emerging global leader in the field of low vison and blindness research. In particular, she has led teams in both academia (Bionic Vision Australia) and industry (Bionic Eye Technologies, USA) to develop vision prostheses (“bionic eyes”) for the blind.
In her current role at the University of Melbourne and Centre for Eye Research Australia, Lauren leads a team investigating inherited retinal diseases, which are the most common cause of legal blindness in working-aged Australians. Her research includes new methods for assessing the eye health and function; evaluation of progression over time; and interventions such as gene therapy. Lauren is also involved in a number of start-up companies developing low vision aids to improve the quality of life for people with low vision.
Lauren is the inaugural Co-Director of the SPARK Melbourne program, which is a research accelerator at the University of Melbourne. SPARK was initiated at Stanford University, and Melbourne is now one of 70 international chapters.
Lauren is also highly involved in professional organisations, including as Board Director for the Australian College of Optometry, and patient advocacy groups, such as Retina Australia.
About BioMelbourne Network
BioMelbourne Network’s mission is to foster the development of an advanced, innovation driven and sustainable health industry. As a for-purpose, industry led membership association, we encompass biotechnology, medical technology, pharmaceuticals, and health innovation companies in the state of Victoria.
We connect business, research, finance, health, and government to support and promote the sector’s growth and facilitate the development and commercialisation of new drugs, devices, diagnostics and digital health technologies in Victoria. Since 2001, we have championed an environment that enables Victorian organisations to innovate, commercialise and improve the future of healthcare locally and internationally.
About the Women in Leadership Awards
The BioMelbourne Network Women in Leadership Awards were launched in 2015 to acknowledge and celebrate women who, at different stages of their careers, have made exceptional contributions to advancing the biotechnology, medical technology, and pharmaceutical sector. Their leadership and commitment to driving change and impact in the health industry make a real difference and inspire more women to pursue leadership roles.
Nicole Pitcher, Office Manager, BioMelbourne Network
Phone: +61 409 182 900
Thank you to the State Government of Victoria, Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions for supporting this Awards Ceremony.