Major international companies choose Queensland to innovate

Published Wednesday, 15 June, 2016 at 10:23 AM


Premier and Minister for the Arts
The Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk

Treasurer, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships and Minister for Sport
The Honourable Curtis Pitt

Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy and Minister for Small Business
The Honourable Leeanne Enoch

A new hope in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease, a promising new way to tackle gum disease and a new low cost device that could revolutionise the diagnosis of heart damage are the recipients of the Advance Queensland Johnson & Johnson Innovation QuickFire Challenge, further cementing Queensland’s position as the leader in innovation.

Following the release of the Queensland Budget yesterday including $405 million for Advance Queensland, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the recipients at the opening of a new Johnson & Johnson Innovation Partnering Office @ QUT.

Ms Palaszczuk said the competition was a great example of global health innovation.

“The competition drew nearly 100 applicants from around the world and the quality was exceptional. There was a final list of 12 applicants who pitched their ideas to a panel of Johnson & Johnson Innovation and Queensland Government health innovation experts. Out of that we have our three recipients- one from each category: medical devices, pharmaceuticals and consumer healthcare, with each receiving $100,000,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

A condition of the challenge is that the winners spend their award in Queensland on research and commercialisation services.

The Palaszczuk Government provided the prize money as part of its $180 million Advance Queensland initiative. The global competition was managed by Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS, a no-strings attached, resource-rich incubator for life science companies.

“For the recipients, this is an excellent opportunity to translate their ideas and research into commercially viable products. Ultimately, the big winner from this will be patients if the innovations get to market. Winning the Quick Fire Challenge has certainly put them in a strong position to achieve this,” the Premier said.

The recipients in each category are:

  • Medical Devices: Sydney-based Atomo Diagnostics is looking to develop a prototype device for the early detection of cardiac damage. The device is based on Atomo Diagnostics’ AtomoRapid Point-of-Care technology and will utilise cardiac markers developed by Brisbane-based Anteo Technologies. The technology offers up the possibility of providing an easy-to-use, accurate and rapid low-cost diagnostic test, with the potential to offer an affordable and widely deployable alternative to expensive hardware systems. The early detection of heart damage is crucial to saving patients’ lives.
  • Pharmaceuticals: Taiwan-based Golden Biotechnology Corporation will look to do pre-clinical testing of a chemical compound, called Antroquinonol, which offers up hope as a possible drug for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Derived from a mushroom commonly used in Chinese traditional medicine, Antroquinonol looks like it is able to cross one of the greatest barriers to tackling dementia: the blood-brain barrier. The company will use the prize money to prepare the groundwork for a pilot study of the compound with early-stage Alzheimer’s patients.
  • Consumer devices: Using nanotechnology, Melbourne-based Eikonic R&D Pty Ltd has identified a chemical compound that targets the class of bacteria responsible for gum disease and tooth decay. The company is hopeful that it can develop a potential topical application that can be applied daily and is easy to use, avoiding the need for conventional complex, costly and invasive procedures.

“We want to congratulate the three recipients of the inaugural Advance Queensland-Johnson & Johnson Innovation QuickFire Challenge,” said Kathy Connell, Director of New Ventures for Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) for Johnson and Johnson Innovation which is affiliated with Jansen ANZ (Janssen-Cilag Pty Ltd).

“The quality of the research proposals from not only the winners, but all 12 finalists truly demonstrates that innovation can come from anywhere – and anyone. The finalists represented a diverse group of emerging entrepreneurs, each with a commitment to improving the lives of patients and addressing important areas of unmet medical need. We look forward to watching these three companies as they now start their journey from research concept to potential product development, right here in Queensland.”

Ms Palaszczuk said the new Johnson & Johnson Innovation Partnering Office @ QUT would allow Queensland researches and companies access to knowledge exchange and scouting programs, as well as scientific, regulatory and commercialisation expertise, from the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies, with the aim of nurturing and accelerating Queensland’s life sciences ecosystem.

Treasurer Curtis Pitt said encouraging innovation was a key plank of the State Budget and would help expand business and create jobs now and in the future.

“By boosting Advance Queensland funding to $405 million we are investing in the future of our state and in future jobs,” he said.

“We are not only supporting new industries and new business opportunities but we are also building on our existing strengths by helping to develop new opportunities in our traditional industries.”

Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy Leeanne Enoch said this was a critical period in the lifecycle of new health innovations as all too often promising research and innovation faltered due to a lack of early capital investment.

“The new Johnson & Johnson Innovation Partnering Office @ QUT will provide that all important access to commercialisation skills required for the successful development and growth of local life sciences industry,” Ms Enoch said.

QUT Vice Chancellor Professor Peter Coaldrake said the opening of the Johnson & Johnson Innovation Partnering Office @ QUT was an important milestone in the development of Queensland’s life sciences industry.

“The new partnering office will be of huge benefit in mentoring and supporting entrepreneurial healthcare and biotech companies from across Queensland, Australia, the Asia Pacific and indeed the world,” Professor Coaldrake said.

The new Johnson & Johnson Innovation Partnering Office @ QUT is located at the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation at QUT’s Kelvin Grove campus.