New funding for Bridge Program

The QUT-administered Bridge Program, the successful Australian pharmaceutical commercialisation training program, will be sponsored by MTPConnect.

MTPConnect is Australia’s growth centre for the medical technology, biotechnology and pharmaceutical sector and will fund the Bridge Program in 2023 through its Researcher Exchange and Development within Industry (REDI) initiative.

REDI, delivered by MTPConnect for the Australian Government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), is building an industry-ready workforce with the skills and capacity to keep pace with the demands of Australia’s rapidly changing medical technologies and pharmaceuticals (MTP) sector.

Through a series of initiatives like the Bridge Program, REDI provides skills development and industry experience for students, researchers, clinicians, MTP sector professionals, entrepreneurs, and innovators.

Distinguished Professor Lyn Griffiths

QUT’s Distinguished Professor Lyn Griffiths and Director of the Bridge Program said she welcomed the linking of the Bridge Program with the REDI initiative.

“We are proud to deliver the Bridge Program out of QUT, including online learning materials and a year-long series of events, activities and seminars,” Professor Griffiths said.

“Since launching the program in 2017, we’ve seen remarkable high impact outcomes for the sector. Researchers have a better understanding of the pharmaceutical commercialisation and translation process, which has focussed their research to align better with the information required by investors and pharma companies and are able to better communicate their value proposition because of the project work in the Bridge Program.

“Tech transfer professionals have accelerated their development with the support of Bridge, providing unparalleled insights into the focus of pharma companies. And, of immeasurable value are the connections formed between our participants and industry. Like the REDI initiative, this is thanks to the industry-focus the Bridge Program offers.”

MTPConnect CEO Stuart Dignam said: “We are delighted that MTPConnect’s long-term support of the Bridge Program is continuing through our REDI initiative. REDI is about strengthening capability and capacity for translation of medical research and developing meaningful and sustainable partnerships between research and industry, which strategically aligns with the aims of the Bridge Program.”

The Bridge Program is a fully-funded professional development opportunity for participants, which will be sponsored by MTPConnect’s REDI initiative next year and is supported by a consortium of partners comprising leading pharmaceutical companies, universities, and industry affiliates, including Pfizer.

Industry consortium partner representative, Anand Gautam, is the Executive Director & Emerging Science Lead (Asia & Asia Pacific) at Pfizer. He believes the Bridge Program is highly beneficial to participants and essential to the sector in Australia.

“Pfizer has supported this program for the past five years, and it has been fantastic. We hope that through our support we can help generate and inform new talent to better translate science in Australia,” Mr Gautam said.

“Participants hear from executives and seasoned professionals from across the industry. They learn about the translation process from very early stages through to commercialisation, which I think is really helpful.”

The Bridge Program aims to leverage partner expertise and global connections to equip participants with the skills and networks they need to take new medicines to market, which rings true for program alumnus, Dr Elizabeth Johnstone.

Dr Johnstone, a lecturer at the University of Western Australia and researcher at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, took part in the 2017 Bridge Program to learn more about the drug development process. At the time, a therapeutic based on Dr Johnstone’s work on a novel target for chronic kidney disease had progressed to Phase II clinical trials.

“The learning materials offered so much useful and relevant information about the drug development process, most of which was totally new to me as an academic,” Dr Johnstone said.

“The program’s networking opportunities also allowed me to meet people from a wide variety of backgrounds outside of academia, including some very experienced and well-known names in industry. These interactions and the course materials combined helped to inform my next steps and the direction of my future research.”

Australia’s medical technology, biotechnology, pharmaceutical and digital health sector supports 70,000 Australian jobs and contributed more than $5 Billion in gross value added (GVA) to the Australian economy in 2019. Its future growth is dependent on the skills of its workforce, which highlights the importance of initiatives like REDI and the Bridge Program.

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