AusBiotech seeking feedback on Employee Share Schemes policy


Member feedback is invited on a new draft policy whitepaper supporting access to great talent through the Employee Share Schemes (ESS), as AusBiotech works to ensure Australia’s future as an internationally competitive environment for biotechnology.

Whilst Australia’s current ESS policy is supportive, there is potential to make it more effective for biotech SMEs.

As a thriving knowledge economy, access to skills and global talent is a fundamental driver within the biotechnology industry, and there is a shift in the requirement for globally experienced people in a range of areas, including some of the areas that haven’t yet fully developed such as cell and gene manufacturing.

Skills can be rare and are still developing globally, including within Australia. While there is a focus on developing these, Australian companies, particularly SMEs, need the mechanisms available to access those with existing experience and skills within the Australian environment to be able to develop our industry appropriately.

In Australia, ESS play an important role in helping start-ups through to established companies in attracting and retaining core talent. ESS give employees a benefit, such as shares in the company they work for at a discounted price or the opportunity to buy shares in the company in the future. By complementing cash remuneration and making salary packaging appear more substantive and attractive, they help attract high-quality employees and give employees a vested interest in the company’s success.

The advantages of ESS could be amplified in the life science sector, where the pre-revenue phase is typically extended by the need to clear regulatory hurdles before revenue can be earned, which can exceed a decade.

However, the current rules are overly complex and inconsistent, and Australia has the opportunity to deliver on this by taking biotechnology’s unique characteristics into consideration and turning Australia’s good incentive into a great incentive.

AusBiotech is testing and refining the policy position presented in its whitepaper. It invites members across the life sciences sector to respond to the discussion questions posed within the whitepaper by 30 September 2023.

Members are invited to download the draft whitepaper here. To provide feedback or to receive a Word version of this white paper, email Karen Parr, AusBiotech Director of Communications and Policy. 

Once finalised, AusBiotech will ‘walk the halls’ to speak with the Federal Government on how to support Australian innovators in attracting and retaining great talent.