Thursday, May 20, 2010
Australian-first: $250m biotech fund to drive innovation out of Qld
The Bligh Government has secured an Australian-first venture capital fund which provides unprecedented international financial backing to drive ideas and innovation in Queensland.
Premier Anna Bligh today announced the venture capital fund between the Queensland Government, global biopharmaceutical leader Eli Lilly and Company, and other strategic US partners - which will create an investment fund of up to USD$250 million to back the expansion and development of the Queensland and Australian biotechnology industry.
The Queensland Government is investing $25 million in the venture capital fund. Lilly will contribute up to 20 percent of the total funding, while other strategic investors will also participate.
“Today represents a turning point in support for home-grown ideas and innovation,” Ms Bligh said today.
“We have just secured a major venture capital fund with several prominent names in the US to provide the financial muscle needed to bring Queensland ideas and innovation to the commercial stage right at home in our own backyard.
“By keeping the innovation in Queensland, our scientists and researchers will be able to secure even more of the USD$5 trillion intellectual property rights market in the US.
“This is a huge opportunity to drive investment in ideas that will create businesses – and jobs - in regional economies, such as in Queensland’s tropical north.
“We are making a strategic investment of $25 million in this venture capital fund because it goes to the heart of our vision of having a strong Queensland economy powered by bright ideas. These funds are sourced from the Future Growth Fund.
“We have a plan to make Queensland's biotechnology industry worth $20 billion and employ 16,000 people by 2025 – and today’s announcement is a giant step forward.
“This fund, which will have its Asia-Pacific headquarters in Brisbane, makes Queensland a key biotechnology hub in the Asia Pacific region. It will be run out of Brisbane but will also invest throughout Queensland, Australia and SE Asia.”
Eli Lilly and Company is a global, biopharmaceutical company based in Indiana, USA. With approximately 39,000 employees worldwide and annual revenues of more than $20 billion, Lilly is working to discover and develop innovative medicines for people with unmet medical needs in areas such as cancer, depression, diabetes, cardiovascular and Alzheimer's diseases.
Lilly already has substantial links in Queensland with a strategic investment in St Lucia-based biotech firm Protagonist. They have also run a number of drug development and clinical trials programmes in Queensland. Eli Lilly Australia, one of the company’s top ten affiliates, is celebrating its 50-year anniversary in 2010.
Ms Bligh met with senior Lilly executives during her recent trade mission to the BIO 2010 conference in Chicago to help secure the deal.
Peter Vermeer, Director of Corporate Affairs and Health Economics at Lilly Australia, said the alliance recognised the many high quality investment opportunities arising from Queensland’s universities and research institutes.
“We see enormous potential in Queensland’s biotechnology sector,” he said.
“This alliance will bring together leading industry players in Queensland, the US and Asia so that emerging Queensland biotechnology companies have access to the funds, advice and partnership opportunities they need to advance their technology to commercialisation.
“We look forward to working closely with the local industry to maximise the full potential of the Queensland biotech sector,” Mr Vermeer said.