mRNA Victoria

mRNA Victoria is responsible for leading the Victorian Government’s commitment to establish a world-class mRNA and RNA industry in Victoria, by supporting supply chain, research and development for pre and clinical research, commercialisation and manufacturing investments.

Its role is to identify key capabilities, gaps, opportunities and lead the Victorian Government’s engagement, investment and partnerships with domestic and international companies, researchers and stakeholders to build RNA capability.

Through grants, international market entry support, facilitating and entering into research agreements and partnerships, mRNA Victoria delivers programs to support the development and commercialisation of mRNA research.

mRNA Victoria’s Scientific Advisory Group

mRNA Victoria is advised by a Scientific Advisory Group made up of world-leading experts from the medical research sector. The Scientific Advisory Group works in consultation with mRNA Victoria, supporting the development of the mRNA ecosystem and research in Victoria.

The members of the group are:

  • Dr Amanda Caples - Victoria’s Lead Scientist and Chair of the Group
  • Professor Sharon Lewin - Director, Doherty Institute
  • Dr Barney Graham - Deputy Director, Vaccine Research Center, US National Institutes of Health
  • Professor William Charman - Sir John Monash Distinguished Professor, Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Monash University
  • Professor Brendan Crabb - Director, Burnet Institute
  • Professor Doug Hilton - Director, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research
  • Professor Terry Nolan - Head, Vaccine and Immunisation Research Group, Doherty Institute at University of Melbourne, and MCRI
  • Professor John Carroll - Director, Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute
  • Professor Andrew Steer - Director, Infection and Immunity, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute
  • Professor Ricky Johnstone - Head, Gene Regulation Laboratory, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
  • Dr Minna-Liisa Änkö - Head, Functional RNAomics laboratory, Hudson Institute of Medical Research

mRNA Victoria’s Industry Panel

mRNA Victoria has been working with the national industry association, AusBiotech and the BioMelbourne Network to establish a panel of industry experts and service providers to complement the expertise of the SAG. The Industry Panel will comprise Victorian-based companies with relevant experience in mRNA or RNA-related manufacture, supply chain and systems support.

Development of Australia's first mRNA vaccine

mRNA Victoria is providing funding support for the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS) and the Doherty Institute to manufacture mRNA COVID-19 vaccines for clinical trials, due to start late 2021.

This will be Australia’s first local mRNA COVID-19 vaccine candidate to reach Phase 1 clinical trials, with preliminary results expected to be available in the first half of 2022.

The collaboration between MIPS, the Doherty Institute and mRNA Victoria reinforces the strong mRNA research sector in Victoria as well as Australia’s leading mRNA manufacturing capability.

Victoria's mRNA ecosystem

Victoria has long been the centre of Australia’s biotech and medical research ecosystem with the deepest research, therapeutic and clinical capability in the Asia-Pacific region. Victoria is the leading State in Australia for mRNA research and is adding mRNA manufacturing to its world-class biotech precinct.

Victoria is home to CSL, the second largest influenza vaccine manufacturer in the world, as well as Pfizer, Sanofi, Novartis, Merck, Bristol Myers Squibb, Aspen and GSK. 70 per cent of the top 25 Australian medtech and pharma companies are based in Victoria and nearly 60 per cent of Australia’s pharmaceutical exports are from Victoria.

Victoria’s life sciences professionals number more than 100,000 with the majority of the nation’s pharmaceutical life sciences professionals living in Victoria.

Victoria leads Australia in clinical trial capability, with the greatest number of trials underway of any State. Victoria’s strength in this area is reinforced by the co-location of research facilities with hospitals enabling accelerated development driven by insights from clinical investigators during early-stage clinical testing.

In May 2021, Victoria committed $400 million to establish the Australian Institute for Infectious Diseases, to be located beside the Doherty Institute, the first place in the world outside of China to decipher the genetic code for COVID-19. Victoria is already home to the Australian Government’s Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness operated by the CSIRO, and the Geelong Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases.

International engagement and investment opportunities

mRNA Victoria is the lead government agency for domestic and international companies interested in participating in the development of the mRNA ecosystem in Victoria.

