The microscope-in-a-needle was developed in the Optical + Biomedical Engineering Laboratory (OBEL) at The University of Western Australia (UWA) to assist surgeons with identifying which tissue to remove during surgery minimising the risk of missing cancer cells. Originally developed for breast cancer surgery the device has the potential for applications that include brain and lung cancer biopsy as well as an assessment tool for new drugs.

In 2014 UWA entered the WA innovator of the Year program and was selected as a Winner in the Emerging Innovation category. Microscope-in-a-needle also received industry recognition when they were awarded Winner of the 2014 SPIE Startup Challenge. SPIE is the international society for optics and photonics.

Accelerating Commercialisation provided UWA assistance in the form of a grant and an advisor, which helped with taking the microscope-in-a-needle to market.

The team at OBEL are leveraging the technology developed in microscope-in-a-needle to develop a nanoscope-in-a-needle. The nanoscope-in-a-needle project is funded by an Australian Research Council grant.

A new Australian start-up company is currently finalising licensing of key patents from UWA.