AusBiotech responds to university research commercialisation consultation


AusBiotech united voices across the biotech pipeline as it responded to the University Research Commercialisation (URC) consultation and provided views on how any new scheme must be set in the context of a strategic long-term national objective.

The capability and capacity gaps directly impact the early investment required for biotechnologies to reach market and flourish. A united approach that aims at long term, sustainable solutions will aid in steering the sector to a more sustainable growth and better return on investment. As such, any commercialisation strategy in this space should form part of a long term (10+ years) plan, which provides space for the cultivation of these critical skills.

The Department of Education, Skills and Employment’s consultation paper explored possible mechanisms to incentivise and increase partnerships between businesses and universities. AusBiotech highlighted how it is vital that potential solutions to gaps in Australia’s commercialisation landscape are considered within the unique context associated with the biotechnology sector.

Existing support (programs, advice, funds, information, education, experience) available for researchers is disjointed, inconsistent, often hidden and unequitable in terms of access. Despite the range of varied support available across Australia, finding and accessing this is dependent on geography, the university and its expertise/programs and other barriers. Equally, within the Federal Government, there are at least four portfolios that have key responsibilities for this sector and yet there is no “whole of government approach”.

Any new scheme should be at scale nationally, accessible to all researchers translating and commercialising, that meet a set assessable bar, with a single ‘front door’, and set in the context of a strategic long‐term national objective.

Australia holds world-class research; however, it is recognised that the existing paradigm needs to shift to encourage and accelerate universities’ commercialisation outcomes.

AusBiotech members joined a virtual roundtable and one-to-one meetings with Lorraine Chiroiu, CEO, as it developed its response. Drawing upon global examples of how private-public partnerships have been successfully supported in other jurisdictions, AusBiotech responded to key elements outlined in the consultation paper, including:

  • mission-driven research;
  • stage-gated design;
  • incentives for participation;
  • industry-university collaboration; and,
  • governance.

Australia’s medical and health research ecosystem is the funnel into the industry’s pipeline so if world-class research residing in academia cannot be commercialised, it cannot reach the ultimate beneficiaries: the patients. Australia’s biotech innovation is critically important to the long-term social and economic success of our nation, but particularly in the short to medium term COVID-19 recovery. Focusing URC efforts will boost the economy and optimise community benefit from public investment in medical research.

The Department is developing a scoping study that will outline options for a new model for URC. The scoping study will be presented to the Government later in the year for consideration and decisions on the next steps of implementation. AusBiotech looks forward to being involved in future discussions on improving the commercialisation of research in Australia.

Read the full AusBiotech’s submission here.