This includes pre and clinical stage research, manufacturing and supply chain partners, investors and therapeutic innovators in Australia and internationally to explore opportunities for partnerships with the Victorian Government to establish operations in Melbourne

Providing a detailed understanding of local RNA capability and opportunities for research and industry partnerships, mRNA Victoria offers clients a complete array of support, including:

  • Identifying opportunities and building a business case
  • Site selection assistance
  • Business and stakeholder partnering
  • Guidance with regulatory and compliance obligations
  • Tailored financial support for business expansion and market entry

mRNA Victoria works through the Victorian Government’s 23 international offices, including a dedicated business development office in Boston, Massachusetts, to work with investors in markets around the world.

Research and industry development

Victoria is home to 22 globally recognised medical research institutes including the Doherty Institute, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, the Florey Institute, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre. Two of Victoria’s Universities, Melbourne and Monash are recognised as global top 20 leaders in medicine, and the Monash Institute of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Science is ranked at number two in the world.

mRNA Victoria is focused on supporting the development of IP in key areas of need to develop a strong pipeline of RNA research candidates and an ecosystem to support commercialisation and manufacturing.

Priority focus areas for support will be to enhance capacity across all aspects of the sector and build a strong pipeline of mRNA therapeutic candidates.

Grants available

Round 2 of mRNA Victoria Research Acceleration Fund Grants

Applications are now open for Round 2 of the mRNA Victoria Research Acceleration Fund (mVRAF).

The dedicated mRNA grant program was launched in 2021, as part of the Victorian Government’s $50 million commitment t  o establish a world-class mRNA industry in Victoria.

Round 2 has a total of $2 million for RNA-based therapeutic projects with grants of up to $500,000 to fast-track translational research breakthroughs into clinical trials, and grants of up to $100,000 for early-stage innovative research.

The mVRAF Program is designed to complement the Victorian Government’s established Victorian Medical Research Acceleration Fund by providing a dedicated funding stream for RNA-based therapeutics projects. Projects submitted to the mVRAF Program will not be eligible to be submitted to the Victorian Medical Research Acceleration Fund.

For more information, download the program guidelines below:

mRNA Victoria Research Acceleration Fund Guidelines Round 2 mRNA-Victoria-Research-Acceleration-Fund-Guidelines-Round-2.pdf (PDF 393.17 KB)PDF icon

mRNA Victoria Research Acceleration Fund Guidelines Round 2 mRNA-Victoria-Research-Acceleration-Fund-Guidelines-Round-2.docx (DOCX 1602.11 KB)DOCX icon

Application form

If you have any queries, please contact us via Business Victoria.

Applications close at 4 pm Tuesday 22 November 2022.

Successful recipient mRNA Victoria Research Acceleration Fund Round 1

Round 1  mVRAF recipients were announced in June 2022, supporting 12 projects with almost $2 million in funding.

Leading Institution

Project Partner

Total Funds

Project Title

Monash University

Alfred Health

$266,620

Development of a lipopeptide-based nanoparticle RNA delivery system for the treatment of muscular dystrophy or acquired musculoskeletal conditions

The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health

Swinburne University of Technology

$75,000

A new mRNA-exosome gene therapy for Niemann-Pick Disease Type C1

University of Melbourne

Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute

$500,000

mRNA-based antiviral therapeutics for SARS-CoV-2 using Cas13

RAGE Biotech

Monash University

$500,000

Accelerating the development of an inhaled RNA therapeutic for the management of chronic lung disease.

The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health

Monash University

$16,298

Developing an mRNA vaccine for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease

Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute

Monash University

$100,000

Anti-inflammatory and anti-thrombotic mRNA therapeutics: Potential game-changers for the therapy of cardiovascular diseases

St Vincent's Institute

Monash University

$100,000

Reversing autoimmune diabetes with mRNA therapy

Hudson Institute

Pharmorage Pty Limited

$100,000

Development of RNA based therapeutics for the management of TLR7-driven autoimmunity

RMIT University

Austin Hospital

$ 99,687

Novel mRNA therapeutic strategies for reprogramming tumour associated macrophages in lung cancer

RMIT University

Royal Melbourne Hospital

$100,000

Developing novel mRNA vaccines for high-risk groups

Monash University

Ensign (CHINA) Medical Teck. Co Ltd.

