Qld government announces $20M support for new vaccine manufacturing facility
The Queensland State Government has announced that the Translational Research Institute, a medical research facility, will be receiving $20 million in funding to support the development of a new Translational Manufacturing Institute for vaccine manufacturing.
The funding comes from the new ‘Industry Partnership Program’, under the Palaszczuk Government’s new flagship $1.84 billion Queensland Jobs Fund.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the funding would accelerate development of one of the state’s most important health-research precincts and ramp up Australia’s capacity to develop our biomedical industry and manufacture vaccines.
“It will also support an estimated 500 jobs over 10 years,” the Premier said
Deputy Premier Steven Miles said the funding could allow Queensland to become a vaccine manufacturing location for the whole country.
“I want Queensland to lead the country in vaccine research, development, and manufacturing, and I’ve been talking to leading biomedical experts about how to do this. TMI@TRI was one of their strong recommendations,” Miles said.
Under the $1.84 billion fund, the government is working to supercharge the economic recovery, which Treasurer and Minister for Investment Cameron Dick said is focused on growing Queensland jobs and the state’s manufacturing base.
“If there is one thing that the pandemic has taught us, it is that we need to manufacture more things in Queensland, by Queenslanders, for Queenslanders,” Dick emphasized.
“This includes manufacturing more medical equipment, personal protective equipment, and vaccines right here in our backyard. We want to work with investors on high impact projects will create a new generation of jobs now and well into the future,” he said.
The support follows TRI’s submission of a detailed business case for TMI@TRI, which included intensive engagement with industry, government, research and health to ensure the facility will deliver on the priorities of all sectors.
TRI has also submitted a funding application in the ‘Translational’ stream of the federal government’s Modern Manufacturing Initiative, the outcome of which will be announced in the coming months.
TRI CEO, Professor Scott Bell, said that with combined State and Commonwealth funding, TRI could deliver an operational manufacturing facility within 18 months. It would be Australia’s first scale-up facility.
“Australia is missing the ability to manufacture new products in the quantities required to undertake pivotal clinical trials to prove the safety and effectiveness of novel therapies,” Professor Bell said.
“Until now, this lack of specialised facilities and expertise has forced our innovators to go overseas, resulting in the loss of jobs in manufacturing and clinical trials, and reduced ownership of the IP,” he said.
He continued that the establishment of the Translational Manufacturing Institute at TRI will support start-ups and translational researchers to advance their commercialisation and “hopefully keep them in Brisbane.” He said it will also help realise economic and export opportunities for the broader community.
“The provision of fully operational Good Manufacturing Practice cleanrooms will also see up to 100 people gain hands-on training in cleanroom processes and advanced manufacturing annually, creating a highly skilled workforce for the medtech industry,” Professor Bell said.
A national survey by TRI of medtech and biotech start-ups in 2020, revealed the need for start-ups to have access to globally renowned researchers for ongoing collaboration as well as specialist equipment and expertise to continuously improve their innovations to meet regulatory and market requirements.
Professor Ian Frazer AC FRS, co-inventor of the Gardasil vaccine for cervical cancer said because of Australia’s limited manufacturing capability for biological products in the 1970s, the cervical cancer vaccine was unable to be tested and manufactured locally.
“This meant that large-scale clinical trials were conducted overseas. This remains the case today,” Professor Frazer said.
“I’ve recently contributed to the development of two research products, a potential treatment for COVID-19 and an immunotherapy for head and neck cancer,” he revealed.
He continued that these were manufactured overseas, because of the lack of capacity to produce them locally.
“I would like to see Queensland help Australia to develop the capacity and capability to manufacture products like these here and TMI@TRI can help us achieve this,” he said.