mRNA Victoria Research Acceleration Fund

What is the mRNA Victoria Research Acceleration Fund?

The  mRNA Victoria Research Acceleration Fund is a grant opportunity to accelerate RNA-based therapeutics research through the provision of one-off grants to successful applicants.

 

Background

The first round of the mRNA Victoria Research Acceleration Fund (the Fund) is being launched by mRNA Victoria, a business unit within the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, (mRNA Victoria) as part of the Victorian Government’s $50 million investment to grow mRNA capability in the state. The Fund is designed to capitalise on Victoria’s comparative advantages in research, increase the RNA candidate pipeline and enhance the Victorian economy by growing the RNA ecosystem.

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

 

Objectives

The objectives and outcomes for each tier of this Program are:

Tier 1 – Early-stage research

  • Support innovative early-stage RNA-based therapeutics research, that will bring health and economic benefits to Victoria
  • Facilitate collaboration between medical research institutes, universities and industry that will maximise innovation and grow the RNA ecosystem in Victoria
  • Innovative early-stage RNA research that could grow the RNA therapeutics pipeline is moved to proof-of-concept stage faster
  • Research collaborations increase the likelihood that the research can be successfully translated into economic and health benefits for Victoria.

Tier 2 – Research translation

  • Provide direct funding to ‘fast-track’ the translation of RNA-based therapeutics research to increase Victoria’s RNA therapeutics pipeline
  • Facilitate collaboration between medical research institutes, universities and industry to become investment-ready and stimulate translational activities
  • The pipeline of Victorian RNA-based therapeutic candidates reaches manufacturing and clinical stages of development faster
  • Research collaborations support effective translation of research

Over the longer-term the intended outcomes of this Program are:

  • Increased attractiveness of Victorian RNA therapeutics research to investors
  • Increased capability, knowledge, and expertise across the Victorian RNA research sector
  • Victoria’s reputation as a world leader in RNA therapeutics research is bolstered
  • A stronger RNA therapeutics research sector supports growth of the broader RNA ecosystem.

 

Funding

The Program offers a total of $2 million (GST exclusive) of grants under two tiers:

  • Tier 1 – Early Stage: Up to $100,000 (GST exclusive)
  • Tier 2 – Fast track: Up to $500,000 (GST exclusive)

 

Eligible Projects

Projects should meet a current need or gap in a field of RNA-based therapeutics research. This could be, but is not limited to:

  • mRNA, siRNA, Cas/CRISPR RNA approaches and other RNA-based approaches
  • Therapeutics including vaccines, cell therapies, treatments for rare diseases and cancer.

Projects looking to address key RNA enabling technology, such as novel nanoparticle encapsulation technology or novel modified nucleotides will not be eligible to apply to the Fund. mRNA Victoria will soon be opening another program that will aim to support these types of projects. Eligibility of projects will be determined at the sole discretion of mRNA Victoria.

Examples of eligible projects under the two tiers of this Program are as follows (to be used as a guide only):

  • Tier 1 – Early-stage RNA-based therapeutic research projects, including discovery, early-stage and pre-clinical research. 
  • Tier 2 – RNA-based therapeutics projects that can demonstrate a clear pathway to translation and can secure development and commercialisation opportunities. 

Eligible expenditure items are:

  • Regulatory and intellectual property fees and charges associated with registering domestic or international patents or other intellectual property enforcement expenses
  • Equipment, consumables and services required for the research activity as outlined in the
    project description provided that such equipment, consumable or service is not listed as an ineligible expense in section 5.3 of the guidelines
  • Staffing costs that relate solely to new employees, or expansion of hours for current part-time employees and who are working on the funded projects.

 

Eligible Applicants

Applicant organisations must meet the following criteria, as assessed by mRNA Victoria and DJPR, to be eligible (Eligibility Criteria):

  • Hold an active Australian Business Number (ABN);
  • Be one of the following entity types:
    • a company incorporated pursuant to the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) and registered with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission; or
    • an incorporated association incorporated pursuant to the Associations Incorporation Reform Act 2012 (VIC) or equivalent legislation of another Australian jurisdiction;
    • education body established by statute; or
    • other incorporated entity approved by DJPR.

Applicants must attest that:

  • they can provide a cash co-contribution to match any grant funding on a 1:1 fund basis (up to grant cap) and provide evidence of this capability in the application
  • they will participate in future Program evaluation activities;
  • they will deliver the funded project in collaboration with a Collaborative Partner; and
  • research activities will predominately be led from and conducted in Victoria

 

Timing

Applications close 17 December 2021.

 

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