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Queensland start-up Vaxxas heads to US after biotech giant deal

By Oliver Milman
Thursday, 11 October 2012

Queensland start-up Vaxxas is relocating to Massachusetts after striking a major new deal with biotech giant Merck, one of the largest vaccine firms in the world.


Vaxxas has struck a research collaboration deal with Merck to evaluate its Nanopatch product, which provides needle-free vaccinations.


The agreement will see Merck provide funding to Vaxxas in order to develop and commercialise Nanopatch. In return, Merck has an exclusive licence to develop Nanopatch for its own vaccination product.


As a result of the deal, Vaxxas, which is a spin-off of the University of Queensland, will move to Cambridge in Massachusetts, although some research and development will continue at the university.


It’s anticipated that the relocation to the US will allow Vaxxas to strike partnerships with other investors and expand its presence across the huge American market.


"We are pleased to collaborate with Merck, a recognised global leader in vaccines, to apply our technology with their expertise in vaccines research," says Vaxxas CEO David Hoey.


"This collaboration underscores the potential of our Nanopatch platform to effectively deliver advanced vaccines and supports our strategic approach of partnering with leaders in vaccine development."


Vaxxas has already been earmarked as one of Australia’s brightest biotech ventures, since its research team, led by Dr Mark Kendall, developed the needle-free vaccine.


Last year, the start-up received $15 million in investment from a group led by VC firm OneVentures.


The funding was judged the Best Venture Capital Investment at the 2012 Vaccine Industry Excellence Awards in Washington in April.

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