$15 million investment in biotech start-up wins global award

A $15 million investment in an Australian biotechnology start-up has been judged the Best Venture Capital Investment at the 2012 Vaccine Industry Excellence Awards in Washington.


Australian venture capital firm OneVentures led a $15 million investment in Vaxxas, which developed a needle-free vaccine system under the direction of Dr Mark Kendall.


The system is known as Nanopatch and uses thousands of small projections designed to deliver the vaccine to abundant immune cells in the skin instead of delivering vaccinations through a syringe which hits the muscle where there are few immune cells.


It has the potential to dramatically improve patient convenience and reduce the complications associated with needle phobia, needle stick injuries and cross contamination.


It is also designed to remove the need for refrigeration, making transport much cheaper and easier, particularly to developing nations around the world.


The investment, which included co-investors Brandon Capital Partners, the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund and US-based HealthCare Ventures, was made just seven months ago.


It enabled Dr Kendall – and his team at the University of Queensland’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology – to take Nanopatch into commercial development.


The investment was recently named the Best Venture Capital Investment at the 2012 Vaccine Industry Excellence Awards, held at the World Vaccine Congress in Washington last week.


The awards are designed to honour and recognise the efforts, accomplishments and positive contributions of companies and individuals in the vaccine industry over the previous 12 months.


The judging criteria for the award included the structure of the deal, the innovative shown in the investment and the impact the investing company has had on the business.


Dr Paul Kelly, OneVentures partner and chairman of Vaxxas, accepted the award on behalf of the investors and the company.


“The investment is significant because of its size, which ensures the company has appropriate initial funding to achieve key development and commercial milestones,” he said in a statement.


“These resources are not just financial but expertise, networks and the experience in… taking novel technologies through to innovative products.”


The OneVentures Innovation Fund, Brandon Biosciences Fund 1 and MRCF are all supported by the Australian Government’s Innovation and Investment Fund.


Dr Stephen Thompson, managing director of Brandon Capital Partners and the MRCF, says the importance of the IIF program – in enabling Australian venture capitalists to commercialise Australian research – “cannot be overemphasized”.


“Without this contribution to the venture industry, technologies such as the Nanopatch… may never make it off the laboratory bench to international markets,” Dr Thompson said.


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