Dr Brad Miles has come a long way since graduating in 2003 as one of just 12 biomedical engineering students at the University of Sydney.
Based in Sydney's leafy north-west, 360 Knee Systems (360KS) focuses on improving patient outcomes for total knee replacements.
Using pre-operative patient profiling and customised 3D surgical plans, the 360KS team works with each orthopaedic surgeon to ensure the accurate and precise placement of the prosthetics. Post-surgery the patient is then monitored using wearable sensors linked to a data analytics platform to ensure that their recovery is targeted and measured.
Since 2003, the number of knee replacement procedures undertaken in Australia each year has increased by 101.5% to almost 58,0001.
With the majority of these patients over 55 and Australia's ever-aging population, it's a growing local market. Miles and business partner Bede O'Connor, however, have distribution in the much-larger US market on their agenda.
"The population demographics and market drivers in the USA are not dissimilar to those in the Australian joint replacement market", says Miles. "And given that the US market accounts for over half the world's total joint replacement sales, it's the obvious place to take our technology and make it succeed."
This is not the pair's first experience in taking technology to a global audience. Their first start-up together, Optimized Ortho set the model for providing surgeons with dynamic, functional and patient-specific solutions for both hip and knee replacements. The company now has teams in the United Kingdom and the USA as well as Sydney and exports to every major market in the world.
Having sold Optimized Ortho to UK company, Corin in November 2014, Miles and O'Connor were ready to take on a new challenge.
"It's a gutsy move to leave the comfort and financial security of big business to go out on your own", says O'Connor. Both he and Miles put the funds earmarked as a deposit on their respective new homes into starting up 360KS, a move which initially received mixed reactions from their wives.
The duo believe that their complementary skillsets – Miles in research and development and O'Connor in sales, marketing and logistics – is what has contributed to their success to date.
"The future of the Australian biomedical engineering industry relies heavily on research and development and process innovation. This is where the industry is focusing its attention. The reality is that traditional manufacturing skills can be accessed more economically in Asia." says Miles.
If he had enrolled in biomedical engineering at the University of Sydney this year, Miles would certainly have many more classmates, the majority of them young women. Biomedical is the fastest growing branch of engineering, with young women making up 55% of 2017-commencing students compared with 10–30% for other engineering disciplines.