AusBiotech and Johnson & Johnson Innovation Industry Excellence Awards

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The AusBiotech and Johnson & Johnson Innovation Industry Excellence Awards have been announced at the AusBiotech 2016 national conference, held as part of the International BioFest 2016.

The Awards recognise innovative companies and individuals in Australia’s world-class biotechnology, medical technology and healthcare sectors.

Professor Andrew Wilks was recognised for his role in the development of the Australian biotechnology sector over the last 20 years.

Driven and enthusiastic about the commercial development of home-grown science, Professor Wilks has worked at the interface of the academic and business worlds to establish an impressive list of successful biotechnology companies. These include Synthesis Medchem, Qubist Molecular Design, Synthesis Research, Synkinase, Reagency and Cytopia Research, which developed a JAK1/2 inhibitor momelotinib that was purchased for US$510m.

Company of the year Protagonist Therapeutics is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering and developing peptide-based new chemical entities to address significant unmet medical need.

Compared to injectable antibody drugs, the oral peptides developed by Protagonist Therapeutics offer targeted delivery to the gastrointestinal tissue compartment, the potential for improved safety due to minimal exposure in the blood, improved convenience and compliance due to oral delivery, and the opportunity for earlier introduction of targeted therapy for inflammatory bowel disease.

Protagonist Therapeutics was founded by Mark Smythe, current Vice President of Technology & Alliances of Protagonist.

Emerging company of the year ResApp Health was recognised for its development of digital healthcare solutions, which have assisted doctors and empowered patients to diagnose and manage respiratory disease.

ResApp implemented a machine learning approach to develop highly-accurate algorithms to diagnose the disease from cough and respiratory sounds. Ultimately, this work developed into a powerful platform for respiratory disease diagnosis and management that used modern smartphones to integrate seamlessly into existing telehealth solutions. Last year, ResApp completed a $4m capital raising to list on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX).

Glenn Cross, AusBiotech’s Chief Executive Officer, commended the winners.

“The AusBiotech and Johnson & Johnson Innovation Industry Excellence Awards represent the leading success stories of Australian biotechnology. The companies and individuals recognised by these Awards have made a valuable contribution to the sector over the years, driven by passion for innovation and technical excellence in biotechnology,” he said

The Awards were announced at the AusBiotech 2016 national conference on Monday 24 October. AusBiotech 2016 is currently being held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre as part of the International BioFest 2016, the largest-ever gathering in the Australian life sciences, running from the 24-27 October 2016.

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