Australian companies up for new Pfizer investment initiative

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Pfizer has announced a new US$500 million global initiative under which it will invest in clinical-stage public biotechnology companies.

The 'Pfizer Breakthrough Growth Initiative' will see the company focus on making non-controlling equity investments in clinical-stage public companies - Australian companies can apply.

The investments will target companies with small-to-medium-sized market capitalisations across a range of therapeutic categories consistent with Pfizer’s strategic focus - internal medicine, inflammation and immunology, oncology, rare disease, vaccines and hospital.

Pfizer said the companies that receive investment will also have the opportunity to access its global expertise and resources in research, clinical development and manufacturing.

Pfizer also said that, in addition to the therapeutic areas in which it has a strategic focus, it will consider companies developing treatments or vaccines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Dr Anand Gautam, executive director and emerging science lead at Pfizer Worldwide R&D, “Australia and the region remain a key geography for Pfizer’s R&D partnerships due to the very high quality of scientific discoveries here in areas such as biochemistry and immunology.

“In principle, the program is open to global biotech opportunities to invest in good science and novel therapeutics that address a significant unmet need for patients. If a discovery arises in Australia and aligns well with any of Pfizer’s core therapy areas, that will certainly be considered for potential investment.

"This also puts the onus on Australia’s biotech industry to highlight and communicate truly breakthrough and differentiated first-in-class discoveries to utilise this unique opportunity through the Pfizer Breakthrough Growth Initiative."

Dr Gautam continued, “We see application of the program locally where small to mid-size companies have a high quality and novel differentiated opportunity. For example, we see significant opportunity for growth in emerging areas of personalised medicines, such as (but not limited to) cancer immunotherapy and gene therapy. 

"Whilst the investment criteria focuses on the quality of the science, it must also meet Pfizer’s standards around process and regulatory requirements, as well as fair valuation of the partner company at the time of investment.  

“Pfizer is keen to engage and meet with companies to help them to understand Pfizer’s priorities in terms of our scientific focus. Then we want to see how the potential partner company could position its program to fit in with Pfizer’s ambitions to produce first-in-class breakthrough products to treat patients suffering from a range of illnesses worldwide.”