CUREator+ to fund innovations in dementia, cognitive decline


Wednesday, 22 May, 2024

CUREator+ to fund innovations in dementia, cognitive decline

The CUREator+ Dementia and Cognitive Decline incubator program — a partnership between Brandon BioCatalyst, ANDHealth and Dementia Australia — today opened its first funding round, with companies pioneering innovative health technologies to enhance the lives of individuals affected by dementia and cognitive decline set to receive up to $5 million per project.

Funded by the Australian Government’s $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), the incubator program aims to support the development of novel approaches — spanning therapeutics, diagnostics, assistive and medical devices, and digital health technologies — that will prolong or improve the lives of Australians living with dementia and their caregivers.

The program delivers funding in tranches tied to mutually agreed-upon milestones and will seek to enhance the commercialisation and translation of innovations that improve health and wellbeing, empowering companies to produce the data that will advance the further development of their product or therapy. By aligning funding incentives and progress, CUREator+ aims to cultivate a thriving local ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship dedicated to tackling dementia and cognitive decline.

“Significant advances in technology offer us new ways to diagnose, treat and support those living with dementia and cognitive decline,” said Bronwyn Le Grice, CEO and Managing Director of ANDHealth. “From the development and application of artificial intelligence-based solutions to digitally enabled, transformative models of care, this program will provide critical support to a new generation of connected health technologies, which offer immense potential to enhance both the quality and length of life for patients.”

Applications for the CUREator+ Dementia and Cognitive Decline program are now open to entrepreneurial researchers, clinical innovators and founders across Australia; a national webinar to discuss the funding opportunity will be held on 5 June and applications will close on 4 July. For more information, visit https://cureatorplus.grantplatform.com/.

The news comes just two weeks after the national biotechnology incubator, CUREator, deployed $7.21 million in funding to support eight biotech companies — five clinical and three preclinical — thanks to the MRFF’s Early-Stage Translation and Commercialisation Support (ESTAC) grant.

This latest round of the grant funding program will allocate $5.84 million to five clinical-stage companies: ENA Respiratory, GPN Vaccines, OncoStrike Biopharma, PolyActiva and Respirion Pharmaceuticals. This funding will enable the companies to explore the efficacy of novel drugs or innovative applications for existing medications.

For example, GPN Vaccines is developing a vaccine with the potential to prevent pneumococcal disease, and will use its $936,000 grant to extend its first-in-human trial to investigate the broad activity against pneumococcal serotypes and demonstrate the duration of the immune response. OncoStrike Biopharma, meanwhile, will put its $950,500 grant towards a clinical trial of its new ‘theranostic’ for bladder cancer, which will make it easier to detect the cancer by homing in on a particular protein during diagnostic imaging.

CUREator delivers funding in tranches based on milestone attainment, and also allows the redistribution of funds from unmet milestones to supplement ‘top-up’ funding rounds for projects that have displayed strong progress to accelerate the development of their opportunity. Currus Biologics, Frontier Inflammasome Therapeutics and Setonix Pharmaceuticals were allocated $1.37 million in the Preclinical stream top-up round.

CUREator’s ESTAC program has supported 42 clinical and preclinical stage companies since 2022, with one more competitive round of top-up funding for the Preclinical stream funding recipients expected this year.

Image credit: iStock.com/Andrii Yalanskyi

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