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2021 Prize for New Innovators

Associate Professor Michael Bowen 

Associate Professor Bowen’s research has been critical in the discovery and development of KNX100, a novel molecule that has considerable potential to treat addiction and other disorders of the brain and mind. KNX100 is now being developed to treat opioid-use disorder, which kills more people in Australia each year than car accidents.

KNX100 is being commercialised by Kinoxis Therapeutics, a company he co-founded in 2018. Associate Professor Bowen leads the company’s scientific program as the Chief Scientific Officer. Kinoxis Therapeutics has attracted more than $10 million in funding, and under Associate Professor Bowen’s scientific leadership, its valuation has increased by more than 20-fold since 2018.

Associate Professor Bowen’s work is a demonstration of the innovation and all-round impact that can be achieved through research partnerships between universities, industry and government.  

Watch a video about their work

[Music plays and the image shows a slide showing the Australian Government Crest, Prize for New Innovators medallion animated and turning, and the words 2021 Prize for New Innovators, and the name, Associate Professor Michael Bowen]

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Assoc Prof Michael Bowen: My name is Michael Bowen. I'm an Associate Professor at the University of Sydney and I'm the co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Kinoxis Therapeutics.
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Over the past decade, a major focus of my research has been on discovering and developing novel therapeutics for substance use disorders.

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In the past few years, my team have been particularly focused on opioid use disorder.

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Opioids are drugs that are widely used in the medical management of pain, but they can also be highly addictive and very dangerous.

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In fact opioid overdoses kill more people in Australia each year than car accidents.

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We discovered a novel compound called KNX100 that has powerful anti-addictive properties.

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To commercialize KNX100, Kinoxis Therapeutics was founded and in a major partnership between the company, the US National Institutes of Health and my team at the Brain and Mind Centre, we discovered that KNX100 has considerable potential to treat opioid use disorder.

[Images move through to show Michael and colleagues looking at a computer, Michael watching colleagues working in a lab, and Michael in conversation with a colleague in the lab]

We've been working on KNX100 for a number of years and it was becoming increasingly apparent the more studies we ran, that we were onto something pretty special.

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We were able to attract Uniseed to come on board as our cornerstone investor, along with a consortium of some of Australia's most notable investors. Kinoxis Therapeutics was born and to date our investors have supported us to the tune of over $10 million.

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The next year is going to be huge for Kinoxis.

[Images move through to show Michael looking through the microscope, Michael talking to the camera, Michael and a colleague working in a lab, and Michael looking at blue liquid in a flask]

In the opioid use disorder space the countdown is on to the first clinical trial with KNX100, which will make it the only novel compound in clinical development for opioid use disorder anywhere in the world.

[Image changes to show a close view of Michael talking to the camera]

It's an honour to be the recipient of the 2021 Prize for New Innovators. It makes me really proud of everything that the team at the university, and Kinoxis Therapeutics has achieved over the years, but it's also really important recognition that this model of universities, industry and governments working closely together is a powerful way to find solutions to wicked problems like the opioid crisis.

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See their acceptance speech

[Image shows a slide showing the Australian Government Crest, Prize for New Innovators medallion animated and turning, and the words 2021 Prize for New Innovators, and the name, Associate Professor Michael Bowen]

[Image changes to show Michael dressed in a suit and tie talking to the camera and a Prize medallion and text appears: Associate Professor Michael Bowen]

It's a tremendous honour to be the recipient of the 2021 Prize for New Innovators, and I thank the Prime Minister and the Minister for Science and Technology. I'd like to thank everyone who has worked on the KNX100 program over the years. There are far too many to thank here, but there are a few people and organisations that I would like to specifically thank. Firstly Professors, Ian McGregor and Michael Kassiou. Without your vision to establish a collaboration between your teams all of those years ago, there would be no KNX100. A huge thank you to the University of Sydney for supporting this program, 100% every step of the way.

To my team at the Brain and Mind Centre and School of Psychology, thank you for doing such an amazing job and always making me look good. To Uniseed, thank you for seeing the potential in this program and getting behind it. Your support has been transformational. And to all of our investors, thank you for making what we do possible. Thank you to the Kinoxis co-founder and CEO, Hugh Alsop, and the whole team at Kinoxis. Working with you over the past four years has been the most exciting time of my career.

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Thank you to the Australian Government for supporting the program through the National Health and Medical Research Council, the R & D Tax Incentive Scheme, and the Early Stage Innovation Company

Scheme. Thank you to the US National Institutes of Health for support through the NIDA Medication Development Programme, and through the Helping to End Addiction Long Term Initiative. Finally, a huge thank you to all of my family, and close friends for supporting me every step of the way.

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