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.

Vaxxas Pty Ltd

Vaxxas was founded in 2011 to develop and commercialise the Nanopatch technology created in AIBN Professor Mark Kendall’s laboratory. Nanopatch is a novel, needle-free means of delivering vaccines via the skin. Animal studies demonstrated a Nanopatch can deliver 100 times less vaccine compared to conventional vaccine delivery and still achieve an effective immune response.

Vaxxas received strong backing from a syndicate of venture capital investors, comprising One Ventures, Medical Research Commercialisation Fund, Brandon Capital and Healthcare Ventures, with a commitment of $15 million in Series A financing. It has also entered into a research partnership with Merck and Co, a major international pharmaceutical company in the vaccine business. Vaxxas is extremely well placed, financially and technically, to lead development of the next generation of vaccine delivery.

TenasiTech Pty Ltd

TenasiTech is an advanced materials technology company, arising from research in AIBN Professor Darren Martin’s laboratory. TenasiTech develops nanocomposites and nanofillers, improving the mechanical properties and performance of polymers such as polyurethanes and acrylics. The company was founded in 2007 and financed through an investment from Uniseed and grants from the Queensland Government and Commercialisation Australia.

TenasiTech has demonstrated that incorporating its ‘adaptive polyols’ and masterbatches into polyurethanes and acrylics leads to substantial improvements in strength, flexibility, dimensional stability, thermo-stability and scratch resistance.

The technology has the potential to deliver tangible and valuable improvements to a wide range of moulded or extruded products and foams. TenasiTech is collaborating with domestic and international companies to identify and develop the most compelling applications for its technology.

Pepfactants Pty Ltd

Pepfactants is a materials science company developing a novel class of reversible surfactants based on patented research from AIBN’s Professor Anton Middelberg and Dr Annette Dexter. The company uses helical peptides with the unique ability to reversibly stabilise or break emulsions and foam by controlling the interfacial layer’s behaviour.

The Pepfactants technology has potential applications in industrial and pharmaceutical settings. Initial efforts have focused on industrial applications, such as use in the oil industry. For example, the switchable surfactants could be used to improve the yield of oil from wells, thereby increasing the well’s profitability or life cycle.

ACYTE Biotech Pty Ltd

ACYTE was founded by Professor Peter Gray at UNSW as a vehicle for developing and commercialising cell culture technologies created in his laboratory. When Professor Gray was appointed AIBN’s founding director, he moved ACYTE and integrated 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 National Biologics Facility at AIBN leverages the pre-eminent skills and equipment of the Gray research group.