Andrews has also returned as the Australian distributor of a medical product he helped to design and develop in the US with a local client. Called the ActiveECG™, it is a portable three-lead heart-monitoring device. Tethered to a Palm Pilot, nurses and ambulance officers can record a quick basic read out to assess a patient’s cardiac status. Andrews hopes the product will also have applications in home health, sports medicine and veterinary care. 

As product development group manager at GE Fitch’s Boston office for three years, Andrews worked with many large global manufacturers of medical products.  But unlike smaller Australian design consultancies, there were twenty designers in GE Fitch, working across many disciplines. 

“Boston is a major centre for medical research and development in the US so most of my work was in that field,” Andrews said.

As a senior design consultant, Andrews was frequently asked to participate in the evaluation of new product submissions made to large US medical corporations.

As a member of the evaluation panels he saw many Australian companies present their ideas only to be disappointed.

“At times it was frustrating to see Australian companies present their innovations only to be ‘gobbled up’ for next to nothing because they weren’t presented well, or they weren’t evaluated through basic testing and prototyping,” he said.

“On one occasion a wonderful innovation was purchased by a US company, but the product was actually a threat to its own top line product. They encouraged the Australian group to ‘come on board’, bought the rights outright and then shelved the idea.”

In a word of warning to Australia’s inventors and designers, Andrews said he was amazed to witness the hard work dismissed so easily.

“It just shook me to see how years of hard work could just be boxed so quickly,” said Andrews.

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