Bridge Program Success Stories: Australian Researchers & Entrepreneurs Making Their Mark

22 August 2018

The Bridge Program 2017 alumni is demonstrating their pharmaceutical commercialisation success just six months after completing the inaugural offering of this effective program.

The Bridge Program is a professional development program that draws on the global pharmaceutical industry to equip researchers and entrepreneurs with the enhanced skills, knowledge and networks to bring new medicines to market.

Participants recently completed a voluntary survey to capture their developments in the pharmaceutical sector since completing QUT’s The Bridge Program.

Out of a cohort of 101 participants, reports of significant developments include:

  • 10 patents completed or initiated by participants
  • 8 start-ups initiated or assisted by participants
  • 5 R&D contracts completed or initiated by participants
  • 5 licenses completed or initiated by participants

Dr Peter van Wijngaarden, of the Centre for Eye Research Australia and the University of Melbourne is part of the 2017 alumni who is taking substantial steps to bring new developments in the area of ophthalmology (eye health) to market.

“Since my participation in the Bridge Program I have been actively engaged in translational research,” he said.

Dr van Wijngaarden reports filing 2 patents, beginning a start-up company, initiating a license for IP, securing 2 separate grants and is soon embarking on a major fundraising drive.

“My involvement in the Bridge Program helped me to embark on this research commercialisation process and equipped me with some fundamental knowledge about the sector and key steps in the process,” he said.

The timelines for the pharmaceutical development chain are often long and slow moving, where the average commercialisation journey for a new medicine to go from lab to market is around 10 years.

Thus to be able to capture the following results after only six months is a testament to the connective, collaborative and productive nature of The Bridge Program.

The Bridge Program was awarded industry-matched funding by MTPConnect, the Industry Growth Centre for the medical technology, biotechnology and pharmaceutical sector, in 2016.

MTPConnect CEO, Dr. Dan Grant, will be speaking at the Bridge Program Occasional Seminar in Melbourne on 22 August —he says the project is all about translating Australian science into highly valuable products.

“MTPConnect backed this project because of its potential to strengthen commercialisation skills and business acumen in Australia’s life science sector, and the early results with new patents and start-ups are very promising,” Dr. Grant said.

“Enhanced collaboration is another real upside, with program participants able to build connections with businesses locally and internationally, linkages which will inform new and improved ways to execute research and development.”

This seminar is to be held at Bio21 Institute in Melbourne. In addition to Dr. Grant, consortium partners, current participants and the 2017 alumni will also hear from Professor Darren Kelly, CEO and Managing Director of Certa Therapeutics.

Prof Lyn Griffiths, Executive Director of IHBI (Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, QUT) and Project Director of The Bridge Program said, “The Bridge Program contributes to the cohesion and enriches the connectedness of the Australian pharmaceutical sector”.

“Creating opportunities and connections in this sector encourages R&D thus benefiting the wider Australian community via their healthcare needs and through the economic benefits of the growth of this sector” she said.

Convened and administered by QUT, The Bridge Program involves the input and advice from The Bridge Program consortium who contribute to the development and delivery of the program, including:

  • AbbVie
  • Amgen
  • Australian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb
  • Boehringer Ingelheim
  • Celgene
  • CSL
  • Janssen-Cilag
  • Macquarie University
  • Medicines Australia
  • Medical Research Commercialisation Fund
  • MSD
  • Mundipharma
  • Novartis Pharmaceuticals
  • Pfizer