2017 the best year yet for Australian biotechnology


A buoyant sector, confidence at an all-time high and funds flowing into the sector from the Medical Research Future Fund and its $500 million Biomedical Translation Fund (BTF), as well as MTP Connect grants, have helped shape a successful year for the Australian biotechnology industry and AusBiotech.

AusBiotech welcomes Senator Michaelia Cash on her appointment as Minister for Jobs and Innovation, after the Turnbull Government announced its new Ministry this week. We also welcome Senator Zed Seselja as Assistant Minister for Science, Jobs and Innovation. We look forward to working with the new Ministry in the year ahead, to strengthen and grow the Australia life sciences sector. We note the contribution and support of Senator Arthur Sinodinos, who has now resigned from the Cabinet due to ill health, and wish him a speedy recovery.

A critical industry mission for AusBiotech is the preservation of the R&D Tax Incentive, which has remained the number one public policy issue within the industry for the year. As we await the Government’s response to the ‘Finkel, Ferris, Fraser’ Review, AusBiotech has been actively and emphatically representing members’ interests and will continue to do so. In particular, AusBiotech strongly advocated against the Review’s proposed $2 million cap on the refundable component of the program.

AusBiotech used the results of AusBiotech’s 2017 annual Industry Position Survey of biotechnology industry CEOs to launch a campaign to Members of Parliament and Senators advocating that changes to the R&D Tax Incentive program would damage our hard-won momentum and reduce the sector’s ability to compete on a global stage. As a result of the campaign, AusBiotech arranged meetings with key government representatives and the R&D Tax Incentive was spared from the 2017-2018 Federal Budget.

AusBiotech continues to maintain strong connections with government encouraging members to be active and collaborative and to share their insights, as well as working collaboratively with other representative organisations.

AusBiotech passionately advocated for its members throughout the year by attending more than 26 meetings, consultations and crafting 13 submissions.

AusBiotech has been supported in joint statements on issues impacting across the industry, specifically on the R&D Tax Incentive and the Federal Governments sudden and damaging tightening of skilled migration visas – working with Medicines Australia, MTAA, Research Australia, AAMRI and BioMelbourne Network.

AusBiotech launched a new Life Sciences Sector Snapshot 2017 it commissioned to provide a comprehensive overview of the life sciences sector within Australia, which revealed the magnitude of the life sciences sector for the first time - confirming that there are approximately 232,218 people employed in the Australian life sciences sector, across 1,653 organisations. The research shows that 53 per cent of life sciences organisations in Australia are industry-based, with 875 companies and approximately 30 per cent of the workforce in the sector is employed by industry, at around 69,109 people.

MTPConnect, the Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals Industry Growth Centre, announced it has selected 20 national projects to receive collectively $7.385 million in funding over two years with proposed matched funding of $15.2million coming from the sector.

AusBiotech is pleased to have been awarded funds for two projects: the ‘Australia-China Life Sciences Partnership Program’ (China Program); and the ‘Pan-Asia Regenerative Medicine Alliance (PARMA) Program.

The China Program will work to increase awareness and opportunities for communication, collaboration and commercialisation between the life sciences sector in Australia and China, to deliver high-quality, collaborative research and industry projects as well as valuable data analytics on commercial engagement between the two countries.

The PARMA Program, aims to develop and implement a global framework to identify and match research, marketing and investment opportunities in regenerative medicine, leveraging the pre-existing relationship between the sectors in South Korea, Japan and Australia to test and develop PARMA before expanding to other countries.

The well-attended AusBiotech 2017 national conference saw the AusBiotech and Johnson & Johnson Innovation Industry Excellence Awards recognise innovative companies and individuals in Australia’s world-class biotechnology, medical technology and healthcare sectors. We reiterate congratulations to:

  • Industry Leadership Award: Mrs Lusia Guthrie
  • Company of the Year: Planet Innovation
  • Emerging Company of the Year: CancerAid

The sector also saw the first investments announced from the $500 million Biomedical Translation Fund (BTF).

AusBiotech activities snapshot for 2017

As 2017 nears its end, we are proud to reflect on the global standing of our industry and the dedication of our members. AusBiotech has continued to underpin the future growth of the Australian life sciences industry: 

  • Hosted 54 events in total, including 44 state events, 5 national events and 5 international events;
  • Extended the investment series to Shanghai;
  • Attracted 6,561 delegates to events in total;
  • Held a successful AusBiotech national conference in Adelaide, attracting 985 delegates from 18 countries, the largest delegations from China, Japan, NZ, Singapore and South Korea, UK and the USA – to network, collaborate and discuss sector successes and issues;
  • Launched new sector statistics showing a significant life sciences sector, Life Sciences Sector Snapshot 2017;
  • Launched the Roadmap to a successful Life Sciences IPO and Cell Therapies and Regenerative Medicine in Australia;
  • Made more than 13 submissions to governments and attended more than 60 meetings with various government departments and Parliamentarians;
  • Represented the industry at 26 consultations meetings;
  • 140 e-newsletters, Biotech Dispatch;
  • 3 Australasian Biotechnology journals;
  • Generated more than 110 media articles;
  • Facilitated more than 1,500 partnering meetings, through the business matching program;
  • Managed Australia’s delegation to BIO in the US for the 11th consecutive year;
  • Grew the NSW Women in Life Sciences Luncheon with the second event in March;
  • Attracted record numbers to AusMedtech 2017 in Melbourne with 400 delegates.


AusBiotech has welcomed two new Directors with the appointment of Dr Megan Baldwin and the election of Professor Jan Tennent.

CEO Biotechnology Industry Position Survey

Look out for the annual CEO survey, which will commence early in 2018, to collect a snapshot of industry sentiment, industry metrics and topical public policy issues. The survey results will shape our advocacy work for the year ahead and AusBiotech urges its members to contribute to this important body of information.

Office closure

The AusBiotech office will be closed over the holiday period from 12:00 noon Friday 22 December 2017 until 9.00am Wednesday 3 January 2018. BiotechDispatch will resume on Tuesday 16 January 2018. We wish AusBiotech members a happy and safe festive period. We thank you for your support and look forward to working with you again in 2017.

Save the dates for 2018 events

We are currently planning to run up to 70 events in the New Year. Save the dates for:

NSW Women in Life Sciences Luncheon 2018, 9 March, Sydney

Asian Investment Series 2018

  • Hong Kong Biotech Invest & Partnering, 13 March, Hong Kong
  • Australia-China Biotech Invest & Partnering, 15 -16 March, Shanghai

QLD Women in Life Sciences Luncheon 2018, 16 March, Brisbane

TTS Australia 2018, 17 – 18 April, Brisbane

AusMedtech 2018, 1 – 2 May, Adelaide

Bio International Convention 2018, 4 – 7 June, Boston

AusAg & Foodtech Summit 2018, 3 – 4 September, Melbourne

Australia Biotech Invest & Partnering, 29 – 30 October, Melbourne

AusBiotech 2018, 31 October – 2 November, Brisbane