Collaborations key in Victoria’s commercial success

Published May 18, 2017

Victoria University of Wellington is celebrating its success in science and innovation with two finalists in the 2017 KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards.

Professor Richard Furneaux, director of Victoria’s Ferrier Research Institute, has been named a Researcher Entrepreneur finalist, and Viclink, Victoria’s commercialisation office, is a finalist in the Commercial Deal category. 

Professor Furneaux has been recognised for his entrepreneurial endeavours which have generated tens of millions of dollars of economic activity for New Zealand over the past 25 years. 

Starting out as a synthetic chemist, today Professor Furneaux leads a team of 40 scientists at the Ferrier Institute, whose innovations include the synthesis of an active ingredient in anti-lymphoma drug Mundesine®. Last month, Japan became the first country to approve Mundesine®, licensed by BioCryst Pharmaceuticals Inc. under an exclusive licence with Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Viclink. 

Research by the Ferrier team has also led to a breakthrough synthetic vaccine to treat cancer, allergies and autoimmune diseases. The Institute recently announced a five-year, $500,000 research partnership with the Breast Cancer Foundation New Zealand, which will see Ferrier scientists progress a potential breast cancer vaccine. 

The Baldwins Researcher Entrepreneur Award recognises an entrepreneurial researcher who has made outstanding contributions to business innovation or has created innovative businesses in New Zealand through technology licencing, start-up creation or by providing expertise to support business innovation. 

Viclink has also been named as a finalist for KiwiNet’s PwC Commercial Deal Award. 

Viclink and the University’s Ferrier Institute have maintained a successful, 16-year relationship with United-States based NASDAQ-listed company BioCryst.

In conjunction with partners at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, the licensing deal with BioCryst has resulted in more than 160 patents and six lead drug candidates with applications as diverse as cancer, gout, psoriasis, transplant rejection and malaria.   

The relationship with BioCryst has yielded significant commercial benefit to New Zealand, the flow on creation of research jobs, and the establishment of GlycoSyn, a Wellington-based manufacturer of pharmaceutical ingredients. 

Viclink has played a key role in the relationship between Victoria University and BioCryst. 

The PwC Commercial Deal Award celebrates excellence in research commercialisation delivering outstanding innovation performance and the potential for generating significant economic impact for New Zealand. 

KiwiNet is a consortium of fifteen universities, crown research institutes and a crown entity established to boost commercial outcomes from publicly-funded research. 

The winners will be announced on Thursday 13 July in Auckland.

® MUNDESINE is a registered trade mark (in Japan) of Mundipharma AG.