Startup Project Milk has won the 2019 Swinburne Innovation Precinct Venture Cup, securing $20,000 in seed funding to support the development of its new breast pump design.
Now in its 20th year, Venture Cup is an annual business pitching competition.
Startup co-founder and engineer, Alexandra Sinickas, began Project Milk after the birth of her daughter. Ms Sinickas expressed breast milk for her baby, but the pumps she used hurt and didn’t collect much milk. After speaking to other mums, she discovered she wasn’t alone.
“I saw this as an opportunity to improve the way we design and use breast pumps,” says Ms Sinickas.
“I also had months of late nights and early mornings with my baby to dwell on how I might do that, and who I might ask to help.”
Project Milk’s new take on the breast pump will help improve the experience of expressing by allowing mums to express more milk with less pain and discomfort.
“We want mums to benefit from the power of breast pumps without pain, discomfort or stress,” says Ms Sinickas.
“We’d love to help them spend less time pumping and more time with their babies, or catching up on sleep.”
Next for Project Milk
Ms Sinickas and her team – including doctor, Andrew Mason; Design Factory Melbourne’s Prototyping Coach, Ravi Bessabava; and Swinburne Faculty of Health, Arts and Design Innovation Fellow, Daniel Prohasky – have used 3D printing to create prototypes and are now testing the design on mums. However, to ensure they have the best possible product, they need to undertake more testing of their design, materials and business model, as well as secure the necessary approvals.
Project Milk hope to launch its reimagined breast pump by mid-2020.
“Once we’re satisfied, we need to move from prototyping to production with a manufacturer,” says Ms Sinickas.
“Our goal is to have our first products available to mums by mid next year.”
“The $20,000 will help us get started with all of this.”
People’s Choice Award
Startup ConstructAR – pitched by Dr Gregory Quinn from Swinburne’s Department of Architectural and Industrial Design – was the crowd favourite, receiving the People’s Choice Award.
ConstructAR is a teaching aide for science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects in secondary, vocational and higher education. Using augmented reality (AR), ConstructAR allows users to design, build and physically interact with structural and mechanical systems.
This provides users with fast and effective insights into the subject matter, which deepens intuition in a fun and engaging way.
Swinburne Innovation Precinct Advisory Board Chair, Dr Elaine Saunders, presents the 2019 Venture Cup People's Choice Award to Swinburne Architectual Engineer, Dr Gregory Quinn.
Eleven startups participated in this year’s Venture Cup, hosted at Good Sheds North in Docklands on 17 October.
The competition showcased a mix of startups, from a smartphone program that allows users to safely identify chemical in their environment, to an electric, single-person vehicle that reduces congestion, environmental impact and running costs.
Each of the teams received one-on-one coaching from the Innovation Precinct and experienced entrepreneurs in the lead up to their pitch.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Development), Professor Aleksandar Subic, said Venture Cup is an important component of Swinburne’s commitment to supporting innovation and entrepreneurship.
“Venture Cup is one of our key programs supporting Swinburne’s mission of creating social and economic impact through research led innovation, translation and commercialisation. Developing and nurturing our researchers and students as entrepreneurs who are able to make a positive contribution to growing our innovation ecosystem is critical to this mission,” says Professor Subic.
”The many unique ideas presented at this year’s competition marking the 20th anniversary of the Swinburne Venture Cup, provide an excellent platform for further development of innovative products and services, as well as for creation of new startups and joint ventures.”