Federal 2023-24 Budget wrap up for biotech


Following the 2023 Federal Budget announcements, AusBiotech has welcomed support for SMEs and start-ups through a new ’Industry Growth Programme’ and potential procurement measures but lamented the noticeable absence of Australia’s One Stop Shop for clinical trials, a sustainable funding model for the TGA, and the end of the EMDG program.

Multiple portfolios impact the sector, which is reflected in Tuesday’s announcements.

Announcements in the 2023 Federal Budget have encouraged and disappointed the biotech sector, with new programmes introduced, timely updates on priority areas, and inaction on critical industry initiatives.

For the biotech industry, the key Federal Budget takeaways include the reiteration of the commitment to the National Reconstruction Fund (NRF), and its complementary addition of a new and welcome SME support programme, the 'Industry Growth Program', to replace and expand on the Entrepreneur's Programme; further information on the 'Buy Australia' procurement programme; and a number of other announcements, both encouraging and disappointing.

AusBiotech welcomes the announcement to establish the ‘Industry Growth Programme’, after the last budget signalled the end of the Entrepreneur’s Programme when 75 per cent of funding was slashed.

The Industry Growth Program has been established to align with the Federal Government's National Reconstruction Fund (NRF) priorities. It aims to support Australian SMEs and startups to commercialise their ideas and grow their operations SMEs and startups.

The Budget also included several encouraging updates, such as the announcement of $18.1 million over four years for the procurement program ‘Buy Australia’, to provide greater access to procurement which would offer the biotech sector much-needed demand security for those in the process of technology development.

It is promising to see a commitment to critical and emerging industries, including $116 million over five years to support artificial intelligence and quantum growth and $3.2 million for the preparatory work for implementing new legislation and modernising the National Gene Technology Scheme.

While there were several positive signals, the Budget also included some notable disappointments. After years of advocating for a patent box scheme, the industry will be disappointed to hear the Federal Government has indicated the regime will no longer proceed.

The Budget failed to mention funding for Australia’s One Stop Shop for clinical trials, a proposal to improve coordination and harmonisation across jurisdictions and offer a single point of access for clinical trials, despite years of development and two years of consultation. Many people in the industry will also be discouraged to note that $61 million has been slashed from the Export Market Development Grants as part of the Government’s 'efficiency gains'.

Finally, the Federal Budget did not address the need for a sustainable funding model for our world-class regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

This is despite AusBiotech’s efforts in uniting the life science industry to communicate the need to appropriately fund the TGA and its very worthy public health initiatives. With other Government departments being offered this support in this Budget, AusBiotech hopes this will be reflected for the TGA in future Budgets. Whilst the Budget included measures to fund vaping-related projects, this will not support the breadth of public good activities the TGA undertakes.

As the national voice of the biotechnology sector for more than 37 years, AusBiotech has been committed to communicating the industry’s concerns, reducing barriers and amplifying opportunities. It is pleased to deliver a wrap-up of announcements for life sciences.