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Woman with brown hair smiling wearing a burgandy top in a motorised wheelchair.

A leading assistive technology company, helping those with degenerative conditions like motor neurone disease (MND) retain their voice, will set up a new state-of-the-art headquarters at Tonsley Innovation District.

Link Assistive, which supplies sensory, interactive, and assistive devices including world-first eye tracking technology in iPads, will move into a custom-built premises later this year, in what will be a major expansion of its Adelaide operations.

Its new headquarters will include space to reconfigure and service a range of assistive technology products for the Australian market, a warehouse to store its growing suite of devices and a cutting-edge sensory play space where children and their carers can trial and test equipment.

Link Assistive Managing Director Bas Tijdhof said the move to Tonsley would allow the company to significantly upscale, with plans to expand its workforce by almost 40% in the next year.

“Having a larger space for Adelaide-based clients to go to experience the technology and have access to our highly skilled team who can work with families and carers and show them the highest quality technology, is an exciting new chapter for us,” Mr Tijdhof said.

“We have an amazing team, and we want to be able to further attract great staff with the move to Tonsley.

“For an innovative business such as ours there is so much opportunity to unlock partnerships at Tonsley, particularly with the small and medium tech businesses and medical businesses that we might be able to work with.”

Link Assistive is one of just two companies in Australia delivering eye gaze technology devices, which allow non-verbal people, or those with severe physical challenges such as Cerebral Palsy, Rett syndrome or spinal injury, to control their environment solely through eye movement.

The precision technology means users can simply move their gaze to open an app on screen or trace out words via a standard qwerty keyboard that can then be converted to speech.

“Your eyes become a replacement for your mouse and keyboard,” Mr Tijdhof said.

In practical terms, the lightweight, durable devices aid the independent completion of everyday tasks such as turning on the TV, while also providing critical communication during a medical emergency. They also help users maintain important emotional connections such as the ability to read a child a bedtime story.

“It really is lifechanging,” Mr Tijdhof said.

“Just like you use a mobile phone, they can text, make a restaurant reservation and do online banking. And on another screen, they can be drafting an email or reading a newspaper.

“It’s their leisure, their education and their interaction.”

Renewal SA Project Director for Tonsley Innovation District, Vincent Rigter, said having a multifaceted business like Link Assistive join the Tonsley district would further add to its flourishing ecosystem of innovation.

“Link Assistive is at the leading edge of utilising globally-sourced technology to provide tangible benefits to those living with a disability,” Mr Rigter said.

“They are supplier, product designer and technology trainer all mixed into one, so by moving to Tonsley they will have the space to unlock their service delivery potential.

“Tonsley’s health, medtech and assistive technology sector is rapidly growing, and we see business thriving, from PPE to X-Ray manufacturing.

“Link Assistive will bring new expertise in this space and we are excited for the opportunities it presents as they leverage their ideas and capabilities off other tech companies and research entities co-located within the precinct.”

Mr Tijdhof said as a NDIS-verified provider, Link Assistive was keen to build upon its connection with Autism SA - which has also chosen Tonsley as its headquarters - having designed and installed a sensory room at its Elizabeth office in the past. Autism SA’s speech pathology team also trial Link Assistive’s communication equipment with their clients regularly.

He said he also saw natural, future partnerships with Flinders University’s Medical Device Partnering Programme and the Tonsley-based Global Centre for Modern Ageing, with many of Link Assistive’s products including ceiling, flooring and table interactive multisensory projection systems having practical and potentially life-changing advantages to older users.

Established in 2008, Link Assistive currently employs nine staff in Adelaide and a further four interstate, including a series of speech pathologists and occupational therapists. It supplies its technologies all over Australia, as well as exporting products to New Zealand and Singapore.

It’s hoped its bigger footprint at Tonsley will not only allow for larger scale importation of assistive technology from Europe, US, and UK but also provide scope for future SA-based manufacturing.

“To source parts more and more locally, that’s the long-term strategy,” Mr Tijdhof said.

“At the moment, if something needs to be fixed or repaired, we have to send it to manufacturers overseas.

“Tonsley will give us the space to increasingly do work ourselves, decreasing turnaround times to get products back to clients and get a better understanding of the manufacturing process.

“We now have quite a big say in the hardware and software, and we are heavily involved in development with our clinical team continuously feeding back data.

“I am very proud of what we are doing.”

Currently working out of a house at Pasadena, Link Assistive staff will move into a 600sqm space, prominently located next to Siemens within the Tonsley precinct. Link Assistive will be the second and final tenant in the building after perfume robot manufacturer Accurate Dosing Systems announced it was joining the precinct last year.

Link Assistive is one of a growing number of businesses including Ziptrak, Nice Australia and Western Air that have chosen to relocate their operations to Tonsley over the past 12 months to take advantage of the world-class expertise in high-value manufacturing on site.

Link Assistive’s custom build at Lot 101, MAB Eastern Promenade, Tonsley is expected to be complete by March 2022, with the business preparing for a mid-year opening.

For more information about Link Assistive visit linkassistive.com

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