Biotech incubator CUREator has allocated $12 million in venture funding to 19 projects focused on a range of global health issues, ranging from treatments for lupus, motor neurone disease, brain and ovarian cancer, and inflammatory bowel disease, as part of its second cohort.
Backed by the federal government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), which invested $40 million in the accelerator program’s facilitator, Brandon BioCatalyst, alongside $3 million from CSIRO, CUREator is a national incubator, designed to bridge the gap between research grant funding and commercial investment, helping biotech startups Australian grow to the next stage of being investment ready.
The program has supported more than 40 Australian projects so far.
Brandon BioCatalyst CEO Dr Chris Nave said the initial phase of the CUREator program has already revealed the strength of translational research underway in Australia.
“CUREator, with support from the federal government, is revolutionising how grant funding is given in Australia by prioritising outcomes with a commercial lens,” he said.
“The incubator delivers focused funding like an investor and is designed to achieve key development milestones with hands on support and access to expertise and networks.”
The incubator offers multiple streams of funding alongside program support to accelerate promising Australian projects with commercial potential focused on preclinical biomedical research and medical innovations, clinical-stage therapeutics, health security innovations and solutions for minimising antimicrobial resistance.
Brandon BioCatalyst, collaborating with ANDHealth, also recently awarded a further $50 million from the MRFF for a new BioMedTech Incubator (BMTI) program through CUREator. It will widen the incubator’s scope to MedTech and Digital Health and will launch later this year.
One of the 12 startups to share in $6 million in pre-clinical funding, alongside being accepted into the accelerator program, is GILZRx, an early-stage biotechnology company, based at Monash University. The biotech company is developing a novel approach for the treatment of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases including lupus.
GILZRx cofounder Dr Sarah Jones said the funding is a crucial milestone.
“It enables us to take our research to the next level and validates the groundbreaking potential of our work,” she said.
“Ultimately, our goal is to take our research out of the lab and make a tangible impact in people’s lives, and this funding is the first step towards achieving that.”
An additional $3 million in the latest round is earmarked towards the clinical development of novel, clinical-stage drug therapies to improve patient outcomes.
Cyteph from QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute is one of two companies to receive this stream of funding for their phase one clinical study validating a novel T-cell therapy for the treatment of brain cancer.
Cofounder Prof. Rajiv Khanna said the support and expertise the program provides is an important as the funding.
“This support will assist us as we progress in our phase 1 study testing the safety and efficacy of our novel therapy for the treatment of recurrent Glioblastoma Multiforme, a severe form of brain cancer,” he said.
“Our novel research discovery, combined with the support of CUREator, increases the likelihood of Cyteph securing additional funding in the future,.
CSIRO’s $3 million has supported five startups working on technologies focussed on health security and safeguarding against pandemics and emerging infectious diseases.
Round 3 will see CSIRO contribute an additional $3 million for projects seeking to minimise antimicrobial resistance.
Dr Amanda Vrselja, program head of CUREator said the number of high calibre projects submitted from across the nation to our incubator demonstrates the need for this missing link in funding says
“To continue to support the research translational infrastructure, CUREator must be a long-term strategy with further support from the Federal Government. Round two of CUREator also provides $3m to progress the clinical development of novel, clinical-stage drug therapies to improve patient outcomes,” she said.
“Cyteph from QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute is one of two companies to receive this stream of funding for their phase one clinical study validating a novel T-cell therapy for the treatment of brain cancer.”
Applications for the next round of funding are currently open. You’ll find the details here.
The round two startups supported by CUREator are:
|Drug discovery platform targeting polynucleotides||VIC|
|Flavivirus vaccine platform||QLD|