2011 Vic Award

6 July 2011 Melbourne

Rick Harvey, Dr Elaine Saunders and Hon Gordon Rich-Phillips MLCRick Harvey, Dr Elaine Saunders and Hon Gordon Rich-Phillips MLC

The 2011 Victorian Pearcey Entrepreneur Award was presented to Dr Elaine Saunders as part of the Victorian iAwards ceremony held on Wednesday 6th July in the River Room at Crown, Melbourne.

In presenting this year's award, Victorian Minister for Technology, the Hon Gordon Rich-Phillips MLC, commented that Dr Saunders is a widely recognised pioneer, expert and entrepreneur in technology for the hearing impaired. Rick Harvey, Victorian Charirman of the Pearcey Foundation noted that Dr Saunders is a great example of "taking a risk and making a difference" in the Victorian ICT community and is a great icon for young enthusiasts wishing to make a career in the rapidly growing ICT software industry.

Dr Elaine Saunders

Dr Elaine Saunders is currently Managing Director and Co-founder, Australia Hears Pty. Ltd.

Elaine has a 20 year history in management of research and technology and in commercialisation and international technology licensing. She has worked in public health systems, University research and teaching environments and technology commercialisation and in industry. She successfully spun Dynamic Hearing out of a research institution in 2001, and today the company supplies DSP for ultra-low power chips for the hearing aid and Bluetooth headset industry, where the products are award winning.

Elaine, who is a Churchill Fellow, was winner of the National Telstra Business Woman of the Year competition, 2004 in the Corporate and Government sector; winner of the American Academy of Audiology's 2010 Samuel F. Lybarger Award for Achievement in Industry and Women in Leadership Asia's Leading Woman in Healthcare Award in 2011. She also led the team Cooperative Research Centre team that developed a new electrode for Cochlear Ltd, leading to the company gaining the Australian Design award in 2000.

Elaine has an Honours degree in Science, a Master's Degree in Audiological Science, a PhD in Biomedical engineering, has a Diploma in Technology Management and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Originally from the UK, Elaine has authored a number of papers spanning chemical physics to hearing aid outcomes, a filed patent application and she is the author of a University text book on the development of language for children with hearing loss. Elaine is a founder and Managing Director of Australia Hears Pty Ltd. She is on the Board of the Children's Charity Network and is a member of the Industry Advisory panel for Swinburne University. Until recently Elaine was on the Board of Alfred Health was Director, Industry Engagement for the College of Science, Engineering and Health at RMIT University.

Dr Saunder's Acceptance Speech

Minister, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

Thank-you indeed for this honour.

Thank you to the Pearcey Foundation for your vision and hard work. Thank you to the sponsors of this event. Thank you to Jordan Green who nominated me. Thank you to the teams that have worked with me, especially at Australia Hears where I am now. Thank you to my long suffering family (I have four children) and thank you, of course, to Trevor Pearcey.

There are three and a half million people in Australia who would find life easier with a hearing aid - but about two and a a half million of those people do nothing about it, party because of the cost. And more - hearing loss is associated with feelings of isolation, loneliness, insecurity, mental health issues, depression - it has even been associated with triggering early onset of dementia...

Yes, think about it. Poor hearing disrupts good communication. Often, people over compensate, and dominate conversation or miss key points in debate. This is not an old person's problem. There are people on your table with hearing loss.

We are using ICT to help overcome this problem. And not just in Australia.

A hearing aid is an exceptionally good example of what can be done with ICT. Essentially it's a computer that's about the size of a match head; that runs at 15 MIPS for a week, on a battery a few millimeters in diameter.

By connecting the power of the internet to the power of the computer in the hearing aid, our goal is to held the thousands of people in Australia (and around the world), by markedly reducing the cost of access to high quality self assessed aids, and so help people who would not otherwise be able to get hearing aids.

Somehow I don't think that Trevor Pearcey would be surprised. I have been working in the hearing health, engineering and technology sectors for a long time, and have been very excited to embrace advancements to better peoples lives. My skills lie in recognizing talent in others and putting together clever teams that can use ICT to solve problems - and I've never been let down by any of them.

Thank you to the teams in ICT that have worked with me.

And now, let's help AUSTRALIA HEAR...

Follow-up

Sep 2015 - Dr Elaine Saunders wins one of the Australian Financial Review and Westpac 100 Women of Influence Awards for 2015. Dr Saunders is recognised in the Innovation category for her contribution to hearing aid development, research and education.

June 2016 - Dr Elaine Saunders won the ATSE Clunies Ross Award in the Entrepreneur of the Year Category. Further info at IEAust and ABC.


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