Janssen Industry Excellence Awards announced at AusBiotech 2012

Posted: 2012-11-01 in Press Releases

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media release
1 November 2012

Janssen Industry Excellence Awards announced at AusBiotech 2012
Company of the Year: Starpharma
• Emerging Company of the Year: Vaxxas
• Industry Leadership award: Dr Andrew Baker (posthumous)

Melbourne-based Starpharma has been named “Company of the Year” at Australia’s premier annual gathering of the life sciences and biotechnology industries.

A gala event was held in Melbourne last night to officially launch AusBiotech 2012, and three awards were presented to honour the ‘shining lights’ of the sector.

The Janssen 2012 Industry Excellence Award for Company of the Year was handed to Starpharma while Brisbane-based Vaxxas was announced as Emerging Company of the Year (award for companies under 5 years of age).

The late Dr Andrew Baker was announced posthumously as a recipient of the Industry Leadership award.

AusBiotech’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr Anna Lavelle, said each had made a significant contribution to the sector, and to the ongoing growth of Australia’s bio-economy.

“These awards recognise the standard-bearers for excellence in our industry,” Dr Lavelle said. “They also point to what can be achieved when scientific innovation is accompanied by the business acumen needed to bring novel medicines, medical devices and other new technologies to key markets.”

“We should be proud not only that Australia has produced and supported these endeavours, but that they also show huge potential to improve the lives of people around the globe.”

Starpharma is nearing completion of Phase III clinical trials of VivaGel – the first targeted treatment for the world’s most common vaginal infection. Vaxxas is developing a method of delivering vaccines via a Nanopatch placed on the skin.

The late Dr Andrew Baker was a 28-year veteran of the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, and helped to found several listed Australian companies.

Sponsors of the Awards, Janssen-Cilag Pty Ltd, are pleased to congratulate the winners. Managing Director, Chris Hourigan, said: “Janssen is delighted to sponsor the Janssen Industry Excellence Awards. Australia is a recognised global hub of innovation and we are constantly impressed by the high calibre of science, spirit of collaboration and commercial acumen demonstrated by Australian biotechnology companies and researchers and, in particular, the winners of this year’s awards. ”

The AusBiotech conference is the largest event of its kind in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region for the biotechnology industry. AusBiotech 2012 will be held at the Melbourne Convention Centre, 30 October – 2 November.

More information on the award recipients is included below.


Media enquiries:
Lorraine Chiroiu, Media & Communications Manager Email: lchiroiu@ausbiotech.org
P: +61 (0) 3 9828 1400
M: +61 (0) 429 801 118

Starpharma – Company of the Year

Melbourne-based Starpharma is an ASX 300 listed biotechnology company, which has a market capitalisation nearing $500 million.  It has an advancing product portfolio (a near to final Phase III trial) and strategic global partners in diagnostics (Siemens), devices (Ansell, Okamoto), pharmaceuticals (GSK, Eli Lilly, AstraZeneca) and agrochemicals (Nufarm and a number of unnamed multinational agrochemical companies). Starpharma’s dendrimer technology (a nanotechnology) was discovered in Australia, has been developed in Australia and has received funding support from the Government, the world’s leading public health body The National Institutes of Health, and investors from all corners of the globe. The broad applicability of this technology has opened up multiple product opportunities in pharmaceutical, drug delivery and agrochemicals. Starphama’s lead product is VivaGel, the most advanced microbicide under development to treat a range of women’s health ailments. Two concurrent Phase III pivotal trials investigating VivaGel as a treatment for bacterial vaginosis (BV) are expected to be concluded later this year. The completion of Phase III trials will pave the way for Starpharma to submit a New Drug Application to the US FDA for VivaGel as a treatment for BV. The global market for topical treatments for BV is estimated at US $300-$350 million. If successful, Starpharma will join a small group of Australian companies that have developed and commercialised a new chemical entity.

Vaxxas – Emerging Company of the Year

Vaxxas Pty Ltd is a privately-held Australian biotechnology company focused on enhancing the performance  of existing and next generation vaccines with its proprietary Nanopatch technology platform. Vaxxas’ Nanopatch contains an ultra-high density array of projections – invisible to the naked human eye – that are dry-coated with vaccine. Application of the Nanopatch to the skin is pain free and rapidly delivers the vaccine to the abundant immune cell population immediately below the skin surface. In a wide range of preclinical studies Nanopatch delivery of vaccine achieves equivalent protective immunity as the needle and syringe – but with only one hundredth (1/100th) of the dose. It has also been shown that Vaxxas’ proprietary dry- coating technology can eliminate the need for vaccine refrigeration during storage and transportation – removing the resource burden of maintaining the “cold chain”. Vaxxas’ Nanopatch technology originated from Professor Mark Kendall's research group at the Australian Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology at The University of Queensland. Vaxxas is backed by a strong group of venture investors including One  Ventures, Brandon Capital, Healthcare Ventures, and the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund, who invested $15million into the venture. Vaxxas is establishing operations in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to expand access to global pharmaceutical partners and complement the company’s research and development operations based in Queensland.

Dr Andrew Baker – Industry Leadership Award

The late Dr Andrew Baker was a veteran of 28 years’ experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. This included work in the USA for companies including Genentech, Bayer and Johnson & Johnson. More recently as a Partner at GBS Venture Partners, Dr Baker helped to found several listed companies in Australia, assisting them with commercial growth and product development. He was on the board of Hatchtech Pty Ltd, Spinifex Pty Ltd, Verva Ltd and Xenome Ltd. Dr Baker held a Bachelor of Science with Honours in genetics from the University of Sydney, and completed his PhD in Philosophy at the Australian National University, in Canberra. He passed away on Sunday 18 March 2012 from cancer at the age of 50. Dr Baker is survived by his wife Nancy, son Sam and daughter Clare.