An industry-led consortium is set to begin projects that will link industry partners with regenerative medicine academic research and boost the growth of this emerging sector. The consortium, called the Regenerative Medicine Industry Interface, will accelerate commercialisation and translation of academic research into products and solutions for industry, says Dr Matthew Nussio, Manager of Industry Partnerships at Monash University. He says the consortium is a catalyst for translation and brings together early- to clinical- stage regenerative medicine companies in Australia with Victorian research institutes and industry associations.
Monash University, ARMI and the Monash Institute of Medical Engineering (MIME) are taking the lead at this stage, but they are also working with CSIRO, the BioMelbourne Network and other research institutes involved in regenerative medicine research. “The reason for this concerted effort is because the regenerative medicine industry is rapidly growing and there are predicted annual growth rates of 28 percent each year.” Matthew says the consortium supports the transformation of the emerging regenerative medicine sector into a sustainable industry that will enhance Victoria’s global reputation and attract more investment. “For Victoria and Australia to be competitive, the key consortium participants understand that we need to work together to increase the focus on the challenges and needs of the industry.”
The consortium has just completed a two-year consultation phase to identify the major challenges facing regenerative medicine translation in Australia. The three greatest challenges are inadequate access to:
• a skilled workforce
• technology and translational capabilities, including leveraging state-of-the-art technology at universities
• commercialisation expertise.
The consortium began promoting links and discussions by hosting several seminars and round-table sessions focussing on the local regenerative medicine sector and its challenges. “We are now commencing the next stage, which involves industry-led projects that will develop consortium members’ products and processes. As part of these projects we’ll be looking for students to start work on industry-based PhD projects from the middle of this year,” says Matthew. “These students will have specialised training to meet the skills and workforce needs of this industry. So in the future, we will have a group of people who can be the future Chief Scientific Officers, Chief Operating Officers and Chief Executive Officers the industry needs.” Matthew says the graduating students will help companies in the sector to grow, but will also have the entrepreneurial skills to launch the start-up companies of the future, arising from high-impact research in Victorian research institutes.
The consortium is also looking for support from the Victorian and federal governments to promote and elevate the projects. “Ultimately, through the growth of companies and supporting the start-up community, the consortium will develop opportunities for new jobs in Victoria. The PhD programs will produce industry-ready scientists with specific entrepreneurial business skills capable of fostering innovative advances for existing companies as well as creating the workforce for new local start-ups,” Matthew says. “The consortium’s initiatives will enhance the regenerative medicine sector in Australia, fast tracking therapies that the general population will be able to access. As a rapidly growing industry, and as the next pillar in healthcare, the consortium will play a critical and active role in the development of this sector in Australia.”