2020: An unforgettable year


2020 has been an unforgettable year, with the biotech community’s strong contribution to the global healthcare system and to Australia’s economy shining brightly through the many challenges being faced professionally and personally.

While times have been testing, there have been giant strides for Australian life sciences. Most critically for our industry, after more than four years of advocacy, certainty was delivered after the majority of the proposed changes to the Research and Development Tax Incentive (RDTI) were dropped; Australia embraced telehealth as a standard consultation method, thereby increasing accessibility to healthcare; the sector engaged enthusiastically through AusBiotech’s virtual platforms and first virtual conference: AusBiotech + Invest 2020; goals for the Biotech Blueprint, the sector’s decadal framework, were developed; and the AusBiotech-led Regenerative Medicine (RM) Catalyst Project has begun preparing for Australia’s RM future.

AusBiotech truly is for the industry, by the industry, and COVID-19 has highlighted the collective strength in collaborating and uniting together to deliver in strides. The extraordinary innovation, resilience and dedication of the life sciences industry is humbling, and something that Australia can be proud of.

More than 35 years of AusBiotech and Australian biotechnology: 31 December 2020 marks AusBiotech’s birthday. From humble beginnings with less than 100 members in 1986, AusBiotech has grown to become a strong well-connected, 3,000+ member community representing the entire value chain of biotechnology development.

Throughout 2021, AusBiotech will celebrate the milestone, the work that we have accomplished together, and the opportunities available to industry to drive the sector forward.

2020 by the numbers

  • AusBiotech is the national voice of more than 3,000 AusBiotech members;
  • After more than four years of proposed changes, certainty was delivered on the R&D Tax Incentive (RDTI) Bill;
  • More than 700 delegates joined AusBiotech’s first virtual conference: AusBiotech + Invest 2020;
  • BiotechTalks webcasts, AusBiotech’s virtual platform, was launched to connect the pipeline and ensure linkages and knowledge sharing;
  • Almost 3,000 attendees attended 22 AusBiotech events throughout the year;
  • AusBiotech’s social media communities connects more than 18,000 people;
  • 11 submissions were made on behalf of members;
  • 11 committees regularly met, with more than 95 experts from almost 80 companies;
  • New policy update webcasts were launched for Members;
  • Four new Industry Excellence Awards were announced, celebrating the innovation excellence happening across the country;
  • Six goals developed for the Biotech Blueprint: Australia’s life science industry’s decadal framework, that will underpin and drive industry growth through to 2030; and,
  • Launched the Regenerative Medicine Catalyst Project, to establish a national RM sector ‘catalyst’ collaboration body, and address priority action areas.

Save the dates for 2021 events

AusBiotech’s 2021 events programme is being developed. Save the dates below, and keep an eye on the AusBiotech website as the year progresses:

Championing advocacy

We have sought to deliver strength in advocacy on the issues and opportunities that matter to our stakeholders, and we have an unashamedly aspirational agenda for growth across the industry.

AusBiotech passionately advocated for its members throughout the year by attending more than 30 meetings and consultations, and crafting 11 submissions.

Significant RDTI win: AusBiotech congratulated the Government as through the Federal Budget, the Federal Treasurer delivered significant news on the Research and Development Tax Incentive (RDTI).

A critical industry mission for AusBiotech has been the preservation of the R&D Tax Incentive, which has remained the number one public policy issue within the industry. It was thrilled that the change of position on the RDTI will support and incentivise growth in R&D and manufacturing as Australia recovers from the pandemic.

While the calculations for companies will be dependent on the applicable corporate tax rate, the announcement signified an important and positive shift in the appreciation of the benefits brought by R&D.

Roadmap of recommendations: Throughout Australia’s ‘first wave’ of COVID-19, AusBiotech engaged with the sector and advocated for its needs. This included developing a roadmap of recommendations to minimise and mitigate the COVID-19 impacts on the biotechnology industry, and to facilitate the fastest recovery possible. It highlighted the sector’s sensitivity to policy settings around investment attraction, research funding along the value creation ‘pipeline’, and the taxation environment, in the context of global enterprise where Australian comparative advantage is key. This was submitted by AusBiotech to the National COVID-19 Coordination Commission (NCCC).

Clinical trials: With Australia becoming one of the globe’s lesser COVID-19-impacted countries, AusBiotech developed a policy statement together with the AusBiotech Clinical Trials Advisory Group in support of clinical trial activity in Australia. It highlights how the country’s position, in combination with its well-developed clinical trials sector, gives Australia an opportunity to attract new medical research, technology and clinical trials.

Biotech Blueprint: Australia’s life science industry’s decadal framework: 2020 has been a pivotal year in many ways, and so now is the time to be ambitious about how the biotechnology industry cannot just help solve problems, but also generate the long-term economic growth and social capital that will be needed as we emerge from the current pandemic. AusBiotech is developing and leading this important plan, and has consulted on six draft goals that will underpin and drive industry growth through to 2030. The plan will be progressed through 2021, and will reflect what a vibrant and valuable Australian biotechnology industry could look like in another decade from now.

Regenerative medicine: A new consortium preparing for Australia’s regenerative medicine (RM) future was announced at AusBiotech + Invest 2020. AusBiotech is leading the consortium of seven partners as industry prepares to thrive and drive benefits to Australia’s economy and the health of its people.

The project will identify and establish a national RM sector ‘catalyst’ collaboration body, and address priority action areas including: workforce capabilities, collaboration, funding, regulation and policy infrastructure, and Australian manufacturing capability. The 12-month project received funding through MTPConnect’s Project Fund Program.

Focusing on growth

AusBiotech + Invest 2020: A new level of global insight and perspective was offered at AusBiotech + Invest 2020, Australia’s largest life sciences conference that assembled virtually for biotech’s biggest week of the year