AIBN start-up companies

AIBN has established an enviable track record in developing products and creating companies based on AIBN technology. Start-up companies have been formed across diverse fields including drug delivery, vaccines and advanced materials.

Four start-up companies currently operate largely or exclusively out of AIBN. Institute researchers founded three companies to develop AIBN technology, while Acyte, founded by Professor Peter Gray, was brought to AIBN from UNSW.

The start-up companies are distinct entities, with their own management structures, boards and finances. AIBN provides facilities, equipment and, through UQ’s commercialisation company UniQuest, a level of specialist support, such as management of patents and commercial advice. Institute researchers are intimately involved with the companies, ensuring a close connection between ongoing research within AIBN and development and commercialisation of each company’s technology.

Scaled Biolabs Inc (Founded 2016)

Scaled Biolabs Inc is based on multi-channel microfluidic technology developed in Professor Justin Cooper-White’s laboratory at AIBN. The company will work on developing microdevices that rapidly survey cellular microenvironments for ideal growing conditions or to optimise cellular responses.

Xing Technologies Pty Ltd (Founded 2013)

Xing Technologies Pty Ltd is a spin-out company founded around three patented technologies which came from the laboratory of Professor Matt Trau. These include nanotechnologies for nucleic acid, protein and rare cell detection. The company has concluded a Series A investment round, successful deals with national and international companies and is currently growing its operations.

Vaxxas Inc (Founded 2011)

Vaxxas Inc was founded in September 2011, through $15 million of venture capital investment, to develop and commercialise the Nanopatch technology created in Professor Mark Kendall’s laboratory. Nanopatch is a novel, needle-free means of delivering vaccines via the skin. Animal studies demonstrated that the Nanopatch can deliver 100 times less vaccine compared to conventional vaccine delivery and still achieve an effective immune response. To date, Vaxxas has raised over $40 million in venture capital and has major collaborations with Merck and Co and the World Health Organization.

Upon establishment, Professor Mark Kendall was the company Founder, Director and Chief Technology Officer. UniQuest led the initial commercialisation of the Nanopatch technology prior to Vaxxas being created.

During 2012, Vaxxas entered into a research partnership with Merck and Co, one of the major international players in the vaccine business. In 2015, Vaxxas attracted $25 million in series B financing, bringing total capital raising to $40 million.

Professor Kendall and Vaxxas have won a number of national and international awards for the Nanopatch technology, including the prestigious Rolex award in 2012, the BioSpectrum Asia-Pacific Emerging Company of the Year Award in 2013 and the CSL Young Florey Medal in 2016.

TenasiTech Pty Ltd (Founded 2007)

TenasiTech Pty Ltd is an advanced materials technology company, arising from research in Professor Darren Martin’s laboratory. TenasiTech operates in the area of nanocomposites and nanofillers, where sparing additions can efficiently improve the mechanical properties and performance of a range of thermoplastic polymers. The company was founded in 2007 and financed through an investment from Uniseed and angel investors, and grants from the State Government and Commercialisation Australia. To date, in total TenasiTech has raised approximately $6 million in co-leveraged government and venture capital funds.

In 2006, TenasiTech licensed the UQ IP for its technology platform of high performance additives for thermoplastics (TPU, PMMA, PA, PET). Following successful scale-up of the nano-additives to tonnage quantities in 2014-15, the first significant revenue and products were achieved in 2016. TenasiTech is the first start-up from AIBN to fully scale-up a technology, and was the first Queensland company to be awarded a Commercialisation Australia “Proof of Concept” grant and successfully complete their strict milestones. Professor Martin received the UQ EAIT Faculty Commercialisation Award in 2010 for this enterprise, and the company was also a state finalist in the 2015 Telstra Business Awards.

TenasiTech now has three granted patents:

  • D.J. Martin and G.A. Edwards, The University of Queensland, “Polymer Composite” – Priority Aug 30, 2004, PCT May 19, 2005 (WO/2006/024068), First Granted 9 Dec 2010 (AU, CAN, USA);
  • D.J. Martin and G.A. Edwards, The University of Queensland, “Polymer Composites Having Particles With Mixed Organic Modifications” – Priority Apr 15, 2008, PCT Apr 15, 2009 (WO/2009/127000), First Granted 21 Jan 2014 (USA, EU, AU); and
  • D.J. Martin, G.A. Edwards and C. Chaleat, The University of Queensland, “Scratch resistant polymers” – Priority Jun 6, 2013, PCT Jun 5, 2014 (WO/2014/194380) (AU, BRA, CHN, IND, USA, EU).

Currently active spin-ins

Stem Cells Ltd (Founded 2011)

A UQ-affiliated company involving UQ and Monash University joint activity to provide stem cell core activities, with the company’s Brisbane node carrying out its work from AIBN laboratories.

 

ACYTE Biotech Pty Ltd (Founded 2000, UNSW)

ACYTE Biotech Pty Ltd was founded by Professor Peter Gray at UNSW as a vehicle for developing and commercialising cell culture technologies. When Professor Gray was appointed AIBN’s inaugural Director, he moved ACYTE and integrated many of its activities into his AIBN research group.

ACYTE is focused on enhancing the productivity and yield of high-value products from Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells. ACYTE’s proprietary technologies in CHO cell expression allow for rapid generation of recombinant protein for early drug development studies, and the generation of highly-productive CHO cell lines for therapeutic production of recombinant protein.

The company conducts fee-for-service activities and licences its technology to clients. ACYTE’s co-location with the NBF at AIBN leverages the pre-eminent skills and equipment of the Gray Group.

In 2010, UniQuest became a shareholder, and began providing IP management and commercialisation support as it does for AIBN founded start-up companies.