Mini-brains and lab-on-a-chip wearables: Jumar Bioincubator officially opens within Melbourne Biomedical Precinct

Australia’s newest biotech incubator has revealed the first innovative early-stage ventures to take up residency.

Australia’s newest biotech incubator Jumar Bioincubator has officially opened its doors and revealed the first 16 innovative early-stage ventures to take up residency in its much-awaited Melbourne-based facility.

The state-of-the-art facilities, infrastructure, and support offered by Jumar creates a world-class hub for biotech innovation translation, research commercialisation, and talent development that will help to progress discoveries towards real-world patient treatments.

The official opening was hosted by founding partners CSL, WEHI, and The University of Melbourne, as well as initial investor Breakthrough Victoria and operator Cicada Innovations.

Ken Jefferd, Managing Director of Research, Innovation & Commercialisation at the University of Melbourne, said Jumar’s launch was a great example of how Melbourne was continuing to evolve support to world-class researchers as they addressed some of the world’s biggest challenges.

“Deep collaboration between academics, research institutes, industry, investors, government, and innovation ecosystem partners such as CSL, WEHI and the University of Melbourne is key to increasing our impact from research on a global scale,” Jefferd said.

Jumar aims to build “Australia’s next CSL” by capitalising on the talent and capabilities of the local biotech research community and create a critical mass of entrepreneurial-skilled scientists who have the ability to run successful biotech companies.

Guests at the launch, including biotech leaders from across government, academia, business, and research, were introduced to a number of “born global” biotech residents working on health issues across pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, medical devices, bioinformatics, health-related AI and more, including:

  • Biotech company Denteric, which is developing a therapeutic vaccine for the one billion people globally suffering from periodontal gum disease.
  • Ovulation bio-sensing startup Symex Labs, which has developed a wearable “lab-on-a-chip” solution that provides continuous “set-and-forget” monitoring of hormones to more conveniently and effectively predict ovulation for people wanting to conceive.
  • Regenerative medicine company Tessara Therapeutics is creating “mini brains” in test tubes through 3D neural micro-tissues that mimic the human brain and offer all the essential requirements for drug discovery, which will help fast-track the ability to find cures for neurodivergent diseases like dementia.

Through its support of the next generation of biotech startups bringing innovative health solutions like these to market, Jumar is enabling the research translation that will ensure Australia’s world-leading research results in real-world patient outcomes.

Dr Andrew Nash, Chief Scientific Officer, SVP Head of Research at CSL, said: “Successfully translating medical research into new therapies or technologies can be a long and arduous process. As a home-grown success story that is a leader on the global stage, CSL recognises our responsibility - and is deeply committed to supporting the promising young biotech’s coming out of Australia. Together with our partners at WEHI and the University of Melbourne we are delighted to offer this support from CSL’s Global Headquarters in Melbourne, and hope to foster the development of more great companies in the future.”

Professor Alan Cowman AC, Acting Director at WEHI, said: “By nurturing the next wave of biotech entrepreneurs, Jumar Bioincubator is helping to take the most exciting ideas out of research laboratories and into the world, for the benefit of our communities. Jumar bridges a key gap in our biomedical ecosystem, with world-class research facilities and expert commercialisation support to empower our scientist-entrepreneurs. We need to accelerate the translation of innovative Australian discoveries into the new treatments, diagnostics and devices that can have the greatest impact on global human health – and Jumar is a vital step forward for this.”

Sally-Ann Williams, CEO of Cicada Innovations, said: “Australia is the birthplace of a wide variety of transformative household-name medical innovations, such as the ultrasound, pacemakers, spray-on skin, the cochlear implant, the cervical cancer vaccine, and more. We must continue to facilitate research commercialisation and translation in these critical fields, by providing biomedical scientists and researchers with access to the knowledge and skills needed to build ‘born global’ biotech companies right here on shore. We are proud to be working with three of Victoria’s most distinguished entities spanning industry, research, and academia to help catalyse growth in commercial biotech outcomes for Australia and, in turn, the world.”

Grant Dooley, CEO of Breakthrough Victoria, said: “Breakthrough Victoria supports innovations that enable industries to create sovereign capability and jobs by mobilising intellectual property for the good of Victoria. Through the launch of the Jumar Bioincubator, Victoria has taken another giant step towards becoming one of the great globally recognised hubs for biotechnology development and commercialisation. At Breakthrough Victoria, we believe in the power of capital and its ability to positively impact people’s lives and the planet, which is why we invest in and support the ideas, businesses and products that can change lives for the better and generate a positive social and environment impact for all.”