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News & Trends - Biotechnology

Multistakeholder collaboration to advance Australia’s biotech industry

Health Industry Hub | November 4, 2022 |

Biotech News: An independent operator has been appointed to oversee and manage the new start-up incubator which will support and grow early-stage Australian biotech companies, providing both lab and office spaces.

Cicada Innovations, a Sydney-based deep-tech incubator, was chosen by CSL, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI) and the University of Melbourne to be responsible for establishing operations and overseeing day-to-day management of the incubator and its residents.  

The incubator, to be located at CSL’s new global corporate headquarters under construction in the world-leading Melbourne Biomedical Precinct, will support up to 40 start-up companies to translate promising medical research into commercial outcomes. 

WEHI Director, Professor Doug Hilton AO, said that the appointment of Cicada is an important step forward for the incubator.

“The incubator is vital for building a critical mass of management-skilled scientists who have the knowledge and confidence to run successful biomed and biotech companies. Ultimately the incubator will accelerate translational outputs to take scientific discoveries to the next stage of development faster.

“Cicada’s unique experience, underpinned by a wealth of knowledge about Australia’s biotech ecosystem and the unique challenges facing start-ups here, will provide a launchpad for incubator residents to translate medical research to successful commercial outcomes.”

Twice named ‘top incubator in the world’ by International Business Incubator Association, Cicada has helped incubated start-ups raise over $1.5B in funding, achieve over $1.3B in exits and trade sales, file over 600 patents, and launch over 700 innovations globally.

Dr Andrew Nash, CSL’s Chief Scientific Officer and Senior Vice President, Research, said “Incubator residents will be working in an innovation-driven environment alongside a large and focused CSL R&D team, enabling opportunities for peer-collaboration, learning and sharing of ideas.”

Sally-Ann Williams, CEO Cicada Innovations said “Global health challenges require collaboration between all parts of the ecosystem to bring solutions to market. The opportunity to connect Australia’s world leading biomedical research with the support needed to translate discoveries to products in market is one that will benefit Australia as a whole. This incubator can be a catalyst nationally for growth in commercial biotech outcomes for Australia and we are delighted to help bring that vision to life.”

The incubator will be open to applications from small biotech companies who have engaged in early research and are seeking to take their discoveries to the next stage of development. It will provide affordable, state-of-the-art wet-lab facilities, equipment and office space to start-ups. Cicada  will provide a range of services, including commercialisation education programs, facilitated access to investors, industry mentoring and access to service providers for incubator residents, ensuring the creation and ongoing success of a vibrant biotech ecosystem within the incubator.

University of Melbourne Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Jim McCluskey said the appointment of Cicada, with its depth of experience and understanding of the support required by research scientists to nurture biomedical start-ups, is substantial progress in establishing Australia’s leading incubator.

“Once the incubator is operational it will accelerate the translation of promising medical research into biotech inventions and commercial outcomes, provoking new collaborations while addressing the challenges facing the community,” Professor McCluskey said.

Made possible with financial and in-kind support from CSL, one of the world’s largest biotech companies, University of Melbourne and WEHI, together with investment partner Breakthrough Victoria, an independent company managing the $2 billion Breakthrough Victoria Fund, the incubator is scheduled to open to start-ups in 2024 and will be able to accommodate up to 40 early-stage companies from around Australia and internationally.

“The strong collaboration between CSL, the University of Melbourne, WEHI, Breakthrough Victoria and now Cicada Innovations has been critical to bring the incubator to fruition and reflects CSL’s values and desire to deliver on our promise to patients worldwide. As Australia’s largest biotech, we can share our extensive knowledge with resident biotech start-ups who will have access to the wrap around support they need to translate their medical research into new treatments and therapies,” Dr Nash said.

Breakthrough Victoria CEO, Grant Dooley said “Breakthrough Victoria is proud to be investing in the biotech incubator, which will give start-ups access to industry expertise and specialised lab and clinical facilities and infrastructure to develop and commercialise their innovations.”

Start-ups interested in applying for residence in the incubator are encouraged to email incubator@csl.com.au.


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