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Cicada Innovations to operate new Melbourne-based biotech incubator to drive translation of world-class medical research

- CSL, WEHI and The University of Melbourne jointly announce the appointment of Cicada Innovations as the independent operator of the new biotech incubator which will be located in CSL’s new Global Headquarters currently under construction in the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct.
- Cicada’s appointment as operator follows the project partners joining forces to create an incubator and commercial wet lab space for biotech start-up companies, with the Victorian Government’s landmark Breakthrough Victoria Fund providing funding to support the $95 million project.
- It will be Australia’s first and only incubator that is co-located with a leading biopharmaceutical company, providing all of the wrap around support start-ups need to translate Australian medical research into new treatments and therapies.

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - 3 NOVEMBER 2022: CSL, WEHI, and the University of Melbourne today announced the appointment of an independent operator to oversee and manage the new start-up incubator which will support and grow early-stage Australian biotech companies, providing both lab and office spaces.

Cicada Innovations, a Sydney-based deep-tech incubator, will be responsible for establishing operations and overseeing day-to-day management of the incubator and its residents.  

The incubator, to be located at CSL’s new global corporate headquarters under construction in the world-leading Melbourne Biomedical Precinct, will support start-up companies to translate promising medical research into commercial outcomes. 

Drawing on Experience
Experienced in establishing and running incubators in Australia, Cicada was selected following a competitive global search.  Cicada has a successful track record of supporting ventures to create life-changing technology by applying cutting-edge science and a strong national presence coupled with global reach. Twice named ‘top incubator in the world’ by International Business Incubator Association, Cicada has helped incubated start-ups raise over $1.5B in funding, achieve over $1.3B in exits and trade sales, file over 600 patents, and launch over 700 innovations globally.

WEHI Director, Professor Doug Hilton AO, said that the appointment of Cicada is an important step forward for the incubator.

“The incubator is vital for building a critical mass of management-skilled scientists who have the knowledge and confidence to run successful biomed and biotech companies,” he said.

“Ultimately the incubator will accelerate translational outputs to take scientific discoveries to the next stage of development faster.

“Cicada’s unique experience, underpinned by a wealth of knowledge about Australia’s biotech ecosystem and the unique challenges facing start-ups here, will provide a launchpad for incubator residents to translate medical research to successful commercial outcomes.”

Dr. Andrew Nash, CSL’s Chief Scientific Officer and Senior Vice President, Research, said, “Incubator residents will be working in an innovation-driven environment alongside a large and focused CSL R&D team, enabling opportunities for peer-collaboration, learning and sharing of ideas.”

Sally-Ann Williams, CEO Cicada Innovations said, “Global health challenges require collaboration between all parts of the ecosystem to bring solutions to market. The opportunity to connect Australia’s world leading biomedical research with the support needed to translate discoveries to products in market is one that will benefit Australia as a whole. This incubator can be a catalyst nationally for growth in commercial biotech outcomes for Australia and we are delighted to help bring that vision to life.”

Role of the Incubator Operator

The incubator will be open to applications from small biotech companies who have engaged in early research and are seeking to take their discoveries to the next stage of development. Operated by Cicada, the incubator will provide affordable, state-of-the-art wet-lab facilities, equipment and office space to start-ups. Cicada  will provide a range of services, including commercialisation education programs, facilitated access to investors, industry mentoring and access to service providers for incubator residents, ensuring the creation and ongoing success of a vibrant biotech ecosystem within the incubator.

University of Melbourne Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Jim McCluskey said the appointment of Cicada, with its depth of experience and understanding of the support required by research scientists to nurture biomedical start-ups, is substantial progress in establishing Australia’s leading incubator.

“Once the incubator is operational it will accelerate the translation of promising medical research into biotech inventions and commercial outcomes, provoking new collaborations while addressing the challenges facing the community,” Professor McCluskey said.

Community of Support

Made possible with financial and in-kind support from CSL, one of the world’s largest biotech companies, University of Melbourne and WEHI, together with investment partner Breakthrough Victoria, an independent company managing the $2 billion Breakthrough Victoria Fund, the incubator is scheduled to open to start-ups in 2024 and will be able to accommodate up to 40 early-stage companies from around Australia and internationally.

CSL’s Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Andrew Nash said incubator residents will benefit from Cicada’s operational expertise and proven track record of incubator management as well as its location within CSL’s new Global headquarters and Australian R&D hub.

“The strong collaboration between CSL, the University of Melbourne, WEHI, Breakthrough Victoria and now Cicada Innovations has been critical to bring the incubator to fruition and reflects CSL’s values and desire to deliver on our promise to patients worldwide. As Australia’s largest biotech, we can share our extensive knowledge with resident biotech start-ups who will have access to the wrap around support they need to translate their medical research into new treatments and therapies,” he said.

