Francis Logan

Francis Logan

Minister for Energy; Resources; Industry and Enterprise

    WA research institutes gain access to millions

    11/03/2008 12:00 AM

    Western Australian medical research institutes are poised to benefit from access to a multi-million-dollar capital fund. 

    Industry and Enterprise Minister Francis Logan today announced that Western Australian medical research institutes and allied research hospitals could now become foundation members of the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF).


    The MRCF is a pre-seed investment fund dedicated to investing in early stage development and commercialisation opportunities emanating from Australia’s medical research institutes.


    Mr Logan said the State Government would contribute $150,000 each year for four years towards the costs of managing the fund for WA institutes.


    “The State Government strongly supports the MRCF as it directly aligns with our biotechnology industry development strategy, particularly in the area of building capacity and capability,” he said.


    “Access to these new investment funds will help to encourage the commercialisation of biomedical research in WA and enable our research institutes to further develop and implement new therapies to treat health disorders.


    “I strongly encourage all WA medical research institutes to think about participating in the MRCF to leverage maximum benefit from the State Government contribution.”


    MRCF co-founder Chris Nave, formerly a director of commercialisation at the Baker Heart Research Institute and now with Brandon Capital Partners, said the fund had been established to assist medical research institutes overcome the early stage funding gap that was a major obstacle when attempting to commercialise new medical technologies in Australia.


    “Investment at this stage is beyond the scope of grant funding bodies such as the National Health and Medical Research Council and it is usually considered too premature for traditional venture capital funds,” Dr Nave said.


    “We are delighted to have WA onboard to create a co-ordinated approach across Australia which will provide numerous opportunities for collaborative efforts.” 


    The Minister said the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research (TICHR) and the Western Australian Institute for Medical Research initially approached the Department of Industry and Resources with the proposal to support the MRCF.


    Telethon Institute chief financial officer Bruce McHarrie said MRCF would facilitate further investment for WA’s biotechnology industry’s research and development commercialisation activities.


    “In addition, foundation membership at the MRCF offers national visibility for WA institutes through collaborative and secondment opportunities with eastern state-based organisations,” Mr McHarrie said.


    “An increase in the number of commercial spin-outs, licensing arrangements and transactions could also result from joining the MRCF, which have the potential to provide an additional income stream to WA institutes.


    “TICHR would like to acknowledge the State Government’s assistance, without which WA-based medical research institutes would not have been able to participate in this fantastic initiative.”


    The MRCF was established in June 2007 with initial support from the Victorian and New South Wales governments and $30million from two leading superannuation funds, Westscheme and Statewide, each providing $15million over a 10-year period. Over 12 medical research institutes from Victoria and NSW are already members.


    For more information about the fund, contact Sharon Humphris, biotechnology project manager at the Department of Industry and Resources on 9222 0439.


    Minister's Office -9222 8950