Australia's first national biotech incubator launched


Tuesday, 16 November, 2021

Australia's first national biotech incubator launched

Biotech researchers and entrepreneurs are being encouraged to apply for funding from Australia’s first national biotech incubator, CUREator, established with $40 million in funding from the federal government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).

The incubator, run by the Brandon Capital-managed Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF), aims to nurture up to 40 promising research discoveries, and early clinical-stage assets, over the next three years to a point where they are ready for further investment. Expressions of interest are now being sought for the first cohort, with funding to be awarded in early 2022.

“CUREator is for any biomedical researcher who has had that crucial ‘aha’ moment,” said Dr Simon Wilkins, CUREator’s newly appointed Head of Operations. “We classify this as the moment a researcher realises their discovery could change a disease state and make a real impact in the world.

“Australia already produces some of the world’s leading biomedical research and we have a proven pedigree in clinical development; however, many promising discoveries are still not getting to the point where they can be developed into new drugs and therapies. We want to change this and give this field the runway and support here in Australia to go and capture global markets, just as our trailblazing tech companies have.”

CUREator will deliver two streams of activity and any Australian small to medium-size enterprise (SME), or life science researcher at an Australian university or research institute, is eligible to apply for funding. The first stream of $20m will provide capital and hands-on expertise to guide the development of at least 25 promising preclinical biomedical technologies through to proof of concept where they are ready for further investment. Successful applicants will have already established, or will establish, a company structure as part of the incubation process.

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

Together, both streams will result in up to a further $60m being invested into the biotech industry over the next three years. Companies that successfully go through the incubator program may also be eligible for follow-on investment from the MRCF’s $700m life sciences fund, the largest in Australia and New Zealand.

“Up until now, Australia’s life science investment community has only been able to choose from a small number of ripe, investment-ready biomedical discoveries,” Dr Wilkins said. “With CUREator, we have the ability to nurture an entire orchard of opportunities on the path to commercialisation in a systematic way. It’s so exciting; it’s going to be a game changer.”

Despite Australia ranking in the top few countries globally for biomedical research, the long-time horizons and capital-intensive nature of biotech investment mean commercialising promising biomedical discovers is challenging, especially compared to tech commercialisation, Dr Wilkins said.

“With CUREator, we now have the capital, national coordination and access to Brandon Capital’s proven commercialisation expertise to fund and nurture the next generation of Australian biomedical discoveries,” he said.

For those interested in finding out more about CUREator eligibility, a webinar has been organised for 17 November at 12 noon AEDT. To register, click here.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/freshidea

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