AusBiotech’s 2019 highlights reel


This year has seen another strong performance in biotech: AusBiotech advanced a resolute advocacy programme, saw a Federal election, engaged members and parliamentarians at a CEO Policy Forum where an Australian Biotechnology 2030 Plan was announced, and launched new quarterly policy updates.

Australian biotech was actively promoted across the globe in target markets: JPMorgan (US), Asian Investment Series (Hong Kong/Shanghai), BioKorea, and BIO (US); as well as across Australia with major conferences (AusMedtech 2019, AusBiotech 2019, and Australia Biotech Invest and Partnering 2019), and state events such as Women in Life Sciences Luncheons (NSW & QLD); and BioCheers. More biotech companies moved into the ASX200, demonstrating the healthy biotech pipeline in Australia.

As 2019 comes to a close, AusBiotech reflects on the successes and challenges we have overcome together: working with and for members and the industry, advocacy, membership services, and events that are run by industry, for industry.

By the numbers

  • Record attendance at AusBiotech 2019 and BIO 2019
  • More than 8,000 attendees across 65 AusBiotech events
  • Almost 13,000 in AusBiotech’s social media communities
  • 19 submissions were made on behalf of members
  • Following five roundtables and a survey, one CEO Biotechnology Industry Position Survey 2019 report launched
  • More than 3,000 AusBiotech members
  • One Australian Biotechnology 2030 Plan announced at AusBiotech’s CEO Policy Forum
  • One Federal election
  • More than 20 companies presented to more than 400 potential Asian investors and partners at the Asian Investment Series
  • Two roundtables on key medtech proposals
  • One Senate Inquiry R&D Tax Incentive (RDTI) recommendation, and one new RDTI Bill tabled without notice
  • 19 committees, with more than 140 experts from almost 100 companies
  • Four new policy update emails launched for members
  • Four international missions, with over 350 Australians uniting for the AusBiotech-led BIO delegation
  • Four new Industry Excellence Award winners

Save the dates for 2020 events

AusBiotech is currently planning a calendar of 2020 events. Save the dates below, and keep an eye on the AusBiotech website as the year progresses:

  • First BioCheers of 2020: VIC: 18 Feb; QLD: 19 Feb; NSW: 20 Feb, in partnership with CSIRO and to be launched in the new year. WA: 12 Feb & SA: 13 Feb, also to be launched in the new year.
  • NSW Women in Life Sciences Luncheon, 6 March, Sydney
  • AusMedtech 2020, 20-21 May, Melbourne
  • BIO International Convention 2020, 8 – 11 June, San Diego
  • Australia Biotech Invest & Partnering, 29 October, Melbourne
  • AusBiotech 2020, 28 – 30 October, Melbourne

Championing advocacy

RDTI update

The RDTI is a crucial mechanism for the Australian life sciences sector, and so the success in retaining it is vital to realising our nationally-significant economic and social potential. AusBiotech will continue to partner with members and industry bodies to strongly advocate on behalf of the sector.

  • We were proud to start this year with a momentous sector win: after two and a half years of key AusBiotech advocacy work alongside our members, the Senate Inquiry deliberating over the changes to the RDTI released its report. The Committee recommended that the Senate defer consideration of the Bill until further examination and analysis of its impact has been undertaken.
  • Before the May Federal election, AusBiotech led the development of a statement signed by six other key industry and research groups, urging all political parties to adopt a common approach to R&D, and to take action to support health and medical research by supporting the conditions that allow industry to do its part. The signatories represented the medical technologies, biotechnologies and pharmaceuticals industry sector and the health and medical research sector.
  • Following the Election, AusBiotech made contact with each member of the Federal Parliament individually to engage on the threat to the RDTI, emphasising the importance of the policy and our sector.
  • Despite the Senate Inquiry’s recommendation, newly proposed cuts to the RDTI Bill were tabled without notice on the last sitting day of 2019, astonishing the biotech industry. The vast majority of SMEs and companies in life sciences will be disadvantaged in their claims if the proposed changes go ahead.
  • In response, AusBiotech released a new report illustrating for the first time the disproportionately-negative effects that the biotech sector faces above other innovative industries, by the proposed changes in the new Bill. The new report R&D Tax Incentive: Additionality and spillovers for the life sciences industry was commissioned to examine, analyse and understand the additional benefits that the RDTI brings to Australian life sciences. This research is fundamental to informing decision making.

Australian Biotechnology 2030 Plan emerged from AusBiotech’s CEO Policy Forum

The Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health, and the Hon. Karen Andrews MP, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology announced an Australian Biotechnology 2030 Plan (the Plan) at AusBiotech’s CEO Policy Forum, that was held in Parliament House, Canberra in September.

The Plan will articulate a shared vision and agreed actions to continue to grow and strengthen Australia’s biotechnology sector through to 2030, and will be developed jointly by both departments and co-led by AusBiotech, operating in an advisory role. Keep an eye on your emails for opportunities to engage on the Plan during 2020.

AusBiotech works to ensure that the Government continues to engage with industry across the life sciences sector, and for industry leaders to understand the government’s goals and vision for the sector, their expectations of industry, and the support and industry input they require on approaches to key policy issues. AusBiotech will continue to develop and maximise opportunities to seek and share your views, knowledge and experience.

Facilitating global development

Facilitating international opportunities for investment discussions, collaborations and partnerships is crucial for the growth of Australian life sciences sector and ultimately for continuing Australia’s position in the life sciences sector globally.

