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Portland Orthopaedics collaborated successfully with CSIRO.

Joint action: Portland Orthopaedics and CSIRO develop hip replacement technology

With CSIRO support and engagement, the Australian enterprise Portland Orthopaedics has gone from strength to strength.

  • 26 September 2008 | Updated 14 October 2011

Established in Sydney in 1991, Portland Orthopaedics began as a single product business. Since then it has listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, established overseas offices in Michigan and London and progressed towards becoming a multiproduct joint replacement company.

CSIRO collaboration

There has been some help along the way, notably from the CSIRO. The NSW Department of State and Regional Development, AusIndustry and Austrade have also provided financial assistance for business development and export initiatives. The CSIRO connection goes back to the mid 1990s when Portland founder Dr Ron Sekel, a leading orthopaedic surgeon, approached Australia’s national science agency for assistance in developing their manufacturing technology.

“CSIRO's expertise and government support programs have been key factors in our company's achievements so far.”
Dr Ron Sekel, founder Portland Orthopaedics

'We could have sourced the technology from overseas', says Dr Sekel, 'but Portland wanted to remain Australian-owned, Australian-made. CSIRO’s materials science team worked with us to develop world-class hydroxyapatite plasma spray coating technology, which provides a synthetic bone interface for prosthetic hip and knee implants. This biocompatible coating is sprayed on the prosthesis and, because its properties are similar to those of natural bone, it helps with re-establishing joint movement.'

Support from the NSW Department of State and Regional Development came through the BioBusiness Program, which gives eligible companies direct financial assistance with non-research establishment and business acceleration costs and subsidises leadership skills training.

Fast forward to 2008 and Portland is earning 75 per cent of sales revenue overseas and has regulatory approval for its products in the US, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

'CSIRO’s expertise and government support programs have been key factors in our company’s achievements so far,' acknowledges Dr Sekel.

SME engagement

'Research collaboration with small to medium companies such as Portland Orthopaedics is a vital part of CSIRO’s role,' according to Mr Greg Redden, Executive Manager, SME Engagement with CSIRO.

'As this example illustrates, we have the world-class innovation and development expertise to help position local companies as global leaders in their industry.'

'We encourage innovative small to medium companies to engage with CSIRO to explore opportunities to transform their product and process technologies.'

Find out more about CSIRO’s Small and medium enterprise engagement centre.