Year of collective success: 2023 in review

The past 12 months have been significant in progressing Australia’s biotechnology industry. With the collective efforts and foresight of industry, we have many successes to be proud of, initiatives to celebrate, stories to share, and new ground that’s been broken.

When reflecting on the exponential growth and success of Australia’s biotechnology industry over the past year, it is something we can collectively be proud of. AusBiotech thanks its members for their engagement over the past year, and to the hundreds of national advisory group, state branch committee, and event programme committee members for their voluntary contributions throughout the year.

Please note that AusBiotech’s office will be closed from 12.00pm AEDT Friday 22 December 2023, reopening at 9.00 am on Tuesday 2 January 2024. BiotechDispatch will recommence from Tuesday 23 January 2024.

Highlights for 2023

Implementing the Biotechnology Blueprint

This year has focused on delivering towards goals identified in the industry-backed plan, after the launch of the Biotechnology Blueprint, Australia’s decadal biotech strategy in 2022. The Blueprint is a strong advocacy tool for our entire sector, developed to harness our potential and deliver more jobs, economic success, and better health and wellbeing of our citizens.

AusBiotech delivered two additional data projects this year, increasing the total metrics actively tracked, and building industry’s knowledge base. Delivering on these metrics is strategically important as it enables us to track the sector’s progress and allows us to understand and increase awareness of the sector’s social and economic contributions.

AusBiotech published a report with Deloitte Access Economics quantifying the economic impact of the R&D Tax Incentive in biotechnology in Australia. The report underlines the critical role of Government in developing and retaining fit-for-purpose policy beyond election cycles, and highlights what is possible with stable working policies that support the needs of industry. The report contributes to the metric identified in the Blueprint, Metric 3.1 ‘Return on Investment’ and revealed that, for biotech, for every dollar of forgone tax revenue, the incentive has generated a return of $3.14, in turn demonstrating the value add the industry has on the Australian economy.

AusBiotech launched its pilot foreign direct investment project, which saw the development of the US Investment in Australian Life Sciences Snapshot 2023 (the Snapshot), in partnership with Austrade, quantifying the amount of US-originated capital flowing into Australia’s life science companies. Increasing access to capital and attracting investment into the sector are key strategic priorities for the industry. This project marks the establishment of an evidence base for supporting foreign direct investment into Australian life sciences.

These projects will support AusBiotech’s advocacy activities, as we speak to governments, investors, and international companies seeking to partner with Australia.

As the voice of industry, AusBiotech has been championing policy and advocacy. Some of its advocacy highlights over the past year include:

  • uniting industry as it campaigned for Australia’s world-class regulator to be empowered through an updated funding model in line with international models, which has now been allocated $61 million over four years for its public good activities in the 2023-24 Federal Budget
  • responding to the proposed regulatory changes for medical device clinical trials, which led to confirmation that the Clinical Trials Notification (CTN) and Clinical Trials Approval (CTA) pathways will remain unchanged
  • AusBiotech’s CEO Policy Forum in Canberra with Hon. Ed Husic MP, Minister for Industry and Science, Departmental leaders, and staff to discuss and initiatives for capital attraction, diving into opportunities outlined in the Biotechnology Blueprint;
  • AusBiotech’s Industry Forum with Minister Husic, to discuss the importance, impact and value of key Government programmes for Australia’s biotechnology industry’s development;
  • responding to and supporting key Government programmes, the National Reconstruction Fund (NRF) and Industry Growth Program (IGP), on behalf of industry and voicing how policy design and understanding the unique characteristics of Australia’s life science industry will be fundamental to driving a thriving industry that delivers well-paid jobs developing quality manufactured products that result in strong economic returns and sovereign capabilities in medical manufacturing. We look forward to seeing programmes roll out in 2024 to support the biotech industry.

Investment attraction programme

This year has seen significant strides forward within AusBiotech’s investment programme, with the launch of new resources to support the growth and maturation of Australia’s burgeoning life sciences sector.

AusBiotech’s landmark A Practical Guide to ESG for Australian Life Sciences Companies (the Guide) was developed to support life science companies beginning on their ‘environmental, social, and governance’ (ESG) journey. The Guide is a world-first for the biotechnology sector, with Australia being the first nation to develop an ESG Guide specifically for biotechnology SMEs, after being recognised in the Biotechnology Blueprint as a strategically important resource for the sector.

Demonstrative of its commitment to early-stage innovators, AusBiotech launched its directory of accelerators and incubators relevant to Australian companies, the Australian Life Sciences Incubator and Accelerator Programmes, providing a valuable new resource for early-stage companies navigating the increasing number of programmes available in the Australian ecosystem.

With capital the lifeblood of the sector, rapidly increasing start-up and spinout company numbers, and a dearth of venture capital in Australia compared to other major countries, the thirst for capital continues. AusBiotech remains committed to fostering meaningful relationships between life science companies and investors. Members can expect to see more proactive policy activity on capital attraction in the new year.

AusBioNSW takes a step forward

AusBiotech’s AusBioNSW is the peak industry membership body for NSW, to represent, connect, and promote NSW organisations doing business in and with the local, national and global life sciences economy. Backed by AusBiotech’s national representation on advocacy activities, membership services, events and networks, for AusBiotech members in NSW, no additional membership is required.

