2017 – A Big Year for Biotech!

Our vision for Victoria is to lead the world in health innovation. Discovering, developing and manufacturing the health technologies that change the world. New drugs, devices, diagnostics, vaccines, therapies and digital products – Victoria is the best place to be to make a difference for the future of health.

2017 has been a big year in terms of realising that vision, and I want to share with you some of the highlights for the year which show the ways the sector is going from strength to strength.

One of the biggest deals of the year was the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute’s landmark deal worth up to US$325 million from the partial sale of royalty rights in their anti-cancer treatment venetoclax. Venetoclax is the result of a research collaboration between the WEHI and US companies Genentech, and AbbVie, who developed the drug and is a terrific example of Melbourne discoveries going global through industry partnerships and collaboration.

In 2017 the first investment commitment from the Federal Government’s BioMedical Translation Fund was made into a Melbourne company – $10million for Prota Therapeutics, a spin-out from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, who are developing of a promising new probiotic based treatment for peanut allergies in children. There’s an increasing amount of VC money available in biotech, through the BTF and other life sciences funds and we want Melbourne to continue to be the leading start-up location for biotech and medtech companies in 2018.

It’s been a big year for Victorian biotech companies on the ASX. Starpharma hit a market cap of $500million with their VivaGel® rBV program going all the way from discovery through to phase III clinical trials – a terrific example of a Melbourne company retaining value and growth here in Victoria. Many companies have met key milestones, advancing products through Phase I and Phase II clinical trials, such as Dimerix, Cynata and Opthea, so we are expecting more good news in 2018 as they move toward market. There is a huge momentum in biotech drug development right now!

And Victorian health technology products are going global with companies reaching into international markets. In 2017 Global Kinetics Corporation were granted their CE mark for the EU market for their wearable medical device for measuring Parkinson’s Disease, and they also have FDA clearance in the US. The wearable device is based on research from the Florey Institute, has been designed, developed and manufactured in Melbourne and is now exported and on market in 17 countries around the world. In 2017 Port Melbourne company PolyNovo expanded their clean room manufacturing capability in Melbourne to be able to supply their wound repair product for burns victim into Europe and the US, and are set for sales to soar in 2018.

Melbourne companies make incredible economic and global health contributions. This year, biotech company Medicines Development for Global Health were awarded FDA priority review designation for moxidectin, a drug to treat river blindness. If this product is approved by the FDA, not only will it save the sight of thousands of people in developing countries, Medicines Development for Global Health will receive a transferable Priority Review Voucher with market value up to $350Million.

These are the stories of Melbourne’s economic future – smart people making smart products that will change the world and create better health outcomes for all. We’re building a sector that our kids will want to work in, that people will aspire to contribute to, to use their knowledge, skills and acumen to make a living that makes a difference. When we think of Victoria’s future knowledge economy, we know that the health innovation industry is Victoria’s global competitive strength and I look forward to continuing to work together in 2018 to achieve our shared vision for Victoria’s future.

Dr Krystal Evans
CEO, BioMelbourne Network
03 9667 8181


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