WASHINGTON, DC, USA and BRISBANE, QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA – The $15m syndicated investment in Vaxxas Pty Ltd, developers of the Nanopatch™, a new needle-free vaccine delivery system, was judged the Best Venture Capital Investment at the 2012 Vaccine Industry Excellence Awards, held at the World Vaccine Congress in Washington, DC last week.
Dr Paul Kelly, OneVentures Partner and Chairman of Vaxxas, accepted the award on behalf of the investors and the company. The investment led by OneVentures, with co-investors Brandon Capital Partners, the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF), and US-based HealthCare Ventures was made just seven months ago, enabling Professor Mark Kendall and his team at University of Queensland’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) to take the Nanopatch™ into commercial development.
The Vaccine Industry Excellence Awards have been created to honour and recognise the efforts, accomplishments, and positive contributions of companies and individuals in the vaccine industry over the previous 12 months. This year’s awards were voted upon by global industry representatives and attended by more than 500 senior vaccine industry professionals.
The judging criteria for the award included the structure of the deal, how innovative the investment model was, and what impact the investing company has had and will have on the business.
Dr Kelly said winning the award was an acknowledgement of the innovative approach the syndicate had bought to making this investment. “As well as the OneVentures team, I would like to acknowledge the contributions of my fellow syndicate Directors, Dr Stephen Thompson of Brandon Capital Partners and Douglas Onsi, of HealthCare Ventures.
“The investment is significant because of its size, which ensures the company has appropriate initial funding to achieve key development and commercial milestones, because the investment syndicate includes both Australian and international investors, and also because those investors have a hands-on approach to supporting the company even at this early stage,” Dr Kelly said.
“These resources are not just financial but expertise, networks and the experience in building high-growth globally significant companies and taking novel technologies through to innovative products. Colleagues in the investment syndicate have vaccine industry experience, healthcare business development experience and close relationships with major pharmaceutical companies.”
Dr Stephen Thompson, Managing Director of Brandon Capital Partners and the MRCF, stated that “the OneVentures Innovation Fund, Brandon Biosciences Fund 1 and MRCF are all supported by the Australian Government’s IIF program. The importance of the IIF program is enabling Australian venture capital firms to commercialise the outcomes of Australia’s strong research capability can not be over emphasized. Without this contribution to the venture industry, technologies such as the Nanopatch™ being commercialised through Vaxxas, may never make it off the laboratory bench to international markets.”
Douglas Onsi, Managing Director of HealthCare Ventures, stated that “this award is a tribute to Professor Kendall and the team in his lab at the AIBN who invented and developed the breakthrough Nanopatch™ technology and to UniQuest who provided the managerial and intellectual property support. A venture investment is only as good as its underlying technology and people, and this award represents recognition from the global vaccine industry of Professor Kendall and his team’s accomplishments in solving some of the major issue in vaccine delivery. The entire syndicate looks forward to seeing the Nanopatch™ technology advance towards testing in patients.”
The Nanopatch™ has thousands of small projections designed to deliver the vaccine to abundant immune cells in the skin, whereas the traditional syringe hits the muscle where there are few immune cells. Early stage testing in animals so far has shown that a Nanopatch™ delivered flu vaccine was effective with only 1/150th of the dose compared to a syringe and that the adjuvants currently required to boost the immunogenicity of vaccines may not be needed. In addition to improving the efficiency of delivery, the Nanopatch has the potential to dramatically improve patient convenience and reduce the complications associated with needle phobia, needle stick injuries and cross contamination, which are key global health issues. The Nanopatch™ is designed also to provide vaccine thermostability, removing the need for refrigeration, making transport much cheaper and easier, particularly to developing nations around the world.