SAN DIEGO AND MELBOURNE – Invetech, an innovator in new product development for the biomedical, industrial and consumer markets, and San Diego based start-up company Organovo, have been awarded the prestigious 2011 Australian Engineering Innovation Excellence Award from Engineers Australia for the development of the world’s first commercial 3D Bioprinter for human tissue repair and organ replacement.
The win, which follows the 2011 Award of Excellence in Research & Development awarded in November by the Victoria Division of Engineers Australia, was presented at a ceremony at Parliament House in the nation’s capital and recognizes companies from around the world that lead the way with innovation and inspire others to bring new ideas to life.
In bestowing the award, Senator The Hon Kim Carr, Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, said that Invetech and Organovo’s success showed the power of innovation and its ability to have a real impact on human life.
Senator Carr stated, “The Engineering Innovation Award recognizes a project’s potential contribution to the national economy and the impact of its R&D. Invetech and Organovo are a great example of what innovation can do.”
He continued, “For decades the goal of tissue engineers has been to advance beyond simple cell cultures to creating three-dimensional organs. This partnership took just nine months to solve these engineering challenges and design, develop, manufacture and ship the world’s first commercial 3D Bioprinter. I congratulate Invetech and Organovo.”
Invetech was selected by Organovo in May 2009 to design and develop a highly integrated, extremely reliable and simple to use 3D bio-printer system, which could then be transferred to manufacture and commercial sale. Because of its history with precision design, robotics and manufacturing products, Invetech was able to combine prior art with new ideas to come up with a development plan that met Organovo’s design, budget and timeline goals. The process advanced smoothly and on schedule with Invetech teams in Melbourne and its San Diego office, not far from the Organovo office.
Delighted with the win, Keith Murphy, CEO of Organovo, said, “By working with Invetech we have been able to produce a truly breakthrough instrument. For the first time, we can provide a flexible technology platform for organizations working on many different types of tissue and organ construction for research and medical applications.”
The printer fits inside a standard biosafety cabinet for sterile use. It includes two print heads; one for placing human cells, and the other for placing a hydrogel, scaffold, or support matrix. One of the most complex challenges in the development of the printer was being able to repeatedly position the capillary tip, attached to the print head, to within microns. This was essential to ensure that the cells are placed in exactly the right position. Invetech developed a computer controlled, laser-based calibration system to achieve the required repeatability.
Mr. Murphy continued, “Invetech’s innovation process is a clever combination of technology and science that made it possible to develop an instrument to improve people’s lives and make regenerative medicine accessible to anyone around the world.”