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News & Analysis

Australia’s new $40 million biotech incubator, CUREator, is on the hunt for researchers and startup founders

- November 15, 2021 2 MIN READ
Dr Simon Wilkins
CUREator Head of Operations Dr Simon Wilkins
Expressions of interest are now open for the first cohort for CUREator, Australia’s first national biotech incubator.

CUREator was established with $40 million in funding from the federal government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) and the incubator, run by the Brandon Capital-managed Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF), hopes to play a hand in developing up to 40 research discoveries, over the next three years, ready for further investment.

The University of Melbourne’s Dr Simon Wilkins, a research commercialisation veteran and the co-founder of Translating Research at Melbourne (TRAM), has been appointed CUREator’s head of operations.

Dr Wilkins said CUREator will deliver two streams of activity, with any small to medium size enterprise (SME), or life science researcher at an Australian university or research institute, eligible to apply for funding.

“CUREator is for any biomedical researcher who has had that crucial ‘aha’ moment. We classify this as the moment a researcher realises their discovery could change a disease state and make a real impact in the world,” he said.

“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.”

The funding will be awarded in early 2022.

The first stream of $20 million 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 $20 million 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.

Dr Wilkins said that both streams will result in up to an additional $60 million being invested into the biotech industry over the next three years.

Companies that successfully go through the incubator programme may also be eligible for follow on investment from the MRCF’s $700 million life sciences fund.

“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.”

A webinar about CUREator eligibility is being held on Wednesday, November 17, at 12pm. Register for it here.