About the Biotech Incubator

Incubators reduce barriers to entry for start-ups through an affordable ‘one-stop shop’ that provides access to expert technical support and sophisticated technology platforms which can be expensive and cost-prohibitive to small companies. Start-ups that are incubated have a much higher five-year survival rate and accelerated growth trajectory compared with standalone entities.1

Many of Australia’s greatest medical research breakthroughs have been built upon national collaborations. This incubator will build on this history and will be open to all high-quality early-stage spinouts from the precinct, across Victoria, around Australia and internationally.

Breakthrough Victoria CEO, Grant Dooley said, “Breakthrough Victoria is proud to be investing in the biotech incubator, which will give start-ups access to industry expertise and specialised lab and clinical facilities and infrastructure to develop and commercialise their innovations.”

Located over two floors of CSL’s new corporate headquarters being built in the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct, the incubator will have one floor of purpose-built wet lab space and another for meetings, office and collaboration space. There, the incubator will be embedded alongside seven floors of leading-edge laboratory and clinical manufacturing space supporting CSL’s own R&D program, in which the company has invested more than US$1 billion globally the past fiscal year.

The incubator is expected to open by early 2024 and welcomes expressions of interest from start-ups across Australia and internationally. Start-ups interested in applying for residence in the incubator are encouraged to email incubator@csl.com.au.

References: 1. SPP Approach, Cicada Innovations & AlphaBeta Report, 2020

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CSL media contact
Kim O’Donohue
Phone: +61 449 884 603
kim.odonohue@csl.com.au

University of Melbourne media contact
Genevieve Costigan
Phone: +61 421 956 036
gco@unimeb.edu.au

WEHI media contact
Hashela Kumarawansa
+61 475 751 811
communications@wehi.edu.au

Cicada Innovations media contact
Erika Streegan
Phone: +61 401 788 399
erika@thirdhemisphere.com.au

About WEHI WEHI is where the world’s brightest minds collaborate and innovate to make life-changing scientific discoveries that help people live healthier for longer. Our medical researchers have been serving the community for more than 100 years, making transformative discoveries in cancers, infectious and immune diseases, developmental disorders, and healthy ageing. WEHI brings together diverse and creative people with different experience and expertise to solve some of the world’s most complex health problems. With partners across science, health, government, industry, and philanthropy, we are committed to long-term discovery, collaboration and translation. At WEHI, we are brighter together. Find out more at www.wehi.edu.au

About The University of Melbourne The University of Melbourne is a global leader in higher education where brilliant minds come together to address important questions and tackle grand challenges. We equip our students with a future-facing education personalised around their ambitions, enriched by global perspectives and embedded in a collaborative research culture. As active citizens and future leaders, they represent our greatest contribution to the world. We engage our communities to ensure that education and research is inspired by need and for the benefit of society. In this, we remain true to our purpose and will fulfil our mission as a public-spirited institution dedicated to the principles of fairness, equality and excellence in everything we do.

About CSL CSL (ASX:CSL; USOTC:CSLLY) is a leading global biotechnology company with a dynamic portfolio of lifesaving medicines, including those that treat haemophilia and immune deficiencies, vaccines to prevent influenza, and therapies in iron deficiency, dialysis and nephrology. Since our start in 1916, we have been driven by our promise to save lives using the latest technologies. Today, CSL – including our three businesses, CSL Behring, CSL Seqirus and CSL Vifor – provides lifesaving products to patients in more than 100 countries and employs 30,000 people. Our unique combination of commercial strength, R&D focus and operational excellence enables us to identify, develop and deliver innovations so our patients can live life to the fullest. For inspiring stories about the promise of biotechnology, visit CSLBehring.com/Vita and follow us on Twitter.com/CSL. For more information about CSL, visit www.CSL.com.

About Cicada Innovations (www.cicadainnovations.com) is the home of deep tech in Australia, with a twenty year track record of developing deep tech ventures as they discover solutions to the world’s most pressing problems and promising opportunities. Working at the forefront of innovation, our ventures seek to create life-changing technology – applying cutting-edge science such as advanced materials, synthetic biology and AI to challenges like the future of human health, food security and the climate crisis. Established in 2000, by our founding shareholders – ANU, UNSW, USYD and UTS – our incubator and community brings together the fields of business, engineering and science to solve complex challenges.

Since inception, Cicada has seen an unprecedented $1.3 billion in exits from six deep tech ventures in the last two decades, and helped over 300 companies to raise more than $1.5 billion in funding. It has twice been awarded ‘Top Incubator in the World’ by InBIA, and delivered commercialisation training to thousands working in science & technology.  

About Breakthrough Victoria Breakthrough Victoria was established in 2021 to manage the $2 billion Breakthrough Victoria Fund. Breakthrough Victoria invests in innovations with commercial potential to transform the health and life sciences, digital technologies, advanced manufacturing, agri-food and clean economy sectors. Breakthrough Victoria invests in innovation for impact and generate jobs and prosperity for Victoria over the long-term. Learn more at breakthroughvictoria.com