Showcasing translational research to industry partners

Finalists in the So You Think You Can Pitch? competition with industry and Monash representatives.
Finalists in the So You Think You Can Pitch? competition with industry and Monash representatives.

The Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) held its annual Industry Showcase on Thursday 8 November. The showcase provides an opportunity to promote the growing pipeline of discoveries to industry partners, facilitates industry–academia networking, and offers a spotlight to our early career researchers (ECRs) and their translational research.

With more than 80 attendees from the Monash BDI, wider Monash community, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, government, and influencers and champions in biomedical science, the Industry Showcase was a great success.

After a welcome speech from Professor Mark Sleeman, Executive Director of Industry Engagement for the Monash BDI, the keynote speaker was introduced. Dr Amanda Caples, Lead Scientist for Victoria, shared her journey from academia, to industry, and now policy. Dr Caples also shared her vision for the sector, including building infrastructure, attracting and retaining talent, and fostering a culture of innovation in Victoria.

“STEM skills equip people to be successful in education, work and life.  These skills are needed for a prosperous Victoria, so it’s fantastic to see the Monash BDI hosting events like this – bringing together industry and academia to spark new collaborations, drive innovation and make an impact,” Dr Caples said.

Dr Caple’s speech was followed by the much-anticipated final competition of So You Think You Can Pitch? This ECR competition highlights the Monash BDI’s most industry-oriented young scientists. These ECRs propose innovative research with the potential to shape the nature of human disease in a five-minute pitch, judged by industry experts.

This year, the judging panel included:

  • Kathy Connell, Johnson & Johnson Innovation
  • Dr Rob Crombie, Que Oncology
  • Dr Anand Gautam, Pfizer
  • Dr Christine Bjørn Jensen, Novo Nordisk A/S

Five outstanding and polished contestants competed in the pitching competition. The calibre of the pitches was so high that the judging panel took almost 30 minutes (longer than any previous year) to deliberate. Judge spokesperson Kathy Connell said that all of the judges were very impressed with the quality of each of the pitches.

Dr Mitchell Lawrence, from the Risbridger lab, received first prize ($2,000) for his pitch Landmarks in the tumour microenvironment as new biomarkers for prostate cancer.

Dr Yu-Wei Lin, from Jian Li’s lab, received runner-up ($500) for his pitch Developing a bioweapon again ‘superbugs’: an alternative to antibiotics. Audience favourite ($500) was PhD student Monica Goney, from the Harrison lab, with her pitch Inhibin therapy: worth the weight.

Thanking the BDI for the chance to pitch his research, Dr Lawrence said “The BDI Industry Showcase was a great opportunity to present my research in a new way and get invaluable advice from industry experts”.

Dr Simona John von Freyend (Repurposing cancer drugs as novel antimalarials) and Dr Yogitha Srikanta (Spore Wars: anti-sporulation strategies targeting Clostridium difficile) also competed with distinction.

“This has been another successful Industry Showcase for the Monash BDI. We were very pleased to see so many representatives from various pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies in attendance,” Professor Sleeman said.

“It goes to show that this is a not-to-be-missed event in the Melbourne pharm/biotech industry calendar!” he said.

We once again thank MTPConnect and the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund for sponsoring the first and runner-up prizes for the 2018, So You Think You Can Pitch?

About the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute

Committed to making the discoveries that will relieve the future burden of disease, the newly established Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute at Monash University brings together more than 120 internationally-renowned research teams. Our researchers are supported by world-class technology and infrastructure, and partner with industry, clinicians and researchers internationally to enhance lives through discovery.