Media Release, 23 October 2014

A biomedical researcher whose personal loss spurred her on to develop new cancer treatments was named tonight as the 2014 Telstra Victorian Business Woman of the Year.

Dr Tracey Brown, Chief Scientific Officer at biopharmaceutical company Alchemia, was presented with her award at the 20th Telstra Victorian Business Women's Awards held at Crown Melbourne.

During a career spanning 25 years of research and biotechnology, Dr Brown gained valuable experience in international cancer institutes before returning to Australia and developing a tumour-targeting anti-cancer therapy that makes current cancer drugs more effective and less toxic.

Dr Brown says: “My mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the young age of 53. By supporting her through her devastating disease and chemotherapy, I realised that there was a significant unmet need for better anti-cancer therapies.”

She launched her own biotechnology company Meditech Research which was acquired by Alchemia in 2006.

The move provided her with the financial support to realise her vision of creating a facility that could develop drugs from conception through to clinical evaluation and has allowed for the late-stage development of her cancer-targeting drug delivery platform HyACT.

At Alchemia, Dr Brown’s role ranges from overseeing product development to communicating drug innovations and strategies to investors, clinicians and the pharmaceutical industry.

An author of 100 scientific articles and book chapters, Dr Brown’s research team at Alchemia has pre-clinically developed eight anti-cancer drugs with the lead drug currently being evaluated in a global phase III clinical trial.

She says the HyACT technology’s wide applicability provides enormous potential for future growth and market expansion within the multi-billion dollar global oncology market.

Dr Brown, who also won the Private and Corporate Sector Award, said: “This proprietary drug-delivery technology (HyACT) could be considered as the next generation of cancer therapeutics.”

Other 2014 winners include Kate Weiss, founder of food production company Table of Plenty; Maria Deveson Crabbe, CEO of Marie Stopes International Australia; Kate Morris, owner of online beauty retailer; and Mia Klitsas, founder of female hygiene products start-up Millie & More.

Kate McKenzie, Telstra Chief Operations Officer and Telstra Business Women’s Awards Ambassador said: “As I reflect on the achievements of the amazing women that have won these Awards over the past 20 years, I am confident that the 2014 Victorian winners will continue to inspire the next generation.

“They embody what it means to be a Telstra Business Woman’s Award winner - courageous, confident and innovative.”

Ms McKenzie said Dr Brown demonstrated strong achievement in both her business and community contributions.

“The Telstra Awards judges described her as an outstanding business woman who reflects the values of the Awards - successful, humble about her achievements and committed to her cause.”

The Victorian Minister for Women’s Affairs, The Honourable Heidi Victoria also congratulated the winners, saying: “The Victorian Government warmly congratulates the winners on their outstanding achievements tonight. They set a great example to all Victorians of what women achieve in business and beyond.”

Previous Telstra Awards winners in Victoria include Sadhana Smiles, CEO of Harcourts Victoria, Janine Allis, founder of Boost Juice, and Carolyn Creswell, owner of Carmen Fine Foods.

The Victorian winners proceed to the national finals in Melbourne on 26 November. For finalists and winners across Australia the awards offer a share in $650,000 in cash and prizes.

2014 Telstra Victorian Business Woman of the Year
Dr Tracey Brown Alchemia Clayton

Business Owner Award
Kate Weiss Table of Plenty Cheltenham

Life is a precious gift. This truth hit home for Kate Weiss after she gave birth to a daughter with a disability. Rediscovering a passion for life, her subsequent research into food, nutrition and wellbeing led to the creation of Table of Plenty, with products that are now stocked in both major local supermarkets and supermarkets overseas. Her vision to lead a revolution in healthy eating in Australia has also provided tens of thousands of hours of work for people with a disability. The Telstra Awards judges said that Ms Weiss is an entrepreneur with strong values and a social conscience who’s grown Table of Plenty from selling at farmers markets to a $10 million revenue business.

Private & Corporate Sector Award
Dr Tracey Brown Alchemia Clayton

Community & Government Award
Maria Deveson Crabbe Marie Stopes International Australia Melbourne

Maria Deveson Crabbe’s passion for women's health has seen her as a patron and board member and now CEO of Marie Stopes International (MSI) Australia. In 2013, more than 15.6 million people globally used a contraceptive method provided by MSI, which estimates the services it provides averted 14,300 maternal deaths. MSI Australia’s social business generates income streams that are reinvested to increase accessibility, add more products, and donate more funds into priority regional programs. The Telstra Awards judges said Ms Deveson Crabbe’s composure in the face of business challenges and her ability to stay outcome-focused have led to significant business achievements.

Business Innovation Award
Kate Morris Brunswick West

Unable to access beauty products she saw in magazines, Launceston-raised Kate Morris launched online retailer in 2000. Regular comments from customers about their inability to match foundation colours online led Kate to create Findation. It uses crowdsourced data and an algorithm to help users match their foundation shades. Women all over the world visit the site to find colours across brands and products. The Telstra Awards judges said that Ms Morris is a highly innovative entrepreneur with a constant focus on renewal strategies to ensure her business stays relevant but true to its original purpose.

Young Business Women’s Award
Mia Klitsas Millie & More North Melbourne

At 22 and with $1000 in hand, Mia Klitsas decided to design her own range of women's personal care products. She started Millie & More and launched Moxie tampons in 2006 in reusable and recyclable, retro-styled tin packs. Passionate about global women's rights, she’s championed a 'Pads for Pads' initiative that supports Ugandan schoolgirls with sustainable feminine hygiene solutions. The project has supported 6350 girls in just six months. The Telstra Awards judges said Ms Klitsas showed courage, strength and tenacity in setting up her business, breaking into large retail chains and expanding into Uganda, adding that she has strong business acumen.