• Uniseed facilitates second successful exit in 12 months with acquisition of Spinifex
  • Deal follows successful exit of Uniseed-funded Fibrotech in 2014
  • Total potential returns to Uniseed in excess of AU$20 million

Uniseed, a venture fund operating at the Universities of Melbourne, New South Wales and Queensland is pleased to announce the successful exit of a second investee company in the past 12 months.

Spinifex Pharmaceuticals, a company focused on the development of new drugs for the treatment of chronic and neuropathic pain, has agreed to be acquired by Novartis International AG for an upfront cash consideration of US$200 million plus milestone payments.

The terms of the deal will see Uniseed receive an upfront payment of US$5.8 million (AU$7.4m) on an original investment of AU$2.375 million, with potential returns to Uniseed of up to US$19.8 million based on milestones achieved.

Uniseed Chief Executive Officer, Peter Devine, said: “On behalf of Uniseed, I am delighted to announce the news of Spinifex’s deal with Novartis. Today’s announcement is testament to Uniseed’s venture capital business model and highlights the insightful and long-term vision of the Universities of Melbourne, Queensland and NSW in setting up the Uniseed fund  and providing a much-needed boost to Australian science and innovation.

“Along with our partner, UniQuest, we are proud to have supported Spinifex from its inception at the University of Queensland, and we applaud the important work of Professor Maree Smith in addressing a debilitating condition affecting millions of people worldwide.”

“To date, Uniseed has exited three investments through trade sales; most recently Fibrotech, a drug in development to treat fibrosis, as well as Vintela, an IT security technology and Fultec, a semi- conductor technology.”

Spinifex Pharmaceuticals’ technology was developed by Professor Smith at the University of Queensland, where she identified AT2 receptor antagonists as inhibitors of neuropathic pain in preclinical animal models.

In 2005, the technology was spun-out of the University of Queensland into Spinifex Pharmaceuticals via a Series- A investment round from UniSeed, GBS Ventures and Symbiosis (now UniQuest). Uniseed then supported the Company through every funding round.

Phase II development of Spinifex’s lead clinical candidate, EMA401, achieved a clinically meaningful and statistically significant reduction in pain caused by shingles (post herpetic neuralgia) with results

published in the Lancet. Spinifex’s clinical focus on neuropathic pain is aligned with Novartis’ neuroscience portfolio and will allow the company to pursue commercial opportunities in peripheral neuropathic pain.

About Spinifex Pharmaceuticals

Spinifex Pharmaceuticals is an US-Australian biotechnology company developing new drug candidates for the treatment and management of chronic pain.

Established in 2005 and now based in Stamford, Connecticut and Melbourne, Australia, Spinifex has applied its world-class drug development capabilities to try and help patients suffering from chronic pain. Its lead product, EMA401, is under development as a potential first-in-class oral treatment for chronic pain without CNS side effects. Spinifex’s investors are Novo A/S, Canaan Partners, GBS Venture Partners, Brandon Capital Partners, Uniseed and UniQuest (University of Queensland, Australia).

About Uniseed

Uniseed is a venture fund operating at the Universities of Melbourne, Queensland and New South Wales, with investment capital provided by the three universities and AustralianSuper, a leading industry superannuation fund. Uniseed’s mandate is to facilitate the commercialisation of university- generated intellectual property by targeted investment in highly promising technologies. Uniseed’s investments cover a range of technology sectors. To date, the fund has exited three investments through trade sales; a drug in development to treat fibrosis (Fibrotech sale to Shire plc for US$75M up-front plus milestone payments), an IT security technology (Vintela sale to Quest Software Inc. for US$75M) and a semi-conductor technology (Fultec sale to Bourns Semiconductor Inc). Uniseed’s biotechnology portfolio is maturing, with Hatchtech completing a pivotal Phase 3 trial for its human head lice treatment in 2014, and a number of other companies in clinical development. Other companies have products on the market (Hydrexia, ProGel, BT Imaging, Smart Sparrow) or are collaborating with leading global companies in their respective fields.

For more information: Uniseed

Peter Devine
(07) 3365-3754