Spinifex Pharmaceuticals Pty Ltd was awarded the Australian Venture Capital Association (AVCAL) Best Early Stage Deal at last night’s awards in Melbourne.

In June, Spinifex reached an agreement with Novartis International AG, under which Novartis purchased Spinifex for an upfront payment of US$200 million and certain contingent payments based on the achievement of development and regulatory milestones.

Spinifex is a spin-out of the University of Queensland based on the work of Professor Marie Smith and Dr Bruce Wyse. In 2005 the technology was spun-out of The University of Queensland into Spinifex Pharmaceuticals Pty Ltd via a Series A investment round from Uniseed, UniQuest and GBS Venture Partners.

In 2008, as the company prepared for human clinical trials under an IND with the US Food & Drug Administration, the existing Australian venture syndicate reinvested and was further strengthened by the addition of Brandon Capital Partners in a Series B financing.  In 2014 following positive results from the company’s Phase 2 trial in Post Herpetic Neuralgia which was published in The Lancet, the company went on to raise a Series C round to fund the company’s further clinical development and relocate substantial operations to the US. The existing investor syndicate continued to participate and was enhanced by the addition of US VCs Novo Ventures and Canaan Partners.

Dr Peter Devine, CEO of Uniseed commented:

“Having supported Spinifex since its inception, Uniseed is proud to receive this recognition and be associated with such a significant partnership. Uniseed has an exciting portfolio of companies and expects a number of additional significant exits over the next few years.”

Dr Devine went on to say:

“This is the third ‘Best Early Stage Deal’ award for a Uniseed investee company – the first being Vintela Inc. in 2005 – a spin-out of the Distributed Systems Technology Centre CRC in Brisbane that developed a sign-on security software for enterprise systems – and Fibrotech Therapeutics Pty Ltd in 2014 – a spin out from the University of Melbourne that is developing novel drugs for kidney fibrosis. Fibrotech was acquired by Specialty Pharmaceutical Company Shire plc for a US$75 million upfront payment in a deal worth up to US$557 million.”


About Spinifex Pharmaceuticals

Spinifex Pharmaceuticals is a US-Australian biotechnology company developing new drug candidates for the treatment and management of chronic pain. Established in 2005 at the University of Queensland 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 UniQuest (University of Queensland), UniSeed, GBS Venture Partners, Brandon Capital Partners, Novo A/S and Canaan Partners.

About Uniseed

Uniseed is a commercialisation 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.

Through Uniseed’s investment, a number of technologies arising from its partner universities are creating a major impact on society, ultimately enhancing the reputation of the universities from where these discoveries originated. Technologies funded by Uniseed address a number of global challenges in areas such as healthcare, disease prevention, functional foods, clean energy and education. The impact of Uniseed funding reaches far beyond just the investee company. Through Uniseed investment, new technologies are nurtured, taking Australian university innovation to the world, and positioning Australia for the future. Uniseed works in very close partnership with the universities’ commercialisation companies, UoM Commercial Ltd, UniQuest and NewSouth Innovations, providing a valuable adjunct to the capabilities these companies provide. They in turn provide a best-practice commercialisation service tailored to their respective universities, and are able to leverage to great effect the scale of operation and expertise of the Uniseed network.


About Novartis

Novartis is a global healthcare company based in Switzerland that provides solutions to address the evolving needs of patients worldwide.