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CERA welcomes bionic vision funding

Robert Klupacs chairman of BVT, Dr Carla Abbott and Julie Anne Quinn

Robert Klupacs chairman of BVT, Dr Carla Abbott and Julie Anne Quinn General Manager BVT

The Centre for Eye Research Australia has warmly welcomed the news that Bionic Vision Technologies (BVT) has raised $US18 million from Hong Kong-based China Huarong International Holdings Ltd and State Path Capital Limited, to develop and commercialise its next generation devices aimed at restoring vision to the blind.

This financing formally launches BVT as it transitions to a commercialisation stage business. To date, the development of Australia’s ‘bionic eye’ has been funded through a six-year AU$50 million Special Research Initiative grant to Bionic Vision Australia administered by the Australian Research Council, and a three-year project grant to Associate Professor Penelope Allen administered by the National Health Medical Research Council.

The Centre for Eye Research Australia is a key member of the Bionic Vision Australia (BVA) consortium, whose organisations become shareholders alongside the new investors. The other investors in the consortium are the University of Melbourne, the University of New South Wales, the Bionics Institute, CSIRO’s Data 61, The Royal Victorian Eye & Ear Hospital, Western Sydney University, and the Australian College of Optometry.

“This funding means our bionic eye technology can be progressed from the lab to the home,” said Associate Professor Allen the Chief Vitreoretinal Surgeon with the CERA team involved in the research.

“We are excited to be embarking on this new phase of our research which builds on our prototype clinical study of three patients conducted in 2012-2014 and it is great to be able to offer some hope to this group of profoundly visually impaired patients with inherited retinal degeneration, who make up the largest cause of blindness in working age people,” she said.

Integral to this work is CERA’s collaboration with the Bionics Institute, Data 61 and the University of Melbourne.