$100,000

A novel mRNA-based therapy for chronic kidney injury treatment

Monash University

Children’s Medical Research Institute

$99,802

Combining mRNA delivery with viral gene delivery to treat metabolic liver disease in infants and children using in vivo gene editing

mRNA Victoria Activation Program

Victoria continues to build its mRNA capabilities with the announcement of its mRNA Victoria Activation Program (mAP), the largest dedicated mRNA research grant fund in Australia, which seeks to support bold new ideas that will grow Victoria’s capability in RNA research, development and manufacturing, contributing to a viable and self-sustaining end-to-end ecosystem for producing world-leading RNA-based medical products.

The $21 million mAP grant program will capture new research and innovations that significantly contribute to growing the RNA ecosystem. It complements the $2 million mRNA Victoria Research Acceleration fund which is supporting early-stage research, providing a total of $25 million in grant funding to support the growth of Victoria’s leading mRNA sector. Open to businesses, universities, medical research institutes and overseas partners, with the majority of project activities conducted and led in Victoria, the application period has now closed.

Alternatively, if you would like to be kept informed when grants become available, please email:mrnavictoria@ecodev.vic.gov.au and include ‘Grants’ in the subject line.

Successful Recipients mRNA Victoria Activation Program Round 1

Round 1 mAP recipients were announced in October 2022.

Institution

Funds Received

Project Title

Burnet Institute

$3,082,122

Burnet Institute Vaccine Initiative: mRNA vaccines to tackle global pandemic pathogens that provide broad immunity.

Hudson Institute

$690,000

Re-defining the RNA that activates innate immune sensors to produce safer and more effective RNA therapies

Messenger Bio Pty Ltd

$495,600

High-throughput Automation and Scale-up of Preclinical mRNA Manufacturing and Expansion of the RNA Engineering Toolbox

Monash University

$427,000

RaRtech: a novel and rapid mRNA manufacturing technology for pandemics preparedness and therapeutics.

Monash University

$472,000

A universal platform for affinity purification of RNA

Monash University

$606,435

Novel enzymes to transform the manufacturing of mRNA in Victoria.

University of Melbourne

$788,377

mRNA BEATs technology to enhance CAR T cell therapy of cancer

University of Melbourne

$1,759,342

Developing a novel RNA therapeutic for chronic hepatitis B

University of Melbourne

$1,306,536

Leveraging mRNA technology to improve adoptive cell therapy for cancer

University of Melbourne, The Sir Peter MacCallum Department of Oncology

$1,565,420

Sequence-Specific Silencing of Oncogenic Drivers with Personalized Cas13 RNA Therapeutics

Victorian mRNA Innovation Hub (VMIH)

$5,400,000

Announced in August 2022, VMIH is a world-first collaboration between Monash University, the University of Melbourne, Doherty Institute and Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences to develop next-generation vaccines and therapeutics to treat a range of diseases.

mRNA Victoria and Pfizer Joint Industry Fellowship

The mRNA Victoria and Pfizer Joint Industry Fellowship supports a Victorian-based researcher to spend up to nine months working in the United States at Pfizer’s Emerging Science and Innovation Unit RNA Accelerator during 2023.

The Fellowship is open to PhD-qualified local early-career researchers working at a Victorian university or research institute in a field with a strong RNA background.

The successful fellow’s project must come from the field of cellular reprogramming, infectious disease vaccines, chronic or rare renal diseases, rare liver diseases, rare neuromuscular diseases or repeat expansion diseases.

mRNA Victoria and Pfizer will together cover the cost of travel, accommodation and living expenses for the nine months of the Fellowship, up to USD$100,000 (approx. AUD$ 145,000)

At the completion of the Fellowship, the successful fellow will return to Victoria to complete their research project, utilising the knowledge and skills gained from their time with Pfizer and sharing the lessons learned with the local mRNA ecosystem.

For enquiries about the Fellowship Program, please email mrnavictoria@ecodev.vic.gov.au

Application Form Fellowship-Application-Form.docx (DOCX 55.2 KB)DOCX icon

Fellowship Guidelines (DOCX 1585.48 KB)

Contact mRNA Victoria

Email:  mrnavictoria@ecodev.vic.gov.au

Page last updated: 28 October 2022