Funding Australia’s Future Economy:  CUREator Deploys $7.21 Million to Propel local Life Sciences Potential

May 7, 2024

CUREator by Brandon BioCatalyst has announced the deployment of $7.21 million in funding to support eight biotech companies across their Clinical and Preclinical streams thanks to the Federal Government’s Medical Research Future Fund’s Early-Stage Translation and Commercialisation Support (ESTAC) grant.

This latest round of the competitive commercial grant funding program will allocate $5.84 million to five clinical-stage companies: Ena Respiratory, GPN Vaccines, OncoStrike Biopharma, PolyActiva, and Respirion Pharmaceuticals. This funding will enable the companies to explore the efficacy of novel drugs or innovative applications for existing medications.

South Australian biotech GPN Vaccines is developing a new vaccine with the potential to prevent pneumococcal disease, a disease which currently kills more than one million people annually. They will use the $936,000 grant to conduct an extension of their first-in-human trial to investigate the broad activity against pneumococcal serotypes and demonstrate the duration of the immune response.  GPN Chair and CEO Professor Tim Hirst said,

“The CUREator grant comes at a pivotal moment for GPN Vaccines as we progress from being a Phase 1 clinical-stage company to a Phase 2 company. Being able to conduct a study on the durability of the immune response will strengthen the valuation proposition of our pneumococcal vaccine and assist us as we seek to secure future investment.”

CUREator, which delivers funding in tranches based on milestone attainment like an investor, includes a novel design feature that allows the redistribution of funds from unmet milestones to supplement top-up funding rounds. Top-up funding is awarded on a competitive basis to fund projects that have met their project outcomes and displayed strong progress to accelerate the development of their opportunity.

Currus Biologics, Frontier Inflammasome Therapeutics and Setonix Pharmaceuticals were allocated a further $1.37 million from the CUREator Investment Review Committee in the preclinical stream ‘top-up’ round. University of Queensland Professor Kate Schroder, who heads the Inflammasome Laboratory that is developing a first-in-class potential therapy to treat inflammatory conditions, details her team’s plans for the top-up funding.

“The additional $500,000 of milestone-dependent funding from CUREator will enable our continued development – informed by advice from industry, pharma and local and international venture capitalists – of potential drugs for debilitating inflammatory conditions that currently do not have effective treatment options.”

Thus far, CUREator’s ESTAC program has supported 42 clinical and preclinical stage companies, with one more competitive round of top-up funding for the Preclinical stream funding recipients expected this year.

Dr Amanda Vrselja, Program Head of CUREator, said, “To date, CUREator-backed companies have secured $45.7m in private sector capital cash and in-kind support, which is a fantastic leverage on the $37.4m deployed by the program. With more in the pipeline, this achievement affirms CUREator’s place in the innovation infrastructure supporting Australia’s economic transformation beyond mining”.

In its third year, CUREator is on an upward trajectory, offering an alternative to traditional funding models; it’s building research translation skills needed to expedite the advancement of Australian initiatives with significant commercial potential.

For further details, please visit the CUREator website at

Note to Editors:

For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Brandon BioCatalyst – Kirrily Davis, Head of Brand, Communications and Engagement,

+61 401 220 228.

About CUREator

CUREator is a national biotechnology incubator by Brandon BioCatalyst that supports Australian biomedical research and innovation development. Funded by the Medical Research Future Fund and Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, CUREator provides grant funding programs for opportunities spanning from discovery to clinical development. Funding is provided like an investor with clear milestone-driven tranches to achieve key value-adding and de-risking development milestones. CUREator works closely with project teams to guide them through the early development phase, offering scientific and commercial expertise and networks to support projects meeting key outcomes.

For more information about CUREator, visit:

About Brandon BioCatalyst and Brandon Capital

Brandon Capital is Australasia’s leading life science venture capital firm, with key partnerships and team members across the US and UK; they support life science companies from early-stage seed investment to expansion capital from proof-of-concept to commercialisation.  Managed by Brandon Capital, Brandon BioCatalyst is a unique collaboration of over 50 leading medical research institutes, investors, and government united by a single purpose: progressing the next generation of medical therapies and technology that improve health and save lives. |

About Frontier Inflammasome Therapeutics

Frontier Inflammasome Therapeutics is developing small molecule inhibitors involved in inflammatory diseases such as those resulting from viral respiratory infections. Developed at the University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience  in collaboration with UniQuest’s drug discovery incubator, the Queensland Emory Drug Discovery Initiative.

About GPN Vaccines

GPN Vaccines is developing a broad-spectrum vaccine against Streptococcus pneumoniae, which causes pneumonia, meningitis, and sepsis, as well as otitis media in children and kills up to two million deaths worldwide.  With current therapies only protecting against 20 of the 100 known strains, GPN Vaccines is developing a novel whole-cell vaccine for broad-spectrum protection, regardless of the strain.

Funding Awarded

Clinical Stream AwardeesStateFunding
Ena RespiratoryVIC$950,000
OncoStrike BiopharmaQLD$950,500
GPN VaccinesSA$936,000
Respirion PharmaceuticalsWA$1,500,000
Pre-clinical Stream Top-Up Funding AwardeesStateFunding
Currus BiologicsVIC$500,000
Frontier Inflammasome TherapeuticsQLD$500,000
Setonix PharmaceuticalsWA$374,000
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