The University of Queensland has welcomed the Queensland Government’s $1 million commitment to translating medical research into better health care.

Queensland Minister of Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts Ian Walker has announced that the Government will inject $1 million into the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF).

The MRCF is a venture capital fund providing dedicated investment to support the commercialisation of early-stage medical research discoveries, including world-leading medical technologies developed at some of UQ’s medical research institutes.

Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) Professor Anton Middelberg said the Queensland Government’s investment was essential to help Australian research institutions translate discoveries into commercial products that would benefit lives in Queensland and others globally.

“Since the global financial crisis, there have been very few new venture-backed companies in Australia as many wholesale investors take fewer risks,” Professor Middelberg said.

“In this tough funding climate, the Queensland Government has demonstrated tremendous leadership with its ongoing investment in the MRCF.”

The MRCF, which is also supported by the Australian Government and the state governments of Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia, has invested in two medical technology start-ups.

They are Q-Sera and Vaxxas and both are based on innovative research from the UQ Centre for Clinical Research (UQCCR) and UQ’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN).

Q-Sera is commercialising technology for producing high-quality serum for analysis in a clinical setting, based on the blood clotting properties of a protein isolated from a specific snake venom.

The innovative serum-production technology was developed from the work of Professor Martin Lavin from the UQCCR, Dr Paul Masci from UQ’s School of Medicine, Emeritus Professor John de Jersey from UQ’s School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences and Dr Goce Dimeski, chief scientist in chemical pathology at Princess Alexandra Hospital.

Vaxxas was established in 2011 to commercialise the Nanopatch technology, a pain-free method of vaccine delivery designed to replace needles and syringes.

The postage-stamp sized Nanopatch is the invention of AIBN’s Professor Mark Kendall.

Both start-up ventures were established with the support of UniQuest Pty Limited, UQ’s main commercialisation company.

UniQuest CEO Dr Dean Moss said UQ maintained a strong commitment to the discovery and translation of biomedical technologies, and that the continuing availability of venture capital would ensure more start-ups like Q-Sera and Vaxxas had the best chance of success.

“Continuing investment will ensure ground-breaking research discoveries make it out of the laboratory and attract the best industry support in the marketplace to have a real impact on the broader community,” Dr Moss said.

“Ultimately, such technologies are critical to providing improved health care on a global scale and Queensland has much to contribute.”

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