National science prize for Melbourne hearing aid revolutionary Elaine Saunders
- Photos below or watch the video (from ATSE): www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3jvfFoXIRc
- Official media release from ATSE: www.scienceinpublic.com.au/media-releases/atse-release
- More information in the backgrounder or at www.blameysaunders.com.au
Four million Australians, young and old, need a hearing aid. Without one they’re at risk of losing their friends, their partner, their job and their sanity. But price, stigma and the loss of control when we see an audiologist are amongst the factors that stop most people from acting.
Elaine Saunders has changed that for tens of thousands of Australians.
She and her team have built on Australia’s bionic ear technologies to create a system where you can:
- Test your hearing online.
- Buy your hearing aid online and receive it set up ready for you.
- Adjust the hearing aid with your smartphone while you’re at the pub, watching TV, or dancing.
The result: people who are empowered to manage their own hearing, and get the result they want. Experts/audiologists are still available – online, on the phone, or at a clinic – but only when you need them.
Elaine will receive the 2016 ATSE Clunies Ross Award for Entrepreneur of the Year on Wednesday 15 June 2016 at the annual award dinner at Sydney’s Sofitel Wentworth Hotel.
But she’s not finished – there are still over three million people to reach. So now she’s:
- Making the hearing aid available for purchase from chemists, with a trial now on at the Ulladulla branch of Capital Chemist, with another location in Canberra starting within weeks.
- Developing a modular hearing aid – where there’s no fiddly battery.
- Planning to manufacture the new hearing aids in Melbourne with Extel Technologies.
“Most hearing aids in Australia are made by global companies who make hearing aids that appeal to audiologists. We make hearing aids for people. If the industry took our approach Australia could cut the cost of hearing health care by approximately 70 percent,” says Elaine.
“What we’ve done for hearing is possible in many other health fields,” she says. “Clinicians need to realise that the world has changed. People want to own their hearing, their treatment, their health record.”
“However, it takes entrepreneurship and a thick skin to get more innovation in health research and delivery,” said Elaine. “Thankfully, many people have helped us on the journey including the Australian and Victorian governments initially for the bionic ear and now through Accelerating Commercialisation and the Victorian government’s technology vouchers.”
“Elaine’s inspiring leadership ensures the success of the project and will keep Australia at the forefront of hearing aid and teleaudiology innovation for years to come,” says her co-founder and Technology Director, Peter Blamey.
The ATSE Clunies Ross Awards have been awarded since 1991. Past winners include: Ian Frazer, Fiona Wood, Alan Finkel, Barry Marshall, bionic ear pioneer Graeme Clark, and Peter Blamey – the co-founder of Blamey Saunders hears.
Elaine is only the ninth woman amongst the 160 winners to date.
The other Clunies Ross winners are:
- Creating plastic car mirrors for mass markets: Peter Murphy, from University of South Australia.
- Creating and commercialising new drugs for chronic pain: Maree Smith, from University of Queensland.
For interviews contact:
- Elaine Saunders (Blamey Saunders hears), 0400 670 421 or 0417 837 083, email@example.com
- Niall Byrne, 0417 131 977, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Toni Stevens, 0401 763 130, email@example.com
- For the Clunies Ross Awards contact Cathy Reade, Media Liaison, 0413-575-934 firstname.lastname@example.org
Backgrounder, photos and video online at: www.scienceinpublic.com.au/blameysaunders
Take the test, and more about Blamey Saunders hears at: www.blameysaunders.com.au
The ATSE Clunies Ross Awards are given in recognition of the outstanding application of science and technology that provides economic, social and/or environmental benefit to Australia and have become one of the pre-eminent awards for scientists, technologists and innovators across Australia, recognising the achievements of many special people.