AusBiotech Ltd. Release: New Venture Capital Fund in Response to McKeon Review

Published: Aug 21, 2013

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21 August 2013 -- AusBiotech has commended the Labor Government’s response to the ‘Strategic Review of Health and Medical Research’ (The McKeon Review) and its pledge to establish the $250 million Medical Research Innovation Fund (MRIF), to provide capital for early stage development of innovative biotechnology ventures.

The MRIF is the centrepiece of the ‘McKeon Research Package’, the Labor Government’s initial response to this major independent review. The MRIF, modelled on the successful venture capital co-investment program the Innovation Investment Fund, will seek to bridge the gap between Australia’s world-class medical research and commercialisation by investing $125 million of public funding, to be matched to $125 million of private sector funding.

The new $250 million MRIF will assist Australian researchers and entrepreneurs to successfully commercialise new medical treatments and healthcare technologies.

AusBiotech Acting CEO, Glenn Cross said: “Access to venture capital funds is vital for early stage companies commercialising medical research if they are to deliver life-saving and enhancing biotechnologies to the community.”

The MRIF funds - like the IIF funds – will be invested via licenced fund managers; the size of the tranches and number of fund members are yet to be determined.

Mr Cross noted that the need for the $125 million of public funding to be leveraged with $125 million of private sector funding is illustrative of the important central role that government can play to act as a stimulus, however the key to its success is in its attractiveness to the private sector.

“AusBiotech looks forward to the release of the conditions and further details, as these will determine the MRIF value to the industry.”

The McKeon Review’s final report, released earlier this year, echoed industry’s calls for commercialisation, clinical trials and IP support.

At the time AusBiotech and the biotechnology industry welcomed the Review’s Report as a well-articulated plan to build our nation’s healthcare over the next decade. In particular the industry warmly welcomed the report’s recommendations in regard to strengthening translation (commercialisation) of research, support to strengthen and protect “valuable” intellectual property and a call to fast track reforms to the clinical trials system.

The strengthening of commercial pathways to ensure the translation of research outcomes into health and economic benefits for the Australian community is a key element of the Report, which recommends that funding address the twin 'valleys of death' in commercialising research and called for the establishment a Translational Biotech Fund. The fund, aimed at early-stage development, was suggested to be worth $250 million, funded by the Australian Government and the private sector on a one-to-one matched basis.

In addition, the ‘McKeon Research Package’ will implement around $70 million of investments and reforms in response to the 2013 McKeon Review.

This includes delivering $47.5 million in funding for 19 Centres for Research Excellence to encourage research in fields identified as national priorities and establishing four new Centres focussing on Indigenous health, national clinical trials, international health and genomics.

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