Australia’s first national biotechnology incubator announces round one funding

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Australia’s national biotechnology incubator CUREator has announced over $17 million in funding for 23 projects across six states and territories.

CUREator is backed by the federal government's Medical Research Future Fund and delivered by leading life science venture capital firm Brandon Capital.

“We launched CUREator late last year and now, with the announcement of Round 1 awardees, I’m delighted to share what we have long known about Australian research translation, which is that great opportunities abound and with the right support, we can accelerate their path to commercial inflection and clinical impact,” said Dr Simon Wilkins, the head of operations for CUREator.

“We had huge national interest from the who’s who of the sector. This cohort is working on amazing treatments across many different therapeutic areas with differentiated approaches to treating disease, and we are privileged to be able to accelerate that process for them. However, the broader demand showcases the need to continue to bridge the gap between where research grant funding finishes, and where companies are able to attract further investment.”

CUREator’s round one funding has awarded $8.5 million to 17 pre-clinical biomedical technologies to guide promising research through proof-of-concept stages towards being investment-ready.

Successful applicant Phrenix Therapeutics received funding to develop new treatments for schizophrenia.

“We’re delighted to be accepted as part of the CUREator incubator. For us, this funding is critical to help getting our technology out of the lab and in front of investors. Having access to not only the funds, but also the support of experts in biotech translation, is a huge boost to us in advancing our therapeutic pipeline along the pathway to market,” said Phrenix CEO Professor Chris Langmead.

RAGE Biotech received funding to develop its new treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. “This support will be critical, enabling us to develop a broader supporting data package for our novel RNA therapeutics approach in inflammatory lung disease. Demonstrating the potential of our approach in a broader range of lung diseases will increase our capacity to attract future investment,” said CEO Professor Merlin Thomas.

Round one also provides $8.9 million to support the clinical development of novel, clinical-stage drug therapies to treat disease.

Liperate is one of six companies to receive this stream of funding for their phase one project validating a novel treatment for Type 1 Diabetes. 

“CUREator was deliberately designed with two streams of funding to address the critical gaps in existing support. Firstly, at proof of concept, when projects need experimental validation to be ready for seed investment, and secondly during clinical development where additional capital is needed to accelerate translation and commercial success,” continued Dr Wilkins.

“Witnessing the quality of applications for the first round of funding demonstrated the strength of medical research in Australia and its potential to positively impact global health if the right support is put in place to support translation of this great research into the market place. The level of demand for this program, where grants are provided with the discipline of an investor, clearly demonstrated the need for this type of targeted funding, but also that more needs to be done,” said Brandon BioCatalyst CEO Dr Chris Nave.

“CUREator acts as much more than just funding, with successful applicants having access to expertise from across the industry and with each project structured with clear go/no go milestones and defined outcomes that are directed research translation and commercialisation. In many ways, this may prove to be the blueprint for the way government provides funding in the future.”