An Australian Biotechnology 2030 Vision (the Vision) – a decadal framework for the industry – was discussed by Minister Hunt, and supported by Minister Andrews, at the AusBiotech CEO Policy Forum in Canberra last week. Minister Hunt demonstrated his commitment to life sciences, asking AusBiotech to co-lead the development of a long-term, shared vision for biotechnology in Australia.
The Vision will address research and development, investment, talent, and regulatory opportunities. AusBiotech values the commitment to the sector shown by the Ministers, and welcomes collaboratively working with their Departments on the policy initiatives that will be developed through the Vision’s framework.
The AusBiotech CEO Policy Forum brought 25 life science CEOs/Country Heads of multinationals together to continue working with government. Key Ministers and senior departmental staff joined the Forum to discuss opportunities and barriers within the life sciences sector to achieve the best growth for Australia when delivering improved health and economic outcomes for all Australians.
Lorraine Chiroiu, AusBiotech CEO, says, “We are pleased that the importance of the life sciences sector is recognised by Government and look forward to continuing to work with them. Committing to growing the industry is a powerful long-term approach to healthcare, and will ensure that the pipeline of innovative technologies being developed and manufactured in Australia continues to bring crucial life-enhancing and enriching benefits directly to patients.”
In addition to the Australian Biotechnology 2030 Vision, Minister Hunt highlighted his commitment to the sector through:
- supporting a national clinical trials ‘front door’;
- streamlining red tape while retaining patient safety; and
- developing initiatives to further improve patient recruitment times.
Keeping IP and its resulting value in Australia was highlighted by Minister Andrews, who committed her Department to undertaking further thinking on possible initiatives addressing this.
An initial policy position with practical, thought-out initiatives on how industry and government can together increase business expenditure on R&D (BERD) was presented to Ministers Hunt and Andrews, and to representatives from across relevant governmental departments.
The policy position outlined six overarching key principles to help guide policy decision-making and achieve an environment conducive to increasing BERD; the first being that significant policy decisions should be evidence-based, transparent and consider industry input as policy necessarily evolves to adapt to changes in the business and economic environment.
The other five principles were: funding programmes are readily identifiable and navigated, and are available at the right age and stage of the company life cycle; Australia can compete internationally; regulatory requirements and other processes are streamlined and optimised; new technologies can easily progress from research to commercialisation; and access to appropriate human capital. Each principle is supported with practical actions on how to achieve an increase in BERD, and will inform the Vision.
Facilitating an environment that encourages businesses to invest in additional R&D and supports the retention and growth of Australian innovation will ultimately help industry to discover and develop new life-enhancing technologies and improve existing ones.
Australia’s annual BERD has declined by more than $2 billion (12%) per annum between 2014 and 2016 (the latest period for which data is available). It is now at levels not seen since the global financial crisis.
BERD is critical to health and medical research, and all Australians – from bench, to business, to bedside – will benefit when this declining trajectory is reversed. Supporting BERD supports the country’s overall GDP.
The AusBiotech CEO Policy Forum was a key event to interact with policy makers. The policy position discussed is being finalised and is intended to assist during the development of the Australian Biotechnology 2030 Vision. AusBiotech continues to work together with the wider ecosystem to ensure that the life sciences industry has the right environment to realise its economic and social potential.