AusBiotech unveils 10-year blueprint for the biotech sector

Brandon How

Life sciences industry representative body AusBiotech has launched a 10-year strategy for the biotechnology sector in an effort to “herald an era of Australian discovery, translationa and innovation”.

The report calls for improved access to capital, company growth through the commercialisation pathway, a reduction in gaps in technology transfer and commercialisation support, and an increase in incentives and structural support along the commercialisation pipeline.

To develop the blueprint, the group received input from 350 individuals and organisations over the past two years. A 17 member Biotechnology Blueprint Leadership Forum with representatives from academia and the private sector also advised on the blueprint. The group itself has around 3000 members across the life sciences, MedTech, and AgriBioTech sectors.

Industry group AusBiotech has launched a 10-year strategy recommendation for Australian biotech

AusBiotech chief executive Lorraine Chiroiu said that the strategy, released last Thursday, is an important framework for further developing the local biotechnology industry.

“Australia has a wealth of innovative medicines, vaccines, and medical technologies being developed; to support them reaching Australian patients and improve and extend the quality of human life, we need to focus on creating the right environment for companies to innovate and grow, build dedicated research infrastructure, and enlist the Australian healthcare system as an active partner,” Ms Chiroiu said.

“The Biotechnology Blueprint is, at its core, a ‘blueprint’ for societal good, and through its implementation, we can herald an era of Australian discovery, translation and innovation. It’s a chance to achieve great things for Australian biotech, Australia, and Australians.”

The report is structured under three overarching goals: to have a more mature and vibrant ecosystem, an increased local and global standing, and a more positive contributor to Australian prosperity.

It also outlines eight recommendations for government to bolster its support, including to re-orient commercialisation to focus on academia and industry partnerships, specific programs to help SMEs grow, to build sovereign capabilities in hte sector and to increase the flow of capital to the sector by $1 billion annually.

General manager at the Institute for Glycomics at Griffith University and chair of the Queensland state branch committee of AusBiotech Dr Chris Davis described the plan as “possibly the most significant and comprehensive strategic document ever developed through contributions of members of the Australian biotech industry”.

AusBiotech said that the blueprint aligns with the biotechnology strategy released by the federal Department of Health under the federal budget 2022-23. The group also highlighted the importance of long-term commitments given bio-pharmaceutical products can take up to 14 years before they are available on the market.

Current long-term support includes the federal Medical Research Future Fund which released its second 10-year investment plan at the end of March 2022. Of the $20 billion in the fund, $6.3 billion worth of initiatives are included in the 2022-23 to 2031-32 plan.

This includes the Medical Research Commercialisation Initiative designed to support and provide commercialisation opportunities for early-stage health and medical research. According to the report, small and medium sized enterprises comprise 80 per cent of the industry.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that biomedical and clinical sciences is the field higher education organisations expend the most on for research and development. Almost $2.79 billion was invested in 2020, while the field with the third and fourth greatest expenditure were health sciences and biological sciences. These fields received $1.25 billion and $956 million respectively.

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