AusBiotech has urged policy-makers to take a national approach to capability mapping and introduce targeted initiatives in response to the federal government’s discussion paper, Understanding our RNA potential.
As the voice of industry, AusBiotech has responded to the Department of Industry, Science and Resources’ consultation on understanding Australia’s RNA potential as the government seeks to comprehend the challenges and opportunities for developing the nation’s RNA sector.
AusBiotech made four key recommendations in its submission, including:
- Undertake national capabilities mapping to appropriately prepare for Australia’s RNA future and to track its progress;
- Build, diversify and address gaps in access to capital across the industry by introducing a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) programme, modelled on that which has been successful in the USA, thus significantly increasing the flow of capital to the biotech sector;
- RNA technology shows great potential, however, there is an urgent need for agreed regulatory guidance materials and to harmonise globally, where it makes sense; and,
- Consider a targeted tax amendment in its multinational tax regime in order to make Australia globally attractive; these policy levers not only anchors the manufacturing, but fosters further R&D.
In its submission, AusBiotech says taking a national approach to capability mapping will support the collaboration and cooperation between companies, and streamline efforts and investment opportunities. This will enable the RNA industry to thrive and drive benefits to Australia’s economy and health of its people.
“Locally, investment has recently been seen through multinational partnerships being penned with Sanofi and Moderna; the establishment of the NSW RNA Pilot facility; and further industry investment taking place across the country. However, Australia is underprepared to capitalise on the opportunities RNA can deliver as there is currently no clear visibility of the capabilities within the country in order to appropriately and proactively prepare for Australia’s RNA future, and to track its progress.”
AusBiotech recommends that national capability mapping is undertaken, mapping the stakeholders, location, company size (amongst other metrics), technologies and phases, to support collaboration and cooperation between companies, and streamline efforts and investment opportunities.
Additionally, having clarity on the size and shape of the local industry will help business cases be built for why Australia is a destination of choice for multi- and inter-national companies.
To build, diversify and address gaps in access to capital across the industry, and significantly increase the flow of capital to the biotechnology sector by $1 billion annually, AusBiotech recommended that Government and industry work to introduce a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) programme, modelled on that which has been successful in the US.
Through a competitive awards-based programme, SBIR enables small businesses to explore technological potential and provides the incentive to profit from its commercialisation. The US’s SBIR programme provides awards for Phase I, $50,000 - $250,000 for six months and Phase II to continue the R/R&D efforts initiated in Phase I, with $750,000 for two years. Funding is based on the results achieved in Phase I and the scientific and technical merit and commercial potential of the project proposed in Phase II.
As an example of the model in action, the NSW Government established a SBIR programme that provides competitive grants to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to find and commercialise innovative solutions to well-defined problems for the state government’s agencies.
AusBiotech’s submission also emphasised the importance of developing agreed regulatory guidance materials and that harmonises with regulations globally, and creating a globally-competitive environment through a targeted tax amendment.
The Department says submissions will provide insights into Australia’s RNA sector capabilities and priorities for the next ten years.
Read AusBiotech’s submission here.