Science guru and breakfast radio presenter Adam Spencer has described it as "The New Inventors meets The Apprentice meets ER".
It may sound like the latest reality TV venture, but Spencer is referring to the new Medical Devices Fund being launched by the NSW government, with scientists, researchers and inventors invited to submit their ideas for new medical devices and technologies.
The government has committed $8 million to the fund until the end of its first year in 2013 – with $5 million committed each year after that – in the hope of finding proposals for major medical innovations in line with past breakthroughs like the cochlear implant.
Spencer, who will be part of an expert panel chaired by the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, Professor Mary O'Kane, said the panel would be looking for innovations that could change the lives of patients and their families.
"I plan to play devil's advocate as the panel goes through the submissions, while being blown away by some of the very clever proposals I'm sure we will receive," he said.
Applications should support the development as well as the commercialisation of devices, which Spencer said provided a unique opportunity.
"I've never met a researcher or scientist who said there's many opportunities for this kind of stuff," he said. "This is an opportunity for innovations that will make a genuine impact."
The NSW Minister for Medical Research, Jillian Skinner, said the fund would allow individuals, public and private hospitals, medical research institutes, universities, other public-sector research organisations and the medical devices industry to take their innovations to a worldwide market.
"I've been blessed to have been with families when their child's cochlear implants were turned on for the first time," she said.
"It's these kinds of life-changing innovations that we want to see created, developed and supported."
Project applications for the Medical Devices Fund will open today.