BioScience Managers selects three companies for BTF investment

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BioScience Managers has selected CHARM Informatics, Saluda and REX Bionics, for investment from the Biomedical Translation Fund.

The company was one of three fund managers chosen to invest on behalf of government's $500 million Biomedical Translation Fund.

Of that total BioScience Managers is responsible for investing $100 million, half coming from government and the other half raised privately.

According to chief investment officer with BioScience Managers, Matt McNamara, the company will continue to exhaustively comb through up to 200 Australian public and private investment opportunities.

“Australia is very strong on scientific research and development but our record on commercialisation is not as strong and that is where the Biomedical Translation Fund managers can help to develop a brighter global outlook," he said. 

“That commercialisation stage is vital and companies need to be extremely tactical and form the right partnerships at the right time ensure the company has a strong future,’’ said Mr McNamara.

The Turnbull government welcomed the investments.

“Australia is a world leader in health and medical research but all too often, it takes many years and offshore investment to turn these discoveries into new and better options for patients,” said health minister Greg Hunt.

“This vital funding will support researchers when they need it most—for clinical testing, developing prototypes and other requirements before a high potential product or service can come on the market."

According to industry and innovation minister, Senator Arthur Sinodinos, “This is ‘smart money’ with innovation impact—stimulating the health and medical research sector and creating well-paid jobs for skilled Australians across a range of industries.

“The BTF is helping early stage biomedical companies to become internationally competitive, creating new markets for healthcare and producing better health outcomes."

The investments

“There is an urgent need for all of the data that is produced by medical devices to be collated in one place and we are confident CHARM Informatics has the technological and commercial advantages to become that platform,’’ said BioScience Managers’ managing director, Jeremy Curnock Cook.

“There are many different companies working in the medical informatics space focused on providing therapeutic, diagnostic, rehabilitation, and activity tracking data generating devices to improve outcomes and lower the cost of health care delivery, but we believe CHARM Informatics is unique in focusing on connecting this very wide range of medical devices designed for chronic use outside the hospital,’’ said Mr Curnock Cook.

“The big advantage CHARM Informatics offers is that its fee for service platform is deliberately designed to be open, scalable and integrated so that a multitude of devices can be added to the platform easily,’’ said CHARM Informatics CEO, Dr Jeff Gross.

Mr Curnock Cook said an integrated platform would offer significant clinical and cost advantages over existing paper and semi-online systems, particularly if new devices can easily be added as they are developed.

He said the company was also delighted to invest in Saluda Medical’s unique Evoke neuromodulation system.

“Saluda’s Evoke spinal cord stimulation system shows incredible promise in treating chronic back pain and other conditions, intelligently adjusting electrical stimulation to the spinal cord to match each individual patient’s needs in real time.

“This latest round of funding for Saluda Medical will allow the company to continue its pivotal US randomised, double blind clinical trial in 11 sites which will provide a pathway to allow the company to commercialise the Evoke system not only in the US but also in Europe and Australia.’’

The $3.3 million investment in Saluda Medical is part of a $53 million funding round for the private company led by major bioelectronics firm Action Potential Venture Capital.

“Action Potential are one of the leading investors in pioneering bioelectronics medicines and were set up by global pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK),’’ said Mr Curnock Cook.

On the investment in REX Bionics, Mr Curnock Cook said the company's robotic device is already transforming the lives of people with a range of mobility problems, including those with spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, brain injuries such as stroke and neuromuscular condition.

“This product has been in development for over a decade, and has racked up thousands of hours of user experience, helping to transform the lives of people with a range of mobility problems, stemming from spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, brain injuries and neuromuscular conditions,’’ said Mr Curnock Cook.

He said wheelchair users are at risk of developing many medical complications due to extended periods of sitting and REX allowed them to spend more time standing, walking and exercising.

“The health benefits of using REX include improved sleep and maintaining joint range, a reduction in spasm, pain and common abdominal problems and reducing prescription drug use,’’ added Mr Curnock Cook.