Melbourne and Monash universities have joined forces to create a fund worth up to $80 million to support early-stage biomedical research and bridge the commercialisation funding gap, with the help of the Victorian government.

The initiative is a first for Australia and represents the increasing appetite from higher education institutions to spin out successful start-ups.

The Victorian government has already committed $10 million to the joint venture, while Melbourne and Monash universities have pledged $50 million.

Monash University vice-chancellor professor Margaret Gardner said the new fund would further the city’s well-known reputation for excellence in health and medical research.

“Melbourne has been at the leading edge of biomedical innovation for the better part of a century, from John Cade’s experiments with lithium in the 1940s to pioneering work in IVF and the bionic ear during the 1970s and more recent breakthroughs in cancer treatment, stem-cell research and anti-viral drugs. This collaboration will extend that record of innovation even further,” she said.

“This is an era in which Victoria can make unprecedented strides in tackling disease and investing in transformative research to solve the health challenges for the state and the world. The catalyst is our bold venture to do precisely that.”

The enterprise will be chaired by former premier John Brumby and is expected to generate about $360 million in activity, support new companies, increase investment and exports and create specialised jobs in the sector.

Additional funding sought

The additional $20 million in funding is being sought from the federal government, philanthropic trusts and charities.

The University of New South Wales also has a joint commercialisation fund, but on a much smaller scale, with China’s Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

Melbourne and Monash’s new venture is the brainchild of of Professor Bill Charman, director of the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Professor Danny Hoyer, the University of Melbourne’s head of the department of pharmacology and therapeutics.

“The biomedical sector in Melbourne is already world-leading … However, too often important medical discoveries have not made it from the lab into new cures and therapies. And those that have succeeded, have often needed to be taken offshore early in their development such that higher commercial and scientific value has been lost to Australia,” Professor Charman said.

Read more: http://www.afr.com/technology/melbourne-and-monash-unis-partner-in-new-80-million-biomed-fund-20160602-gp9no9#ixzz4AWGuxMaM
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Source: Melbourne and Monash unis partner in new $80 million biomed fund | afr.com