UQ congratulates startup Vaxxas on $30M partnership with US government

13 October 2020


A startup company developing technology based on University of Queensland research will partner with the US Government to test its needle-free vaccine delivery technology.

Vaxxas, founded by UQ commercialisation company UniQuest in 2011, will receive $A30 million (US$22 million) through the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to support pandemic deployment of their high-density micro-array patch (HD-MAP).

The initial focus will be on a pandemic influenza vaccine but Vaxxas will also investigate opportunities to improve the performance of other pandemic vaccines including against COVID-19.

The patches, developed from research originating from UQ’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, use thousands of tiny projections to deliver a vaccine to the immune cells just beneath the skin’s surface. 

The approach could significantly reduce the need for vaccine refrigeration and storage and result in the production of more doses from limited quantities of vaccine.

UniQuest CEO Dr Dean Moss said the company’s ongoing success was testament to the expertise and commitment of its team, and the quality of research behind it.

“The Vaxxas technology is poised to have a significant humanitarian impact across the globe, and I’m delighted to see their ongoing success,” Dr Moss said.

“The company continues to show what can be achieved through the sustained support and championing of research and innovation.

“Vaxxas is at the cutting edge; a problem solver and an exciting prospect, and I congratulate all who have worked hard to achieve this tremendous outcome.”

AIBN Director Professor Alan Rowan said Vaxxas was proof that investment in research improved the prospects of local and global communities.

“The success of Vaxxas is creating jobs as part of the innovation economy, and could improve the distribution and safety of vaccines globally,” Professor Rowan said.

“The attraction of international funding for this Queensland company demonstrates the benefits of investing in capabilities and an environment that fosters the translation of scientific excellence.

“I look forward to seeing the next steps that Vaxxas takes in its journey from an idea in an AIBN laboratory to the market.”

The Queensland Government announced on 4 October that it will partner with Vaxxas to establish a facility at Brisbane’s Northshore Hamilton for the manufacture of products for late stage (Phase II and III) clinical studies.

The company is partnering with global biotechnology company Merck (MSD) and German pharmaceutical manufacturer Harro Höfliger to support further development of the vaccine patch.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Health Organization are supporting the investigation of the vaccine patch for use with measles and rubella, and polio vaccines in low to middle income countries.