Giving due recognition to health innovation

The health and medical sector is sometimes overlooked in innovation awards, says 40 Under 40 Awards judge and CMAX chief business development officer Zoe Harrison.

Apr 11, 2023, updated Apr 11, 2023

Innovation awards tend to “steer towards innovators and founders” and overlook what is happening within the health and medical sector, said Zoe Harrison who is one of the judges of this year’s InDaily 40 Under 40 Awards.

She said this is in part due to innovation looking different within the sector, compared with the more obvious signals issued by small tech start-ups.

“Sometimes the innovation is happening within larger institutions, such as universities and research facilities. So, it’s important to recognise that,” said Harrison, who is chief business development officer at CMAX Clinical Research.

CMAX specialises in early-phase trials and first-time-in-human studies and is the sponsor of 40 Under 40’s Discovery Award.

CMAX chief business development officer Zoe Harrison is a judge of the 2023 InDaily 40 Under 40 Awards

Harrison is responsible for business development and start-up activities, liaising with biotech companies globally and, in particular, in the United States, China and Korea.

She said the Discovery Award resonates with the company, which has a “predominantly very young workforce” of around 340 people.

“We are very much on board with encouraging and supporting young South Australians to extend themselves and support them to reach all their career objectives,” she said.

She said young leaders bring a fresh perspective that “we all wish we still had” to health research.

“[They are] not afraid to ask the questions that us older people think have already been asked and addressed – when sometimes they haven’t been adequately examined, or they need revisiting.,” she said.

“You need quite a lot of energy as well in this this sector, which is certainly something they bring, [together with] new and flexible ways of thinking about things.”

The Discovery Award was awarded to Joep van Agteren of SAHMRI’s Be Well Co in 2022, with Qi Wu, the director of research at the University of Adelaide’s Institute of Machine Learning taking home the inaugural award in 2021.

Harrison said the focus on building the local health and medical research sector, and its infrastructure in the Adelaide Biomed City and Tonsley, was important in ensuring South Australia continued to help solve current and future health challenges.

Recognition of people working within the sector, she said, was also critical and a reason why CMAX sponsors the Discovery Award.

“The messaging is really important for us – we know that younger people are critical for success of not only our organisation, but our sector here in Australia,” she said.

“So, it’s really a nod to them. It’s encouragement to keep putting themselves forward and know that we can see them and that their efforts are very, very worthwhile and appreciated.”

Winners of this year’s InDaily 40 Under 40 Awards will be announced at a gala night on June 8 at the Adelaide Oval, when twelve of the forty alumni will take home category awards.

Winners will also be featured the print edition of CityMag in June.

Tickets for the gala night go on sale Tuesday, May 2.

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