The Victorian government has announced the largest dedicated mRNA research grant program ever seen in Australia, the $21 million mRNA Victoria Activation Program (mAP), to help grow research, development and manufacturing capabilities around the vaccine.
mAP grants will provide support to grow the RNA ecosystem, including support for clinical research and projects to develop enabling technology such as artificial intelligence, next-generation manufacturing, safety testing and alternative vaccine delivery methods.
“Victoria leads the way in this crucial field and we want to see more bold ideas that can create breakthroughs across the health spectrum,” Victorian minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy Jaala Pulford said.
“We’re serious about developing our mRNA manufacturing capacity and doing it quickly, because we know it will change lives and save lives.”
The Program is part of the state government’s $50 million commitment to mRNA Victoria, which is preparing the ground for large-scale mRNA manufacturing. This will secure the supply of vaccines for future pandemics and provide advances in treatment for conditions like heart disease, cancer and rare genetic disorders.
The Victorian government has invested $5 million to support the development of the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences’ COVID-19 vaccine candidate and clinical trial – the vaccine for the trial has been manufactured in Boronia in an Australian mRNA landmark revealed last week. They have also announced the mRNA Victoria Research Acceleration Fund, offering grants of up to $500,000 to support early-stage research projects.
The government earlier this year supported a number of proposals from Victorian industry and consortia as part of the Commonwealth’s Approach to Market (ATM) on mRNA manufacturing capability.
The recent decision by global synthetic biology leader Ginkgo Bioworks to establish a Melbourne base further underscores Victoria’s national leadership in mRNA.
mAP will support Victorian businesses, universities and medical research institutes developing new technologies and therapies to produce better health outcomes, with the grants open to projects from early-stage research through to commercialisation.
To address gender inequities in medical research, applications from female researchers and projects that include at least 50 per cent women and early to mid-career researchers will receive extra weighting in the competitive assessment process.
The mAP grants will take place over two rounds, with initial applications opening on Friday 10 December and closing on 19 January. For more information and to view the guidelines, go to djpr.vic.gov.au/mrnavictoria.