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BRW Start-up of the Year

February 13, 2012

BRW this week announced the 10 best start-ups for 2011, and OneVentures investment Vaxxas was amongst the 10...

In an effort to support and promote the efforts of the founders of start-up businesses, BRW has produced a list of the top start-ups of 2011. We hope their success stories will inspire and help others who are contemplating stepping away from the comfort of a salaried position and launching a business of their own.

Judging start-up businesses is a difficult task. For most of BRWs lists, businesses are assessed based on historical revenue results or the size of their balance sheets. But start-up businesses don't have track records.

Eligibility for the Top Start-Ups list was determined by qualitative assessments of soundness of the ideas behind each business, the founders' commitment to the cause and their opportunity for growth.

Technology-related businesses feature prominently. It was not BRWs intention to produce a list that was skewed towards tech companies but the weight of evidence made it unavoidable.

Source: BRW

Notable achievement: Raising $15 million, the most ever by a start-up biotechnology / medical devices company

Prevention is better than cure, and cheaper, which is why 1.6 billion doses of various vaccines were administered around the world last year – at a cost of $US21 billion.

However, the technology that delivers vaccines, the needle and syringe, is fraught with risks, complications and limitations. A new Australian company, Vaxxas, is leading the world in the next generation of vaccine delivery – it's called the Nanopatch™.

The needle is better than it was when it was first used in 1853 but no one really likes a jab. That pain is an impediment for adults and children and stops some returning for booster shots. Training is needed to give an injection safely and effectively.

And, as Mark Kendall, the pioneer of the Nanopatch™, has established, vaccine injections deliver the treatment into muscles, which have few immune cells. The Nanopatch™ has thousands of small projections designed to deliver the vaccine to the abundant immune cells in the skin.

The race to develop a vaccine patch is intense, but past efforts have foundered at the manufacturing stage, according to Paul Kelly, an investment manager with OneVentures, the lead venture capital company backing Vaxxas.

"The problem is finding a way to manufacture the patches and coat them with vaccine in industrial quantities," he says. "We believe we have a very strong intellectual property position for manufacturing at scale."

OneVentures co-invested with Brandon Capital, the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund and HealthCare Ventures, an American company that has invested $US1.6 billion in more than 100 companies over 25-plus years.

The $15 million will take the Nanopatch™ into human trials. All investors have committed to contributing the same amount in a second round if necessary, putting the start-up on a good footing to negotiate with tough global pharmaceutical companies.

By Kath Walters
Read the entire article on BRW