Australia establishes first national biotech incubator

By Rachel Arthur contact

- Last updated on GMT

Pic:getty/enjoynz
Pic:getty/enjoynz

Related tags: Australia, Venture capital

An Australian biotech incubator has been founded to help turn promising research into new therapies.

The biotech incubator will be funded with $40m ($29.3m USD) from the Federal Government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) and will be run by the Brandon Capital-managed Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF).

The incubator will provide the national infrastructure necessary to help life science researchers commercialise their innovations. In addition, it hopes to create jobs, manufacturing opportunities and nurture talent and research in the Australian biomedical industry.

“Over the last decade we have seen a gradual increase in the availability of capital to support the development and translation of Australian biomedical discoveries,” ​said Dr Chris Nave, CEO and co-founder of the MRCF.

“However, the reality is that gaps - or even chasms - still remain. One of these is the capital required to bridge the gap between where research grant funding finishes, and before a technology is at a stage that it can attract its first seed investment.

“This new incubator has been designed to directly address this problem and we believe it can make a real difference. The other significant gap, is the lack of capital for late-stage clinical development and commercialisation, but that is another problem that we are working toward solving.”

The expansion of risk capital and expertise is key to progressing lab discoveries into the clinic and then ultimately into new therapies, added pioneer venture capitalist and Chair of the MRCF, Bill Ferris.

Bill Ferris was the architect behind the Australian Government’s $500m Biomedical Translation Fund: established in 2015 to create a source of venture capital dedicated to commercialising later stage biotech opportunities. It matches public with private capital, with the Brandon Capital MRCF BTF being the largest fund at $230m.

“The funding will see an increase in the translation of our greatest discoveries from the laboratory bench to the bedside."​ he said. “It will ensure Australians have access to the latest health treatments and will ultimately lead to more jobs, income, exports, infrastructure and manufacturing for the sector.”

Three year plan

The $40m funding will be used to develop two streams of activity over the next three years. 

The first stream of $20m will identify promising preclinical biomedical technologies, providing funding and hands-on expertise to guide the development of these assets through to the point that they are ready for seed investment.

The second stream of $20m will provide capital to support the clinical development of novel therapies to treat disease. Opportunities that successfully receive funding through this stream, will also benefit from matching capital from the MRCF.

Companies that successfully go through the incubator programme may also have access to follow on investment from the MRCF’s $700m life sciences fund, the largest in Australia and New Zealand.

Any Australian SME, life science researcher at an Australian university or research institute, is eligible to apply for funding.

Related topics: Bio Developments

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