$65m biotech incubator names first 16 residents

A wearable “lab-on-a-chip” solution for hormone monitoring, a gum disease vaccine and technology for creating 3D models of human brain tissue are among the ideas that have piqued the interest of Australia’s newest biotech incubator.

Jumar Bioincubator on Thursday named the first cohort of early-stage biotech startups to gain access to its wet lab space, just days after the facility opened its doors – six months behind schedule – in Melbourne.

The incubator, operated by Cicada Innovations, aims to boost research translation by connecting early-stage ventures with the facilities and infrastructure to progress their discoveries towards real-world applications and commercialisation.

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Founding partners CSL, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI), and the University of Melbourne have together pitched in $45 million in cash and in-kind contributions over ten years.

A further $25 million has been provided through the $2 billion Victorian government innovation fund operated by Breakthrough Victoria, bringing total support for the project, including build costs, to $95 million.

An expression of interest process that guaranteed startups would retain 100 per cent of their intellectual property and have “no equity ties to the three founding partners”, while benefiting from access to Melbourne’s biomedical precinct, opened in June last year.

Of the 16 ventures to take up residency, all but one – 23Stands, a Sydney startup that uses artificial intelligence to perform human genome sequence analysis for personalised medical treatments – are based in Melbourne.

Other residents include Tessara Therapeutics, which is behind the brain tissue technology RealBrain, Ovulation biosensing startup Symex Labs, and Denteric, the CSL-backed company developing a gum disease vaccine.

Cicada Innovations chief executive Sally-Ann Williams said that “providing biomedical scientists and researchers with access to the knowledge and skills needed to build ‘born global’ biotech companies right here on shore” was critical for research commercialisation.

“Australia is the birthplace of a wide variety of transformative household-name medical innovations, such as the ultrasound, pacemakers, spray-on skin, the cochlear implant, the cervical cancer vaccine, and more,” she said.

CSL chief scientific officer and head of research Dr Andrew Nash added that “successfully translating medical research into new therapies or technologies can be a long and arduous process”.

The full list:

  • Tessara Therapeutics
  • Symex Labs
  • Denteric
  • Australian Genome Research Facility
  • Arovella Therapeutics
  • Centre for Biometrical Excellence
  • H3D
  • Immunosis
  • Inosi Therapeutics
  • Novoroo
  • Nutromics
  • Pacalis Therapeutics
  • Qankorey
  • RAGE Biotech
  • Titan
  • 23Strands

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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