Dr Robyn Lindner, General Manager, AusBioNSW, has been meeting with members and the wider ecosystem to understanding the opportunities and challenges facing the local sector, which has led to the development of an industry-led 2023-2025 strategy for the life sciences industry in NSW. To showcase the state’s success and connect members with information and opportunities, AusBiotech has increased its communications with NSW-based members, providing a dedicated monthly e-newsletter and dedicated news feed spotlighting news and media announcements made by NSW-based organisations.

Building Australia’s cell and gene ecosystem

AusBiotech, with the support of the Cell and Gene Manufacturing Taskforce, launched the National Cell and Gene Manufacturing Blueprint in July, outlining how, with a united and coordinated plan, Australia can realise its potential to become a cell and gene (C&G) manufacturing hub for within the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. This industry-developed strategy presents a unified and collaborative approach to expanding sovereign C&G manufacturing capabilities and capacity in Australia. It outlines recommendations on how Australia’s ecosystem can work together to develop the necessary infrastructure, workforce and expertise, to position Australia as a regional leader and deliver a new generation of medical treatments.

Australia’s Cell and Gene Catalyst (Catalyst), a joint venture between AusBiotech and Medicines Australia, appointed Dr Marguerite Evans-Galea AM as Catalyst Director to drive the initiative. Dr Evans-Galea, with the support of the Catalyst’s Expert Steering Group (ESG) comprised of Cell Therapies, CSL Behring, Novartis, Pfizer, Roche, Therapeutic Innovation Australia, is responsible for leading the Catalyst’s strategic direction, development and delivery, with the aim of accelerating Australia’s cell and gene industry and ensuring everyone in Australia has access to advanced therapeutics.

A number of strategic priorities have been identified for the Catalyst, including: attracting, building, and retaining world-class talent; fostering collaboration and knowledge sharing; creating a clear regulatory and market access pathway; and building Australian capability across the entire value chain. The Catalyst called for Expressions of Interest (EOIs) for professionals interested in joining the Catalyst’s three working groups with working group members to be announced in early 2024.

2024 events break attendance records to date

Following on from a strong 2023, this year AusBiotech continued to break attendance records with many of our international, national and state-based events attracting their largest numbers to date, signalling Australia’s growing industry with a desire for connectedness and collaboration.

This year we have seen our largest numbers for AusBiotech 2023; BIO 2023; AusMedtech 2023; and our NSW Women in Life Sciences Luncheon. Revisit our event galleries here.

Connecting innovators with investors, AusBioInvest 2023 kicked off Australia’s biggest week in biotech (30 October – 3 November) in Melbourne with 280 attending delegates.

As the nation’s premier life science investment and partnering conference, AusBioInvest 2023 featured fire side chats with Jennifer Nason, Global Chairman, Investment Banking, J.P. Morgan, and Gurkee Singh, Vice President at Eli Lilly and Company, and a panel discussion with key industry figures representing key segments of the ecosystem, in addition to presentations from 26 Australia early to late-stage biotech companies seeking investment and strategic partners. Thank you to our Host State Partner the Victorian Government for its support.

The flagship event of Australia’s biggest week in biotech, AusBiotech 2023 connected more than 1,300 delegates in Brisbane to showcase how life sciences is ‘in our DNA’. More than 22 countries were represented amongst Australian and global life science leaders in attendance, highlighting the growing reach and importance of Australia’s life sciences sector.

AusBiotech 2023, held from 1-3 November, featured an industry-led, gender diverse programme with more than 170 speakers across 50 sessions developed to inform, educate, celebrate, and inspire the life science community.

We were pleased to have the Queensland Government’s strong support as Host State Partner, with (then) Deputy Premier of Queensland, the Hon. Dr Steven Miles, Minister for State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning; and the Hon. Cameron Dick MP, Treasurer and Minister for Trade and Investment, who spoke at the conference Opening Ceremony and conference dinner respectively.

Australia’s premier medtech conference AusMedtech 2023 also attracted one of its largest delegations to date, with more than 400 registered attendees from across the medical technology sector representing 12 different countries including China, India and the United States. The two-day conferenced headed ‘Back to the Future’, with more than 100 local and international speakers considering how to advance our world-class innovations and progress our sector.

AusBiotech was pleased to have the support of Host State Partner the Government of South Australia, with Honourable Chris Picton, Minister for Health and Wellbeing for South Australia officially opening the conference and the Honourable Susan Close, Deputy Premier for South Australia and Minister for Industry, Innovation & Science, Minister for Defence & Space Industries, Minister for Climate, Environment & Water, who opened the conference dinner.

AusBiotech’s flagship conferences lift the profile of the Australian biotechnology industry, share new and ground-breaking knowledge, connect companies, and create access to greater funding sources for companies to develop world-class science into therapies, diagnostics and medical devices.

AusBiotech’s state-based networking functions have been a huge hit this year, with our Women in Life Sciences Luncheon, Clinical Trials dinner, c-suite dinners, 18 BioCheers and End-of-Year function events giving almost 3,300 registered delegates the opportunity to network in an informal setting with other industry professionals in Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide and Perth.

Save the date for 2024

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