Australian biotechnology company Vaxxas, is poised to transform the way vaccines are delivered globally from its new Northshore headquarters and manufacturing facility opened in June 2023 with support from Economic Development Queensland.

From this facility, the company will soon produce millions of vaccine doses of its trailblazing needle-free vaccine technology, the high-density microarray patch (HD-MAP).

Vaxxas’ arrival at Northshore represents a giant leap forward for the region’s economic landscape, seeding innovation and progress as EDQ and Northshore look to shape the future of healthcare in the South East corner, and potentially the world.

THE BREAKTHROUGH

Vaxxas’s cutting-edge technology was developed to boost the performance of current and future vaccines, enhance vaccine immune response and transform how vaccines are administered globally.

The needle-free device uses a small patch with its surface covered with thousands of microprojections, coated with a vaccine and applied with an integrated applicator device.

When the patch is applied to the skin, it targets the immune cells that are abundant just below the skin in a process that is more efficient and less invasive than injection with a needle and syringe.

Vaccine products are designed and developed to be stable at room temperature, meaning less reliance on refrigeration during storage and transport and with the potential for vaccines to be self-administered.

The simplicity of the technology could also help to reduce waste by removing the need for the substantial protective packaging and equipment required for traditional needles and syringes.

Following successful human clinical studies, Vaxxas is now working on initial applications to target infectious diseases such as COVID-19, influenza, and oncology.

ADVANCING INNOVATION

Vaxxas began developing its pioneering patch at the University of Queensland in 2011, before relocating to the Translational Research Institute (TRI) in 2015.

When the company outgrew its space at the TRI, it turned to Northshore to establish a dedicated facility to house its entire operation: from office space, laboratories and clean rooms to engineering, manufacturing and distribution space.

EDQ Urban Development Director Michael Bucknell said one of EDQ’s key aspirations is to support enterprises in priority industry sectors to scale up.

“The government is working to make Queensland a globally competitive Asia-Pacific biomedical hub by 2027,” Mr Bucknell said.

“EDQ is actively engaged in attracting investment, building partnerships and creating opportunities in technology, research-driven services and employment.

“Initiatives of this nature not only contribute to the enhancement of public health and wellbeing globally but also play a pivotal role in advancing the fields of biotechnology and medical technology in Queensland.”

Vaxxas was drawn to Northshore’s central and amenity-rich location and enlisted EDQ for help identifying suitable sites and facilitating a seamless set-up.

“The team collaborated closely with Vaxxas throughout the design and delivery of the facility, working to understand and scope the requirements of the project to craft and deliver an ideal solution,” Mr Bucknell said.

“The new state-of-the-art biomedical and manufacturing facility enables Vaxxas to produce clinical samples of its innovative needle-free patch technology on-site, with the capability to transition to future commercial production.”

TAKING THE GLOBAL STAGE

Though Brisbane has a rich history in developing medical technology, many companies opt to manufacture offshore due to infrastructure and funding constraints.

Vaxxas Senior Vice President of Advanced Technology Mike Junger said EDQ’s support empowered Vaxxas to drive to manufacture locally and export its revolutionary new product to the world.

“Vaxxas has developed the elements needed to manufacture its ground-breaking needle-free vaccination technology in-house and with partners in Brisbane and the APAC region. To advance the technology we needed to build a prototype facility to bring everything in under the one roof,” Mr Junger said.

“EDQ and Northshore provided us with a bespoke space to do this and house our growing staff, advance our technology and demonstrate high-volume manufacturing as we showcase our technology internationally.

“The location at Northshore also placed us near industry partners, the city, airport, major road corridors and the river.”

The innovative work of Vaxxas has already garnered significant attention from global partners, governments, pharmaceutical companies and philanthropic organisations including the World Health Organisation (WHO), CEPI, Wellcome Trust and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“We are proud to be flying the flag overseas, showcasing the great technology and start-up companies that are around the Brisbane area and the opportunities they have to scale-up here at Northshore,” Mr Junger said.

With the new facility home to a highly skilled workforce of scientists, engineers, quality and regulatory experts from the pharmaceutical and medical device sectors, the collaboration between EDQ and Vaxxas is helping to retain and develop skills locally and therefore contribute to the advancement of Queensland’s biotech industry.

OPENING UP OPPORTUNITY

In a precinct where innovation, technology and sustainable practices seamlessly converge, the symbiotic partnership between Northshore and Vaxxas demonstrates the unique solutions available to support the local economy and foster innovation.

Queensland’s largest waterfront urban renewal precinct accommodates a diverse array of businesses, spanning expansive, clean manufacturing facilities to emerging start-ups and a dynamic business technology park.

The $12 billion generational redevelopment of the Northshore precinct is a key driver of economic growth for Queensland and offers space for innovators and entrepreneurs to seed businesses from the ground up.