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Research and Development Tax Incentive Program case study: Micro-X Limited

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Publication Date: 
October 2020
Case study from: Industry Innovation and Science Australia annual reports

Micro-X Limited saw the opportunity to use carbon nano-tube technology in mobile X-ray carts. This improves the portability and use of these carts for the following markets:

  • medical
  • security
  • defence

Micro-X is in the research and development stage. They are moving toward manufacturing stage for their first product. The product is a novel medical mobile X-Ray cart.

Their aim is to use carbon nano-tube technology and apply it to make X-ray carts. This makes them more mobile and light weight. It reduces the weight of the cart from 400-600 kg to 100 kg.

From a medical point of view, this product will significantly increase workflow. It means people in hospitals and in aged care who need X-rays will have shorter waiting times. When required, the X-ray cart can be brought to the hospital room instead of moving patients to the X-ray room.

Micro-X is also testing the effectiveness of this technology for the defence and security fields. It focuses around explosives detection.

One of the key aims of this technology is creating the ability to detect explosives. This means personnel do not need to be sent out. This will save lives.

"This could save lives by reducing risk when trying to find out what is in a package.” - Micro-X CFO Georgina Carpendale

Initially the business outsourced the engineering expertise. Recently the team has expanded to 23 from a team of two in September 2015.

Due to this expansion, Micro-X are developing their engineering capabilities internally. They will manage the different engineering disciplines required themselves.

Micro-X outsource part of their engineering expertise to the Australian based company Hydrix. They also outsource other elements as well including:

  • sourcing of materials
  • regulatory expertise
  • expertise to create this novel product

Micro-X have an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) agreement with United States Company Carestream Medical. This gives them global distribution and naming rights to the mobile X-ray cart. Micro-X worked closely with the company to develop a product that is appropriate for the market. It is consistent with what radiographers are looking for in the product. This includes ergonomics to workflow.

The cart will also use Carestream Medical software. Most hospitals are currently using this. Through this partnership Micro-X is able to penetrate the market. This is despite them being a small player in an industry with a high barrier to entry.

How the Research and Development Tax Incentive helped

Since 2012, Micro-X has been researching uses of the technology in different ways.

The Research and Development Tax Incentive (RDTI) has enabled Micro-X to develop relationships with Hydrix. It also helped create relationships with other organisations within the supply chain. They previously had not been in this space before. These relationships helped them to produce items that had not existed before. Around 90 percent of Micro-X suppliers are local or interstate.

Micro-X have also developed relationships with post-graduate researchers at Flinders University in South Australia. Micro-X employees share knowledge through lectures at the university. The organisations also work together to develop knowledge through research in the area.

“Especially for the Australian economy there are companies here that have ground-breaking technology and without the RDTI would have been very, very difficult to bring it to market and [the question of] whether we would even be able to do it in Australia or not.” Georgina Carpendale, CFO, Micro-X Ltd

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