AusBiotech launches world-first ESG Guide for biotech SMEs


AusBiotech’s landmark 'A Practical Guide to ESG for Australian Life Sciences Companies' is launched to help SMEs attract investment and navigate environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting.

After more than a year of collaborative development with industry leaders, AusBiotech is proud to launch A Practical Guide to ESG for Australian Life Sciences Companies (the Guide) as a pragmatic and easy-to-use ESG tool for biotechs.

Targeted at biotech SMEs, the Guide intends to build ESG reporting capabilities within life science companies, as part of AusBiotech’s broader mission to increase and diversify investment into the Australian biotech sector via its investment programme.

Developed with the support of the AusBiotech ESG Working Group comprised of investors, life science companies, and experts, the Guide enables a consistent approach to proactively identify and report on key ESG factors that are particularly relevant to life science companies. 

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. 

Due to the evolving nature of ESG reporting and regulation, and the level of subjectivity on what’s most relevant and important to each company, there are no agreed universal standards, tools or metrics to guide companies on their ESG programme. The lack of standardisation underpins the rationale for this new ESG Guide: a voluntary set of guidelines tailored specifically for Australian SME companies operating in the life sciences sector.

“It was very important for us to empower SMEs in the biotech sector who are heavily dependent on investment and venture capital to start their ESG journey,” said AusBiotech CEO Lorraine Chiroiu.

The Guide is designed to be a reference for company executives and boards to highlight the importance of establishing ESG programmes, understand the materiality of factors specific to the life sciences industry and their own individual company, initiate a process to assess strengths and gaps, and provide a starting point for implementation and communication.

It is also intended to be a useful resource for investors as a guide to understanding the priority ESG considerations for life sciences companies, as criteria for assessing their ESG credentials.

Globally, awareness of the importance of ESG factors has grown over the past decade and it is increasingly regarded as an integral aspect of contemporary best practice for companies and for investors. The life sciences industry is distinctive by virtue of its inherent link to social good as the innovators and advancers of science and technology to deliver potentially life-changing and life-saving therapies, vaccines, diagnostics, devices and digital health solutions that have global significance for humankind.

Australia’s life sciences industry currently boasts over 1,400 companies undertaking research and development, the majority of which are small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Supporting these nascent companies to develop and communicate proactive ESG strategies, policies and practices will enhance the reputation and credibility of our sector, lead to increased investor confidence and attraction, and assist to deliver timely and innovative health outcomes.

However, with 93 per cent of small cap companies in Australia currently not reporting on ESG, there exists an opportunity for companies to differentiate themselves within the market and in the eyes of potential investors.

AusBiotech developed the Guide to increase the attractiveness of Australia’s business environment to international and local investors and collaborators, having been identified in AusBiotech’s Biotechnology Blueprint, the sector’s decadal strategy written by the industry, for the industry.

Download the full guide here.