4 April 2017

Bionic Vision Australia delivers significant health and economic benefits to Australia

Bionic Vision Australia, an Australian Government supported research consortium, has today announced it has secured substantial international investment—$18 million (USD)—into its commercialisation company, Bionic Vision Technologies, to manufacture a bionic eye implant that will produce outcomes of significant health and economic benefit for the Australian community.

Australian Research Council (ARC) Acting Chief Executive Officer, Ms Leanne Harvey, said that the foreign investment into Bionic Vision Technologies—by Hong Kong based company, China Huarong International Holdings Limited, together with State Path Capital Limited BVI—to join with the existing Australian stakeholders to commercialise the bionic eye implant is an impressive example of the translation of publicly funded research into real world economic and social outcomes.

“The Australian Government, through the ARC’s Research in Bionic Vision Science and Technology Initiative, has provided total funding of $50 million to The University of Melbourne to administer Bionic Vision Australia,” said Ms Harvey

“Bionic Vision Australia is an impressive national consortium of researchers—from The University of Melbourne, The University of New South Wales, Western Sydney University, Bionics Institute, Centre for Eye Research Australia, National ICT Australia (now Data61), Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital and National Vision Research Institute—working together to develop bionic eye devices. The aim of this technology is to restore the sense of vision to people with vision impairment.

“Bionic Vision Australia has successfully developed Australia’s research capacity in bionic vision science, undertaking highly innovative and internationally competitive research.

“Bringing together a cross-disciplinary group of world-leading experts, Bionic Vision Australia’s research program has included successful testing in patients of a prototype implant system right through to the development of the implant system now to undergo clinical regulatory testing and commercialisation.

“Through this additional funding, the research of Bionic Vision Australia is set to provide significant health and economic benefits to the Australian community.

“The device, implanted in the rear of the eye (the retina), will initially provide light perception and enable some vision to blind patients with degenerative retinal conditions.

“Furthermore, the investment will allow Bionic Vision Australia to harness Australia's existing world-class manufacturing expertise to produce this life changing device.”

More details about Bionic Vision Australia and Bionic Vision Technologies is available from their corresponding websites.

More details about the schemes of the ARC’s National Competitive Grants Program, including the ARC’s Special Research Initiatives scheme, is available from the ARC website.

Media contact
Bionic Vision Australia, Professor Anthony Burkitt, 0422 960 880 or aburkitt@unimelb.edu.au

ARC Stakeholder Relations, Ms Kathie Dent, 0412 623 056 or communications@arc.gov.au