  • BIO: With all major states represented on the Australian Pavilion, and over 350 Australians standing united, this year’s annual Team Australia delegation to the largest biotech event in the world was the most impressive seen to date. The increased participation from the across the country demonstrates the value and significance of life sciences to the Australian economy.
  • 2019 began with a bang as we officially partnered with Biotech Showcase in San Francisco alongside the enormous JP Morgan Healthcare Conference, where we presented the strengths of Australian life sciences to the world. Attendance at AusBiotech’s Australia session was at standing-room-only: validates its belief that Australia is highly-attractive in the life sciences arena, and that it rightly owns its place amongst global leaders.
  • A delegation of Australian life sciences companies were taken to two major investment hubs: Shanghai and Hong Kong, for AusBiotech’s Asian Investment Series. More than 20 Australian companies connected with international capital markets and presented their business case to more than 400 potential Asian investors and partners.
  • AusBiotech joined Austrade and MTPConnect at BioKorea 2019. Regenerative medicine and clinical trial opportunities were highlighted; AusBiotech was also pleased to once again host a large delegation from the Korea Health Industry Development Institute at AusBiotech 2019, demonstrating the strong interest Korean companies have in collaborating with Australia’s biotech industry.

Focusing on growth

AusBiotech events are delivered for industry, by industry. They foster growth and partnerships, and help us provide advocacy work ensuring our sector’s voice is heard and supported as new technologies are developed.

AusMedtech 2019: Over 600 heavy hitters of medtech were involved in delivering a vibrant and successful week of activities recently to build the Australian industry. Centred around AusMedtech 2019, Australia’s premier medtech conference, an engaging line-up of keynote speakers and knowledgeable panellists (that delivered a notable 50/50 gender split) addressed over 350 delegates; they heard industry expertise, insight and commentary on a range of topics both practical and inspirational.

AusBiotech 2019 and Australia Biotech Invest & Partnering 2019: Life science leaders and investors assembled in Melbourne for biotech’s biggest week of 2019. The two premier events brought over 1,500 industry leaders, investors, researchers and regulatory representatives together from 25 countries to hear over 100 speakers at the largest biotech gatherings in the Australian life science industry.

The two conferences lift the profile of the Australian biotechnology industry, share new and ground-breaking knowledge, connect companies, and create access to greater funding sources for companies to develop world-class science into therapies, diagnostics and medical devices.

See the photos from the two events here.

Industry Excellence Awards: The prestigious annual AusBiotech and Johnson & Johnson Innovation Industry Excellence Awards were presented to stars of Australia’s world-class biotechnology, medical technology and healthcare sectors, and for the first time, the AusBiotech Life Sciences Legacy Award was presented in recognition of tremendous and unprecedented support of the Australian life sciences ecosystem across many decades. Congratulations to 2019’s AusBiotech Life Sciences Legacy Award winner: Mr Chuck Feeney; and to AusBiotech and Johnson & Johnson Innovation Industry Excellence Award winners: Sue MacLeman,  Chair of MTP Connect, Anatara Lifesciences Ltd and Novita Healthcare Ltd, winner of the Industry Leadership Award, PolyNovo, winner of the Company of the Year award, and to OncoRes Medical, winner of the Emerging Company of the Year.

Women in Life Sciences Luncheons: connecting the community to drive action and empower delegates to make a difference, this year included an hour-long discussion: An hour to empower. For the first time, AusBiotech and Medicines Australia partnered together to bring over 320 delegates together at the NSW Women in Life Sciences Luncheon, held on International Women's Day: 8 March. Two hundred more delegates joined AusBiotech at its second Luncheon in Brisbane in September.

BioCheers: Working to increase opportunities for the sector to network and celebrate, and enabling access to talent, expertise, education and partnerships, AusBiotech was pleased to hold regular opportunities across Australia. 2019 began with a significant BioCheers partnership with CSIRO in NSW, QLD, and VIC, which welcomed more than 400 members and non-members.

Strengthening relevance

The Sector Snapshot 2019 was launched at the AusBiotech 2019 conference, providing a comprehensive overview of the life sciences sector within Australia. Revealing momentous growth over the past two years, it quantifies company and employment numbers, sectors, states and gender distribution, demonstrating the social and economic impact our sector delivers to Australia.

Updated figures demonstrating the strength of the Australian regenerative medicine (RM) sector were also released at AusBiotech 2019. Over the past two years, the number of cellular therapy or RM companies in Australia has doubled. The number of research institutions involved in RM has increased from more than 30, to more than 45.

Inaugural Future Fora were launched at AusMedtech 2019 and AusBiotech 2019. These 90-minute session focused on the future of life sciences: panellists spoke about the future of a variety of emerging trends, new technologies, and their impacts, followed by an interactive discussion with the audience. AusBiotech is excited to continue these in 2020.

Board and team

AusBiotech welcomed their new Board Director, Dr Serge Scrofani, Vice President, Strategy & Corporate Development, CSL. It also welcomed Dr Peter French to the team: based in Sydney, he leads AusBiotech NSW, and ensures that the NSW life sciences industry is structurally supported to capitalise on new technologies and growth opportunities.

Office closure

The AusBiotech office will be closed over the holiday period from 5.00 pm, Tuesday 24 December 2019 until 9.00 am, Thursday 2 January 2020. BiotechDispatch will resume on Tuesday 14 January 2020. We wish AusBiotech members a happy and safe festive period. We thank you for your support and look forward to working with you again in the new year.

AusBiotech sincerely thanks the Board, committees, members and broader industry for all that has been achieved in 2019. The team wishes you a safe and happy summer break, and look forward to seeing you at its JPMorgan networking function in San Francisco, or at BioCheers, in early 2020.