Medtech entrepreneur finds success in commercialisation

September 21, 2020

Professor Tony Weiss will join Dr Maryam Parviz and Dr Debbie Saunders in a Spark Festival discussion at 12 noon on 15 October from 12 pm. Crazy Works – Startups have more impact than papers will consider how academic researchers can be better prepared to create startups.

Inspiring Australia NSW is partnering with Uniseed and Sydney Knowledge Hub to present a Spark Festival discussion on 15 October. Speaking on the panel will be Professor Tony Weiss from the University of Sydney.

While academic studies investigate big questions and can solve global problems when new knowledge is taken to market, Australia still lags in its commercialisation of science and technology research developed in universities. Inspiring Australia NSW is partnering with Uniseed and Sydney Knowledge Hub to present a Spark Festival discussion on 15 October looking at this continuing shortfall and how academic researchers can be better prepared to create startups. 

A successful medtech entrepreneur, biochemist and molecular biotechnologist, Tony commercialised tropoelastin and founded a spinoff biotechnology company, Elastagen, from the University of Sydney. 

From 2008 to 2018, through ongoing research collaboration and further IP development through Tony’s lab at the University of Sydney, Elastagen, through its CEO and Board, raised $19,000,000 venture capital from investors in raised $19M in venture capital from investors in Australia, UK, Japan and South Korea.

The company also secured grant funding from renowned groups such as the Wellcome Trust in the UK and Australian grants totalling $6M, along with Ausindustry R&D tax credit funding. Tony’s inventions have since been recognised with 105 awarded patents in 22 patent families. 

In 2018, Elastagen was acquired by Allergan plc, one of the world’s 20 largest biopharmaceutical companies, in a transaction totalling US$260M, one of the largest completed in the Australian life science sector.

Tony, who is an active mentor of up-and-coming entrepreneurs at the University of Sydney, believes that there are increasingly more academic researchers considering commercial pathways.

“It’s driven by a range of motives, a lot to do with getting lab funding but also because researchers increasingly want to see their discoveries translate into something that helps society “ he said.

Tony advises researchers wishing to commercialise their inventions to interact with like-minded colleagues at technology parks and incubators. And while not critical to starting a business, he believes it helps to have mentors and broad support from a university.

“I found support in having smart colleagues and mentors, accessing strategic networks and the right types of funding,” Tony said. “The university resources that were most helpful to me included having access to a supportive tech transfer office and senior staff, a great lab and people willing to back my strong desire to succeed.”

Startups have more impact than papers

Professor Tony Weiss will join Dr Maryam Parviz and Dr Debbie Saunders in a Spark Festival discussion at 12 noon on 15 October from 12 pm. Crazy Works – Startups have more impact than papers will consider how academic researchers can be better prepared to create startups. 


This event is part of Spark Festival, Australia’s largest event for startups, innovators and entrepreneurs. Register here to gain access to the full livestream, running daily from Oct 12 – 23, and check out the range of STEM related events here

Image courtesy of University of Sydney. Guest post by Jackie Randles, Manager Inspiring Australia NSW. https://inspiringnsw.org.au/ 

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