Australian government sinks AU$19 million into AI health research projects

The funding will be divvied up between five research projects.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

The Australian government has announced it will invest AU$19 million over three years into artificial intelligence-based health research projects designed to prevent, diagnose, and treat a range of health conditions.

There are five projects in total that will receive funding as part of this announcement.

The Centre for Eye Research Australia and the University of New South Wales (UNSW) will each receive nearly AU$5 million for their research projects.

The Centre for Eye Research Australia has developed an AI system to detect eye and cardiovascular diseases, while UNSW is focused on using AI to understand and improve the treatment of mental health, including stress, anxiety, and depression.

Another AU$7 million is being put towards two projects developed by the University of Sydney (USyd). One is about translating AI networks to support clinical work in neuro diseases.

The second USyd-led project is focused on using machine learning to improve youth mental health, with the aim to ultimately shorten trial periods where some are provided with non-optimal treatments for their conditions.

"This project will use AI to test and quantify the impacts of youth mental health interventions and as a result support the development of an ethical clinical decision-support tool that identifies how to target assessment and interventions to optimise outcomes for individuals presenting for mental health care," Minister for Health Greg Hunt said.

"AI will be used to understand which interventions, or components of therapies provide the vital, active ingredients, and why they are more effective for some patients and not others."

See also: AI is helping get medical research into the hands of doctors and patients (TechRepublic)

The remaining fund of just over AU$2 million will be shared with St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research that is using AI to potentially change breast cancer screening.

Elsewhere, the Victorian government has made a AU$1.5 million contribution to help Boab AI and Artesian establish an accelerator and investment fund for AI scaleups.

"This funding will help to position Victoria as a leading destination for AI technology within the Asia Pacific region, attracting and developing the best talent, investment and AI expertise," Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy Jaala Pulford said.

Set to be rolled out by the end of the year, the new accelerator program will establish an AI internship program and run AI-focused events.

Additionally, the Victorian government said Artesian will invest a minimum of AU$8 million of private sector capital in 32 AI scaleups, with a minimum of AU$300,000 for each scaleup that graduates from the Boab AI program.

Artesian will also establish and raise a new venture capital fund with a target of AU$50 million to provide ongoing investment support for AI scaleups.

Over at Western Australia, the state government has splashed out on a new AU$1.5 million medical cardiovascular x-ray system that has been installed at the Royal Perth Hospital (RPH).

The Western Australian government said the Artis Icono system will allow cardiologists make faster decisions more accurately during critical procedures, including implants for the treatment of heart attacks, pacemaker, and other device implants used for cardiac procedures. The system is also touted to allow patients to receive accurate results faster.

"It is essential to ensure our hospitals are using modern and effective technology to complete important tests and procedures and review in a timely manner because it improves patient outcomes," health minister Roger Cook said.

"Royal Perth Hospital is the only site in Western Australia to have installed the Artis Icono system which will bring significant benefits to many patients across our state."

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