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A portable dialysis machine has won two national Good Design awards, bringing a UNSW graduate one step closer to saving lives in remote communities.

Marcus Lee, who graduated from UNSW Built Environment last year, has been awarded two of the top prizes at this year’s inaugural Design Entrepreneur Awards for his life saving dialysis machine – which will help treat people with kidney problems in remote areas.

Lee won the Designer of the Year Award and the inaugural Design Entrepreneur Award which is a joint partnership between Good Design Australia and business accelerator CtechBA.

He will receive $25,000 pro-bono work by CtechBA to build a commercialisation strategy and plan, including mentoring to help launch his product.

Joshua Flowers, another UNSW Industrial Design graduate, received the Design Innovation Award for his product Speaksee, a kit of wearable bluetooth microphones that visualise conversations for people with profound hearing loss.

Lee’s haemodialysis machine, Vita, is a user-friendly, portable dialysis machine for kidney disease patients living in remote areas. The affordable and portable haemodialysis machine can operate without being tethered to a water purification system or constant power source and can be used in the comfort of a patient’s home.


Marcus Lee presenting his home dialysis design Vita to secure the Design Entrepreneur Award.

The industrial designer travelled to remote communities in the Northern Territory to research his design idea. Supported by Western Desert Dialysis, Lee spent a week visiting patients in hospitals and at home and met with medical staff.

Lee said he wanted to provide a solution to the poor treatment outcomes and low survival rates that result from patients with kidney disease living in remote areas.

“It’s literally ‘plug and play’ with five main components connected to a digital interface,” says Lee.

“Once a patient has been trained to use it they can manage their treatment independently.”

UNSW Industrial Design director Stephen Ward congratulated Lee on his spectacular, double win. 

"Marcus' Vita design offers a remarkably complete and well considered solution to the problem he chose to address. It’s a great endorsement of the Bachelor of Industrial Design (Hons) program to have had three finalists and two winners in this year’s Awards from our graduating students of 2015. In each case the entry for the award was the design project the student had undertaken within the final year of the program," said Ward.


Speaksee by UNSW Industrial Design graduate Joshua Flowers won the Design Innovation Award.

Three of the nine finalists in the Young Australian Design category were UNSW graduates including Katherine Kawecki for her asthma management product, Respia.

UNSW Built Environment has a strong history with the Good Design Awards. Last year, Industrial Design graduate Max Glanville won the Young Designer of the Year Award for his bushfire detection system for residential properties, Fire Front