AusBiotech urges Review to protect R&D Tax Incentive’s integrity


AusBiotech’s submission to the Review of the R&D Tax Incentive calls for preservation of the programme, as it is providing additional R&D in Australia and spillover benefits, and an end to constant tweaks and reviews that are causing instability and uncertainty.

The Review was announced with the National Innovation and Science Agenda, announced in December 2015 by the Federal Government. The Review is being conducted by Mr Bill Ferris AC, Chair, Innovation & Science Australia, Dr Alan Finkel AO FTSE, Chief Scientist of Australia and Mr John Fraser, Secretary to the Treasury.

The AusBiotech submission makes the case for this tax incentive to remain intact to support Australia’s innovation ecosystem in order for innovative industries, including biotechnology, to underpin the economy and to increasingly provide jobs, exports, intellectual property assets and the resulting health and community benefits. It also provided comments from AusBiotech members about additional R&D that is being retained in and attracted to Australia and seek clarification on the programme’s reported costs, which appear to be overstated.

As the Australian representative body of one of the world’s most innovative and globally-mobile industries, AusBiotech is acutely aware of the difference that can be made to innovation stimulation with the right policy settings and conversely the damage to the growth of an industry from poor public policy and constantly changing provisions of programmes.

The R&D tax refund is critical to the growth of innovation in Australia, and the introduction of the R&D Tax Incentive has been hailed as a game-changer for Australian innovation, especially biotechnology. Intact preservation of the incentive is top-of-mind in R&D-intensive industries.

The R&D Tax Incentive has been a highly-successful programme for Australia and for its biotechnology community, particularly at SME stage. It is helping to build the industry and attract international and local clinical trials for the benefit of Australians and the domestic healthcare system as well as generating clear economic activity in science-based jobs.

The R&D Tax Incentive has helped us ‘turn the corner’ in industry development terms. With the addition of the recently announced Biomedical Translational Fund and the investor incentive on the horizon, now is the time for stability and looking to further enabling initiatives to ensure the “innovation freeway” is fully open – not the time to limit this major and successful programme facilitating innovation.

AusBiotech congratulated the Government on its National Innovation and Sciences Agenda, in particular the Biomedical Translational Fund and the investor incentive that offers a tax offset and capital gains tax breaks to encourage investment in early stage companies. The package is a movement in the right direction and it was welcomed by AusBiotech as a game-changing package that will transform Australia’s ability to commercialise and benefit from our world-class R&D.

In closing the submission, AusBiotech urges the Government to analyse carefully any move to limit or reduce the R&D Tax Incentive programme, especially where it is making great gains, lest tinkering emasculates the programme and undoes hard-won momentum in innovation in Australia.