Commercialisation the key to biotechnology's future
Funding to secure continual commercialisation of research is the key to fostering continued growth in the country’s biotechnology industry, according to an expert advisory panel.
AusBiotech’s CEO, Dr Anna Lavelle, said that the findings show that few Australians realise that the nation’s biotechnology industry was worth $32 billion with 350-400 companies producing greater export income than the wine or auto-manufacturing industries.
The expert panel which also included industry representatives, Headland Vision, Proprietor, Dr Meera Verma, GBS Venture Partners, Partner, Dr Joshua Funder, and Biosensis, Director, Dr Leanna Read, said greater policy focus was required to:
- Promote commercialisation of research and translation of research into products;
- Secure continuity of existing industry programs;
- Remove obstacles to growing biotech companies such as stamp duty on deals between biotech companies and withholding tax for loss-making companies;
- Promote Australia as a destination for clinical trials, which would drive better treatment and greater opportunities for translation in the Australian health care system;
- Create industry sabbaticals for academics to allow them to participate in translational or commercialisation projects while maintaining their tenure and students;
- Promote superannuation fund investment in innovative companies by leveraging government funding;
- Boost the Innovation Investment Fund from $100 million to $500 million per annum to successfully attract superannuation funding in innovative industries; and
- Remove the moratorium on Genetically Modified crops in South Australia.
Dr Verma said that while the Australian biotechnology sector had great opportunities for expansion, it was hindered by a number of roadblocks.
"Agricultural biotech is being strangled in SA because there is an arbitrary holistic moratorium on GM crops. That indicates a lack of understanding about the science behind it - a lack of interest in challenging those ideas... We are the only state that has it - even Tassie doesn't have it (the moratorium) any more," she said.
"It would be great to get these (roadblocks) all in a bucket and say right, if we are really going to be serious about innovation… let's turn this thing around."