Industry-backed plan to navigate Australian biotech into future

For the first time in 20 years, Australia’s biotechnology sector has united to launch the Biotechnology Blueprint: A Decadal Strategy for the Australian Biotechnology Industry – a shared industry vision and ‘blueprint’ navigating the biotech ecosystem as it aspires to build solid companies, create more jobs, commercialise more biotechnologies, build sovereign capabilities, and deliver greater benefits and returns to Australia and all Australians.

With COVID-19 serving as an important reminder that Australia will need our biotech industry to help it face uncertain future threats, including the ongoing and increasingly common chronic health challenges, there has never been a more important time to proactively plan and shape the coming decade as a community and as an industry.

This valuable opportunity has been realised through the development of a clear decadal plan for the Australian biotechnology industry, as it strives to maximise on Australia’s vibrant and valuable sector, and identify the steps that should be taken in the near term to ensure that positive future is realised.

As the voice of Australia’s biotechnology industry, AusBiotech has led the development of the Biotechnology Blueprint (Blueprint) over the past two years, and it comprises of the contribution of almost 350 individuals and organisations, all working to realise the potential of biotechnology in our society.

AusBiotech CEO Lorraine Chiroiu said, “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.”

“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 Australian biotech industry’s vision is that over the coming decade it will: become a more mature, vibrant ecosystem; with a more established global and domestic standing; and be a stronger, more positive contributor to the Australian economy and its population.

The Blueprint includes many significant and detailed recommendations uncovered through thorough consultation and discussion, building upon AusBiotech’s existing knowledge from its more than 35 years operating as an industry leader. There are eight core, critical areas of focus:

  1. Re-orient support for commercialisation to enable a dual focus on (academia and industry) commercialisation, through programmes and initiatives incentivising partnerships, addressing key gaps, building awareness of roles, value and capabilities, and supporting collaborative structures.
  2. Deliver specific programmes aimed at transitioning small companies to medium-sized companies, and medium-sized to large, addressing capability and skills gaps, and ensuring access to a diverse capital base and incentives, to allow companies to retain value creation in Australia.
  3. Increase the competitiveness of the Australian operating environment relative to its overseas peers, using a mix of government and industry led initiatives while remaining open and accessible for inward investment.
  4. Build sovereign capabilities in the biotechnology sector, including manufacturing and scale-up, core drug/device/product development expertise, supported by a robust service industry enabling local sourcing and partnering
  5. Increase the knowledge, awareness and understanding of the contribution made by the biotechnology sector, including delivery of aligned metrics and reporting on delivery progress of the Blueprint.
  6. Investment and capital: build, diversify and address gaps in access to capital across the variety of industry organisations, to significantly increase the flow of capital to the biotechnology sector by $1 billion annually.
  7. Talent: Address the gaps in access to appropriate skills and talent, using proactive and resourced initiatives that attract, build and retain core talent essential for the growth of the industry.
  8. Metrics and accountabilities: Deliver consistent momentum on the Blueprint recommendations, using aligned metrics and evidence-based decision-making to guide changes and updates, with shared accountabilities.

Presenting a solutions-based approach, the Blueprint responds to well-articulated, stubborn issues that the industry has grappled with for years, including: access to capital to feed the need for commercialisation, clinical development and growth; growing companies through the commercialisation pathway and reaching market; gaps in technology transfer and commercialisation support; and incentives and structural supports along the pipeline.

The Blueprint aligns with the Federal Department of Health’s new ‘Biotechnology in Australia – Strategic Plan for Health and Medicine’, released as part of the 2022-23 Budget, and was first announced at AusBiotech’s CEO Forum in Canberra in 2019. These long-term commitments traversing election cycles are critical to structurally support Australia’s biotechnology sector and to deliver on the vision and the strategic investments that will solidify and strengthen Australia’s sovereignty and global standing in biotechnology.

Download AusBiotech’s Biotechnology Blueprint here.

Additional quotes from industry champions

In support the strategy’s development, industry champions from the Biotechnology Blueprint’s Expert Leadership Forum said:

Dr James Campbell, CEO, Patrys Ltd; AusBiotech Board member, said, “Tackling industry’s stubborn issues to develop a solutions-focused Blueprint has been a challenging and exacting process, and I offer my congratulations to the executive of AusBiotech for producing this visionary and extensive strategy for the coming decade. Lorraine and her team have done a great job of recognising and addressing the core value drivers, and have developed a strategy that should motivate and enthuse all of AusBiotech’s stakeholders. This process underscores the need for, and value of, AusBiotech as the peak body for biotechnology in the country.”

Michelle Burke, Ex-AusBiotech Chair, said, “This comprehensive Blueprint provides industry and associated stakeholders with a plan for growth and success. Given the wide consultation by AusBiotech in generating the report, it can be seen as being representative of industry views about what is needed to continue growth of the industry, which in turn can deliver health, social and economic outcomes.”

Dr Chris Davis, General Manager, Institute for Glycomics; Chair, AusBiotech QLD State Branch Committee; said, “Possibly the most significant and comprehensive strategic document ever developed through contributions of members of the Australian biotech industry, the AusBiotech Biotechnology Blueprint sets a roadmap for government, industry and research organisations to ensure robust and sustained growth of Australia’s biotech industry over the next decade.”

Helen Fisher, Non Executive Director, Paradigm Biopharmaceuticals, said, “The Australian biotech industry is already one of the top employers and creators of wealth in Australia. The Biotechnology Blueprint looks at what can be done to accelerate the impact of the biotech industry on the wealth, health and wellbeing of Australians for the next 10 years. For the biotech industry to flourish, the issue of access to capital funding (especially, for the early to mid commercialisation companies) needs to be addressed. This document provides a clear direction and actionable recommendations to the government, industry participants and investors.”

Marilyn Jones, Director, mexec, said, “Human capital growth, through multiple development strategies, is paramount for the future success of the Australian biotech industry. I believe the Biotechnology Blueprint is essential reading and lays out the foundations for a focused effort from the sector as a whole. It has been a privilege to be involved in the development of a plan that I now look forward to helping to implement.”

Julie Phillips, CEO, Biodiem, said, “Biotech sector voices have provided this plan for efforts to grow and sustain our industry’s important contribution to the Australian economy.”

Dr Siro Perez, Head of Life Sciences, IP Group Australia, said “We are honoured to have contributed to this pivotal document, and are confident that as we navigate this Blueprint we will see the Australian biotechnology sector continue to grow and become one of the key pillars of Australia’s future economy as it increasingly provides wide societal benefits.”

Warren Bingham, Managing Director, BioAnalytics Holdings Ltd, said, “It has been a privilege to contribute to the AusBiotech Biotechnology Blueprint. The Blueprint that is written by industry, for industry as one collaborative voice. The process of creating a shared vision for the industry that is underpinned with the core value of societal good is a powerful approach to uniting and focussing the entire ecosystem for the next 10 years, and aimed at improving clinical outcomes for patients

world-wide.”

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