VIC Local Hero in the 2018 Australian of the Year Awards
Mat Bowtell is the 2018 VIC Local Hero best known for his life-changing work in prosthetics and assistive devices. Pivoting away from his career in the automotive industry, Mat was determined to take his extensive knowledge in engineering to help make a difference.
Inspired by the likes of Nikola Tesla and Fred Hollows, Mat wants to build a world where prosthetics and assistive devices are accessible to all, regardless of their financial circumstances. With his experience in lean manufacturing and 3D printing, he has saved people over $7 million around the world by designing low-cost and open-source prosthetics for everyone. Currently, he is working on a multi-function bionic arm that he hopes will be equivalent to a $40,000 arm, for as little as $100.
As a society, he believes we have a fundamental responsibility to look after those who are less fortunate. Mat could never charge a cent for any of his devices because that is the way it should be. In fact, Mat believes his work gains more value when it’s helping those in need. Through his work, Mat is hoping to encourage prosthetic and bionic developers to innovate, use smarter engineering, and make devices that are accessible to all.
Mat’s mission has been featured on programs like The Project, Weekend Sunrise, Catalyst and ABC Radio’s Conversation Hour. His work has also been recognised with several awards, including the Commonwealth Points of Light Award for Australia from Her Majesty The Queen in 2019, the VIC Local Hero recipient at the Australian of the Year Awards in 2018.
With support from the Westpac Bicentennial Foundation, Mat aims to use the Social Change Fellowship to learn from leading bionic and prosthetic arm developers. In the process, he hopes to share his vision of accessible prosthetics with the world.
Residing in Phillip Island with his wife and two children, Mat continues to work as a full-time volunteer from his workshop, receiving community support from crowdfunding and public speaking engagements. He also provides pro-bono support and motivational talks to Victorian schools looking to implement 3D printing into their STEM programs.
Mat’s inspirational journey will inspire your audience with a renewed faith in humanity.