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$6.5 million biotech boost

3 March 2005

$6.5 million biotech boost

The Australia New Zealand Biotechnology Partnership Fund today announced $6.76 million in grants to the New Zealand partners in four key trans-Tasman biotech projects.

The $12 million Fund was established last year to help New Zealand biotech firms build their business through increased co-operation with their Australian counterparts. Between 25 and 50 per cent of project costs can be met out of the Fund on the condition that the contribution is matched from private sector sources.

"One of the keys to sustained economic growth is New Zealand's ability to developed world leading technology. Our biotechnology sector is at the forefront of innovation and this fund is designed to accelerate its growth and global reach," says Associate Minister of Industry and Regional Development, Pete Hodgson.

"Partnering with Australian biotech companies enables Kiwi firms to accelerate their development not only within the trans-Tasman market, but globally."

The grants announced today are:

$3 million over three years for Wrightson for the development and commercialisation of genetically modified ryegrass for the international market,

$2.19 million over three years for Proacta Therapeutics for the development of a cancer treatment compound,

$945,000 to Industrial Research Ltd (IRL) for the development of new drugs, drug delivery technologies and manufacturing techniques for them, and;

$635,000 for Neuren Pharmaceuticals for the development and commercialisation of a drug to treat spinal injury and multiple sclerosis. All developments are to be carried out in line with prevailing national regulatory frameworks.


Notes

Wrightson - $3m over three years The development and commercialisation of genetically modified ryegrass. This project will involve the manipulation of genes from a single species of rye grass. It does not involve the transfer of genes from other organisms.

The project is a collaboration between Wrightson and the Australian research organisation, the Molecular Plant Breeding Cooperative Research Centre. The objective is develop forage for the international market that would boost the productivity of pastoral animals.

Development and field trials will be carried out in Australia.

Proacta Therapeutics - $2.19 million over three years The project is to develop a second cancer treatment compound in parallel to its lead compound, dinitrobenzamide mustard PR-104. The lead investor is Australian venture capital company GBS Ventures. Other investment partners include New Zealand based No.8 Ventures and Endeavour I-cap. Industrial Research Ltd - $945,000 Crown Research Institute Industrial Research Ltd (IRL) is to develop new technologies for drug delivery for classes of drugs used to combat sexually transmitted diseases, cancer and glaucoma.

IRL's Australian project partner is Starpharma, a specialist in the development of drug structures known as dendrimers.

Neuren Pharmaceuticals - $635,000 Neuren Pharmaceuticals for the accelerated development and commercialisation of a drug targeted at spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis in partnership with Australia’s Metabolic Pharmaceuticals. The acceleration of these phases prior to clinical trials should increase the time available for maximum commercial returns under patent life.

Background to the Fund

The Australia New Zealand Biotechnology Partnership Fund (ANZBPF), administered by NZTE, is designed to facilitate and accelerate trans-Tasman biotechnology industry collaboration. Developing greater regional critical mass will give Australian and New Zealand biotech companies better access to global market opportunities. The Fund consists of $12 million dollars to be distributed by 30 June 2007. The Fund will support a number of activities, including the Australian-New Zealand Biotechnology Alliance. The majority of the Fund will be available to industry in the form of grants.

From 1 July 2004 eligible companies, including commercial entities from within Tertiary Education Institutions (TEI) and Crown Research Institutes (CRI), have been able to apply for support ranging from under $2,000 for personal business skills development and up to $1,000,000 per annum for large-scale, trans-Tasman collaborative ventures.

Only New Zealand companies or organisations are eligible. The ANZBPF is designed to complement existing NZTE economic development services and support schemes offered by the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology (FRST), Technology New Zealand (Tech NZ) and the Health Research Council (HRC).

The ANZBPF will support development, marketing and manufacturing initiatives between New Zealand and Australia; it is a not a research fund. NZTE may direct applicants to other NZTE, FRST or HRC funding schemes if the proposals received are deemed more suitable for these funds.

ENDS


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