Ryman Healthcare Keen Sponsor of Healthcare Innovation


The inaugural HealthTech Supernode Challenge, sponsored by Ryman Healthcare, has uncovered some inspiring healthcare solutions.

Rick Davies, Ryman Healthcare’s Head of Technology and Innovation and a judge, said that when the retirement village operator was founded in 1984 innovation was central to the DNA of the company and continues to be so today.

Davies said that the Health Tech Challenge revealed many other innovators such as Richard Shepherd ​and his team from HT Systems. The Christchurch company’s Kera Transfer Aid won the Best Aged Care Solution category as well as a $5,000 prize. The patient lift/hoist (pictured) is a unique transfer system that allows someone with mobility issues to be picked up and moved with the aid of this machine, operated by a single helper.

“It’s an impressive device that has the potential to help the many thousands of New Zealanders that have difficulties with mobility,” Davies explains.

Richard Shepherd said the idea for a mobility system has been around for quite some time, with the concept originally devised by HT Systems director and technical guru Keith Alexander (also the inventor of the Springfree trampoline for children and a professor at the University of Canterbury).

“What happened was about 20 years ago some surgeons at Burwood Hospital actually approached the university and said ‘we’ve got a problem, all our nurses are getting injured, lifting people around'.

“So Keith came up with some concepts, worked it around and in January 2018 we (HT Systems) picked it up and ran with it.

“Essentially the product is designed to make the caregiver's job easier with the person that’s being moved being held in the machine securely and comfortably,” Shepherd added.  The patient lift and transfer mechanism could reduce the number of carers needed to move someone with limited mobility to just one.

Ryman Healthcare was looking forward to exploring opportunities to work alongside the successful innovators from the Healthtech Challenge, such as HT Systems. Ryman was a keen sponsor of the project.

“It’s been a huge effort by all involved in the competition. They’ve proven what tremendous potential there is to harness technology to improve the lives of older people, and it has been an absolute privilege to be involved‘’ said Davies.

Other category winners on the night included teams behind an insulin treatment pump and an implantable sensor system for mending during spinal fusion.

Ryman would continue to have a big role to play in the wider healthcare and innovation sectors.

“We’re incredibly experienced in innovating in ways that improve the lives of older people and we are keen to continue this pursuit, and to support and partner with external suppliers, partners and innovators to achieve the best possible quality of life for our residents.”

​On the awards night Richard McCulloch ​from NextStep, with a ventilation and resuscitator system for newborns, was crowned as the Best Startup Team and the overall winner of the challenge.

Joanna Norris, Chief Executive of ChristchurchNZ and Challenge judge said with an ageing population and uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic requiring constant adaption, healthcare would continue to demand innovative solutions.

Fellow judges, Microbiologist and media commentator Dr Siouxsie Wiles and Ministry of Health Chief Science Advisor Ian Town said they were also impressed by the Healthtech innovations presented for judging.