THE capacity of South Australian medical researchers to transform promising experimental work into commercial products was strengthened this week through the announcement of a new partnership.
The Government of South Australia will invest more than AUD$600,000 to support the operations of the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF) in the state over the next four years.
Chris Smith from Brandon Capital Partners – which manages MRCF – says the timing of investment in medical research is critical.
“Often what happens is funding bodies take research to a certain point, but then aren’t able to help once product development starts,” he said.
“MCRF offers early-stage investment. Our strength lies in bringing risk-tolerant capitol together with medical research.”
The MCRF already supports translation of medical research in Victoria, Western Australia, New South Wales and Queensland.
“We’ve invested in 19 companies so date, and 15 of these are brand new initiatives in that we’ve seeded through funding,” says Mr Smith.
“As an example, Fibrotech Therapeutics was recently bought by Irish pharmaceutical company Shire for more than USD$75 million upfront. ”
“In the early days at Melbourne University, our funding saw Fibrotech Therapeutics move from preclinical to clinical trials,” he says.
Bringing the MCRF to South Australia will allow researchers at SAHMRI and other South Australian institutions to access national and international expertise for the development of new therapies, diagnostics and medicines.
Acting Executive Director at SAHMRI Professor Steve Nicholls says it’s a positive step for the whole community.
“When we conduct research and develop new products in South Australia and the commercial success stays here, it benefits everyone – the researcher, the institute and the community at large.”
“There are also economic gains at the local and national level,” he says.
“It also helps to develop a sense of confidence in our research community, as we need our researchers to believe that their discoveries can turn into the next big thing.”