NSW govt readies RNA R&D fund

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

The New South Wales government is searching for investment partners to help it establish an RNA fund that will provide millions to drug and vaccine research and development in the state, complementing a new state of the art manufacturing facility.

The Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade last month called for registrations of interest from potential industry partners for the new fund, which could be worth more than $100 million.

How the fund will operate, its total value, and governance structure are yet to be decided, but the state government wants it to focus on therapeutics and products at the clinical trial stage, and is looking for a greater than 20 per cent return over a decade for partners.

The government’s own expected rate of return is yet to be determined.

RNA (Ribonucleic acid) science made headlines during the pandemic with the development of mRNA vaccines for COVID-19. It also has the potential to treat cancer genetic and autoimmune diseases.

Last year, New South Wales’ 20-year R&D Roadmap identified vaccines as an area of strategic importance and one the state has an existing competitive advantage in.

The New South Wales government has committed $119 million to RNA therapeutics manufacturing, research and development over the next decade, with most of the money going to a Pilot Manufacturing Facility.

To leverage some of the remaining funds, the government is now looking to establish its first RNA Investment Fund.

“The mature research ecosystem in NSW is diverse and connects local health districts, medical research institutes, universities and clinical trial networks to provide centres of excellence in genomics, proteomics, biobanking and early phase clinical trials,” tender documents say.

“The combination of world leading expertise, networks, institutions and infrastructure make NSW an excellent place to invest in RNA therapeutics and products from discovery through to commercialisation.”

The documents say the structure of the fund is under consideration but could be an early stage venture fund, an early stage venture capital limited partnership or a fund of funds.

The government wants to engage potential partners and have the fund up and running within the next six months.

It is targeting “standard returns” for the investment partner over the medium term – “greater than 20 per cent expected over 2-10 years”.

Applicants to the current registration of interest are asked for input on several aspects of the fund, including its size, with one option a co-investment of above $50 million.

Potential industry partners have until January 27 to apply and help develop the initiative before a procurement phase over the following two months.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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