Eye health win from 5G starter fund

Eye health won big in this year’s edition of the Spark 5G Starter Fund challenge, with oDocs Eye Care and Objective Acuity securing a share of $625,000 alongside two other innovative New Zealand businesses.


Dr Sheng Chiong Hong, oDocs Eye Care founder and CEO, said his team was delighted to be named a winner. “We are super excited and relieved at the same time. The pitching process was fairly intimidating and nerve wracking, think shark tank/dragon's den style with judges sitting right in front of you and asking you tough questions. The win is humbling, and we have learnt a lot about ourselves and our business directions.”


The award will accelerate oDocs planned production of its real-time remote eyecare service by at least nine months, said Dr Hong. “We will be able to roll out a full-scale, fully functional teleophthalmology service nationwide by the end of 2021. 5G technology will allow faster and higher quality transmission of video consultations for our teleophthalmology platform users.”


Objective Acuity, co-founded by Dr Jason Turuwhenua, a senior research fellow at Auckland University, has developed a suite of software-based vision screening and vision tests that are more accessible and accurate for detecting vision problems early in younger children. CEO Adam Podmore said the team was also very excited about the win. “It is great recognition for Objective Acuity and provides us with an opportunity to accelerate our very innovative 5G solution and roll-out our tests in New Zealand and globally.”


Objective Acuity’s vision screening test is currently undergoing clinical studies with 200 children and is scheduled for launch in the second half of 2021 in New Zealand.


To win, Spark 5G Starter Fund contenders had to demonstrate how 5G is an enabling technology with the potential to solve some of today’s biggest problems. The winners were selected from more than 200 entries spanning four categories: Next Gen Health, Good for New Zealand, Industry Disruptors and Immersive Experiences. The Supreme winner, robotic company Rocos, was awarded $250,000, while gaming tech firm Beyond, Objective Acuity and oDocs Eye Care each received $125,000 plus access to co-lab and Spark mentoring and support.


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