Life sciences industry’s highest achievers celebrated at prestigious Awards ceremony

AusBiotech and Johnson & Johnson Innovation Industry Excellence Awards

  • Industry Leadership Award: Professors Steve Wilton AO and Sue Fletcher AO
  • Company of the Year: Telix Pharmaceuticals
  • Emerging Company of the Year: Fusetec

AusBiotech Life Sciences Legacy Award: Dr Andrew Forrest AO and Nicola Forrest AO

Biotech’s illustrious Industry Excellence Awards were announced today at the AusBiotech 2022 national conference in Perth – recognising outstanding contribution and achievement. The AusBiotech and Johnson & Johnson Innovation Industry Excellence Awards recognise innovative companies and individuals in Australia’s world-class biotechnology, medical technology and healthcare sectors.

Dr Andrew Forrest AO and Nicola Forrest AO were also awarded the AusBiotech Life Sciences Legacy Award in recognition of their generous and active support of medical research and Australian life science innovation.

AusBiotech’s Chief Executive Officer, Lorraine Chiroiu, said: “These prestigeous Awards act as a celebration of the cutting-edge innovation excellence happening across the country and the extraordinary progress that these individuals and companies have contributed to the health of Australians, and to the growth of the sector.”

“Congratulations to the recipients, who demonstrate what can be achieved when innovation, passion, and drive are accompanied by the vision and leadership needed to bring novel medicines, medical devices and other new technologies to patients.”

Announcing the awards, Ms Kathy Connell, Senior Director, External Innovation Partnering, ANZ, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, said: “Johnson & Johnson Innovation is proud to sponsor these awards, and to celebrate and recognise these exceptional recipients for their commitment to lifescience innovation excellence. The discovery, development and commercialisation of biomedical research takes a global effort from diverse ecosystem including scientists, entrepreneurs, philanthropists and industry partners. This years’ awardees represents contributions from across Australia and we commend their work as they seek to advance healthcare for humanity around the world.”

Dr Forrest said: “We are passionate about finding ethical and sustainable solutions to a range of issues that impact people and the planet, and we trust that our commitment and passion, in both our philanthropy work and the commercial investments we make, is helping to make the world a better place.

“We back Australian research and businesses, as well as partner with people across the world to share information and accelerate the development of breakthrough therapies, life-changing products and medical treatments. We are investing in the future of Australian healthcare innovation in a way that hasn’t been done here before.”

More on the 2022 winners

Industry Leadership Award Professor Steve Wilton AO, Director Centre for Molecular Medicine and Innovative Therapeutics and Foundation Chair in Molecular Therapies, Murdoch University and Director Perron Institute for Neurological and Translational Science Perth, WA; and Professor Sue Fletcher AO, Principal Research Fellow Centre for Molecular Medicine and Innovative Therapeutics Murdoch University and Chief Scientific Officer, PYC Therapeutics Perth, WA.

Professors Steve Wilton and Sue Fletcher’s collaboration and pioneering research has resulted in the development of three FDA-approved “exon-skipping” medicines that overcome specific genetic mutations that cause Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD).

Their contribution to Australia’s biotech industry spans more than 25 years, and their work in antisense oligomer-induced exon skipping puts Australia’s medical research into rare diseases and neuromuscular science on the map. All three medicines (Exondys 51, Vyondys 53 and Amondys 45) were developed at the Perron Institute for Neurological and Translational Science with The University of Western Australia and has been commercialised in partnership with US company Sarepta Therapeutics.

Company of the Year: Telix Pharmaceuticals

Melbourne-headquartered biopharmaceutical company Telix Pharmaceuticals Limited (Telix) is focused on the development and commercialisation of diagnostic and therapeutic (‘theranostic’) radiopharmaceuticals. Founded in 2015, Telix has moved its lead product Illuccix®, a PSMA PET imaging agent for the detection and staging of prostate cancer, from academic proof-of-concept to a commercially-proven product in the space of three short years, with FDA and TGA approval gained during late 2021 (now reimbursed in both markets), and Health Canada approval in October 2022.

Commerically launching Illuccix® in the US in April 2022, Telix has since generated USD$50 million (AUD$73 million) in sales; in addition to Australia, it now has commerical operations in the US, Europe and Japan. The first patient was imaged in Australia in September 2022, and US-distribution has rapidly expanded with a network of more than 150 radiopharmacies nationwide; the US total addressable market for PSMA PET imaging for prostate cancer is estimated at USD$1-1.5 billion annually. Telix’s has further theranostics for oncology and rare diseases progressing through the pipeline, with more than 20 Telix sponsored and investigator-led clinical trials spanning Phases 1 – 3.

Emerging Company of the Year: Fusetec

Established in 2017, Fusetec’s medical technology is already revolutionising medical training globally. Through its advanced additive manufacturing, Fusetec’s realistic, anatomically accurate bone, skin and muscle is used during surgical training and reducing the need for medical students, residents and surgeons to practice on real patients or extremely expensive cadavers. These medical devices are made to order, and can be designed and manufactured to simulate specific pathology. Currently available are models in orthopaedics, otolaryngology, neurology and gynecology, with more surgical displines under development.

Fusetec has secured global partnerships and opened a world-first 3D Advanced Surgical Training Clinic in South Australia, creating 157 direct jobs in the fields of research, production and administration; it expects to create an additional 800 indirect jobs in South Australia within the supply chain, medical tourism and higher education sectors.

AusBiotech Life Sciences Legacy Award: Dr Andrew Forrest AO and Nicola Forrest AO

Dr Andrew Forrest AO and Nicola Forrest AO have demonstrated a deep commitment to finding ethical and sustainable solutions to a range of global issues as diverse as childhood cancer, ending modern slavery, and ocean conservation.

Among Australia’s most active philanthropists and investors, they have invested more than $2.6 billion since 2001 through the Minderoo Foundation which they co-Chair.

Their commitment to improving equitable health outcomes and Australia’s medical and biotechnology ecosystem through their philanthropic and investment activities, are proving transformational for the Australian life sciences sector.

Minderoo’s Collaborate Against Cancer initiative works with global partners to overcome the greatest barriers to cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Through Minderoo, the Forrests are accelerating research and discovery of breakthrough therapies to make world-class cancer care accessible to everyone, no matter their address or background. In 2020, Minderoo mounted a pivotal response to the COVID-19 pandemic to buffer Australia’s diagnostic testing capacity and personal protective equipment stockpiles in a time of critical need.

Beyond their philanthropy, the Forrest family’s Tarrarang Group has supported Australian life science companies and recently launched Tenmile, a $250-million venture capital fund dedicated to supporting innovators and companies to create and nurture impactful health technology and biotech solutions. Tenmile seeks to address unmet needs in healthcare and scale an Australian health science and technology sector of global significance.

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