Fusetec is a cutting-edge additive manufacturing company which utilises the latest 3D technologies while working alongside notable medical professionals to create exacting anatomical models to enhance medical training. It specialises in multi-material replications of specific pathologies such as tumours, broken bones or defective heart valves for pre-operative medical evaluation, education and training. Acquisition International has recognised Fusetec and its revolutionary work for the Most Innovative Additive Manufacturing Company 2021 – Australia award, so we take a closer look at the company and its ground-breaking product.
Fusetec CEO, Mark Roe said, “In the real world, medical students study at university for five years to obtain their degree. During this entire time, surgical students rarely dissect human flesh – these skills are developed during their hospital residency. This means that most first-year surgical residents are performing dissections for the very first time on extremely expensive cadavers, or on real patients at a high-risk to both the patients and the surgical residents.
“So, we decided to manufacture highly realistic human body parts for surgical training purposes. Students learn how to hold a scalpel, how to make a cut, and how to use other medical implements before practising on human beings. Plus, our manufactured body parts don’t have any inherent risks associated with cadavers – there is no bacteria, no strict storage and disposal protocols, and no regulatory burdens. Our medical devices are mass produced, affordable and readily available with pathology on demand. Fusetec is taking medical training out of the 17th century and into the 21st century.”
As a new company, Fusetec has the opportunity to embrace the latest technology available, making research and development the foundation of its corporate culture. The company collaborates with highly respected medical professionals, institutions and universities, continuously evolving additive manufacturing technology to improve medical device applications. Fusetec along with its partners will continue to develop new materials and IP to better simulate the human anatomy.
Mark Roe, along with his business partner, John Budgen founded Fusetec in April 2017, and it had a somewhat unconventional beginning. Mark said, “When I was introduced to advanced manufacturing, the theory behind Industry 4.0 was compelling. I could really see a future in it.
“After spending time researching in the United States, I knocked on the door of Stratasys in Minnesota, and discovered the epicentre of 3D additive manufacturing. I decided I liked their technology and wanted to bring it back to Australia. So, I had the technology, but I needed to find a problem to solve – I was an entrepreneur in search of a problem.”
Once back in Australia, Mark considered the three major manufacturing industries in South Australia: aerospace, defence, and medical. He quickly landed on medical. “By opting to work in the medical industry, we could develop our own IP, with global applications.”
It was then that he began canvassing medical professionals and academia to pinpoint that all-elusive problem to solve. The three most commonly cited issues were lack of cutting guides, medical implants, and patient-specific models. However, he was not keen to pursue a business model based on personalised manufacturing.
“Looking at these advanced manufacturing business models, I just couldn’t make sense of them. Prototyping and personalised manufacturing just weren’t the right fit for us. By developing our own IP, we could mass produce and export 3D advanced additive manufactured human body parts to the world. From a business perspective, this would minimise peaks and troughs in production sales.
“So, I asked myself, what is fundamentally wrong with surgical training? I started a lengthy analysis and found that surgical training is one of the last frontiers in the world that utilises an apprentice-style training model, rather than a systemised approach. Here is the problem that we can solve. So, we bought the world’s best tech and assembled the best R&D team we could find, and Fusetec was born.”
Mark leads the management team and passionately drives the research and development team, collaborating with university, medical professionals and government entities worldwide.
Fusetec co-founder and chief technology officer, John Budgen is an experienced business manager of 25 years and he is responsible for multiple manufacturing sites across Australia servicing many ASX listed companies. He oversees supply chain relationships and is responsible for groupwide technology. With much digital experience, a healthy passion for technology and a strong sales background, he compliments Mark’s entrepreneurial drive.
Combined, they are a formidable team with ambitions to improve medical training from the old school approach of ‘watch one, do one, teach one’, to training with exacting repeatable standards without risk to patients and where mistakes are somewhat encouraged as part of learning.
Mark and John are joined by Richie Bower, a clinical engineer and medical device product manager with extensive business, clinical systems and operations management experience in the Americas, Asia Pacific and European markets. His focus is on high tech industries, particularly medical devices and systems, healthcare imaging and informatics and emerging/breakthrough device/product development and global commercialisation. Richie has held senior operations ranging from privately-owned Australian start-ups to global blue-chip medical device companies. Over the last 20 years, he has been directly responsible for growing and managing business operations internationally, leading and mentoring executive, engineering, operations and project management teams in several complex medical device and system ventures.
Richie leads operations at Fusetec and brings significant recent experience to the executive team in development of global commercialisation and go to market strategies, scaling operations to meet global expansion requirements, capital raising, and provision of executive leadership and team mentorship.
Indeed, Fusetec as quite a team behind it, one that is truly changing the face of medical training, and it continues to innovate, treading into new territory and going where no medical expert has gone before. Fusetec believes that within the next decade, it may be possible to manufacture human organs for transplant, and every aspect of its learning will get it one step closer to this quantum leap forward in healthcare.
For further information, please contact John Budgen or visit www.fusetec.com.au