A roadmap of recommendations to minimise and mitigate the COVID-19 impacts on the biotechnology industry, and to facilitate the fastest recovery possible, has been submitted by AusBiotech to the National COVID-19 Coordination Commission (NCCC).
AusBiotech continues to champion advocacy and be the voice of the sector. The NCCC submission acknowledged the impact on the sector and offered policy recommendations and significant opportunities for our industry to accelerate growth, founded on the innovation and strength already present in Australia.
The Commission has two key roles: to help minimise and mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 on jobs and businesses and to facilitate the fastest possible recovery of lives and livelihoods.
Commentators around the world are calling biotechnology’s response to COVID-19, its ‘finest hour’ as it pivots to fast track COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, diagnostics and digital health solutions. Globally, biotechnology companies are playing a critical role in the pandemic response.
Australia is well on its way to achieving the vision of a successful bio-economy. However, the sector is particularly sensitive to policy settings around investment attraction, research funding along with the value creation ‘pipeline’, and the taxation environment, in the context of global enterprise where Australian comparative advantage is key. To capture this opportunity, policy settings are being sought that provide an incentive to create and retain value in Australia.
The biotechnology industry has, like many others, been impacted by this pandemic, and to realise the future opportunities Australia envisages, AusBiotech outlined three key goals it believes appropriate for focus by the NCCC.
In seeking the swiftest possible recovery post-COVID-19, AusBiotech recommends for Australia to:
- Link the notion of ideas, people and capital as a triumvirate for value creation through policy development;
- be as self-sufficient as possible;
- develop domestic capabilities around additive and advanced manufacturing, thereby reducing the nation’s reliance on foreign manufacturers of innovative technologies;
- Support the maturation of SMEs along the value chain, as the ‘engine room’ of the economy;
- address the market failure of expansion capital attraction due to diminished availability of risk-tolerant capital sources; and,
- Policy changes (especially any reductions in support) to be implemented in a staged, considered way to enhance investor confidence and increase certainty in planning.
Government has an important role in projecting and conveying confidence in the life sciences sector. While there have been positive steps, COVID-19 requires that we double our collective efforts to ensure that Australia accelerates fastest out of the difficult climate.
AusBiotech urged the NCCC to consider developing policy settings around government role in:
- Investment attraction;
- Research funding along the value creation ‘pipeline’;
- Changes to the taxation environment that include incentives to create and retain value in Australia;
- Improved self-sufficiency in additive and advanced manufacturing; and,
- Attraction and retention of talent through migration/visa policy of specialised skills.