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Joint doorstop at the launch of the $500 million Biomedical Translation Fund

13 December 2016

Subject: Launch of the Turnbull Government’s $500 million Biomedical Translation Fund

E&OE

Joint doorstop with the Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon Sussan Ley MP, Chair of Innovation and Science Australia, Bill Ferris, and Paul Kelly, OneVentures.

GREG HUNT:         

I'm delighted to be here at CSIRO with the Health and Ageing Minister Sussan Ley, and with the head of Innovation and Science Australia Bill Ferris.

Today we are announcing the next wave of investment under the Biomedical Translation Fund.

That's a $500 million injection into medical research and commercialisation. Most importantly, this is about, as the name says, translating the benefits of the research in CSIRO, in our hospitals, in our brilliant emerging firms and taking it to the public.

It's about treatment for bowel cancer, it's about early markers for asthma or lung cancer. It's about medical devices that can assist with chronic pain management.

Things which will make a profound difference to human health in Australia, as well as create investment, as well as create jobs in the health, medical, and science sector.

The Biomedical Translation Fund is one of the centrepieces of the Prime Minister's National Innovation and Science Agenda.

And today, what we're announcing is that Innovation and Science Australia, through a very careful and exhaustive assessment, has struck agreements with three partners to be the fund managers, $250 million of government money backed by $250 million of private sector funds.

And so we have Brandon Capital, we have OneVentures and we have Bioscience Managers who will be the three fund managers.

All are world-class experts in biomedical research, biomedical translation and biomedical investment.

At the end of the day, this is about investment in diagnosis, investment in drugs, and investment in devices, three things that can have a profound difference both in terms of jobs, investment, and ultimately human health and quality of life for all Australians. Sussan?

SUSSAN LEY:         

Thanks, Greg. It's terrific to be with you here today at CSIRO. Thank you, Larry, for having us. Lovely to be with you here, Bill. Equity partners in what is a really exciting announcement for the health system as well as for innovation more broadly in Australia.

As I visit medical research facilities around Australia and talk to the really committed, passionate scientists, and researchers that Greg and I have met today are perfect examples, you know that those individuals see the work that they're doing in a laboratory as it translates to the bedside, so the saying bench to bedside is often used and how do we make that happen?

But it's not simple, it's not straightforward and it's not without risk. But what this Biomedical Translation Fund will do will give a leg-up to investors who might be a bit cautious but I'm sure will consider this a good deal, something to put their money in, something to partner with the Australian Government in, in order to commercialise some of these early discoveries.

Discoveries like the ones we've seen here today about early detection and screening of cancer. So I'm excited today for innovation, I'm excited for the Australian firms that will participate, for the researchers that we have here in Australia and the work that they do every day.

And I'm particularly excited for the health system because the patient for whom we build that system for will benefit the most from access to treatments, to drugs, to devices that they may otherwise be waiting years for.      

So thank you very much, it's terrific to be here.

GREG HUNT:         

And we might invite Bill Ferris, the head of Innovation and Science Australia.

BILL FERRIS:        

Well, thank you Ministers Hunt and Ley for your articulate and passionate support of this Biomedical Translation Initiative. It's a great pleasure for me as chairman of Innovation and Science Australia today to welcome a selection of these managers.

They are very competent, very experienced, plenty of scar tissue as well as successes. That's what you need in this high risk investment area.

And to see their management skills and the managers being supported initially by a co-investment lead by the Government to make it more possible for institutional investors to step up in this venture capital issue of better devices, molecules, drugs, digital solutions to healthcare for Australians and indeed world citizenry is a fantastic step.

And so I'd like to thank the chairman of the BTF Committee, the Biomedical Translation Fund Committee of Innovation and Science Australia Peter Wills and his team, and also congratulate Brandon Capital, OneVentures, and BioScience Managers.          

Just a quick word, for example, we're here today seeing the Clinical Genomics, which grew out of CSIRO technology, and their risk investment from one of our managers, OneVentures, has now developed an extremely credible, pioneering diagnostic colorectal cancer detection that can save lives and change lives if you detect it early enough, and I'd like to perhaps if it's appropriate throw to Paul Kelly, who's here representing OneVentures, to say something about that.

And really also you and I [inaudible] Vaxxas, which OneVentures has already invested in, which is a Nanopatch with thousands of microneedles.

Stick the patch on the arm for an injection, no tears, no needles, no temperature problems et cetera.

These are the sorts of breakthroughs that Australians have made that we now want to get into the marketplace, and that's what this fund's all about. Paul.

PAUL KELLY:       

Thanks Bill, and thank you Minister Hunt and Minister Ley for your support.

This is a very exciting day for Australian biomedical venture capital. Tremendous support from the Government through a variety of initiatives, not just the BTF but other initiatives.

One real challenge is for Australian biomedical innovation in the past has been translating what's terrific intellectual property and intellectual assets and discoveries through medical research institutes and universities into commercial products. =

And Clinical Genomics, the company that Bill referred to, is this week launching its DNA diagnostic marker for colorectal cancer in the US market. The world’s largest diagnostic market.

That will generate income for Australia, income for the CSIRO, and jobs in supporting research development in Australia.        

It's a great example of what we will be doing going forward with this new BTF. Vaxxas, as Bill referred to, is a University of Queensland invention that we licensed out of University of Queensland [inaudible] company.

That's a technology that is used for the development of microneedle vaccine delivery.

No needles, no cold storage of vaccine, pain-free, and it's on its path to commercialisation and further development.

These are a number of opportunities that we'll be taking forward. OneVentures, Brandon Capital, and BioScience Managers will be translating into commercial products.

GREG HUNT:         

Great. Thank you very much.