As the Senate Inquiry considering the Research and Development Tax Incentive (RDTI) Bill takes its final evidence and deliberates ahead of it August reporting date, AusBiotech stands steadfastly united with industry in its call for the Bill to be scrapped.
With a lack of consultation and abjectly poor timing adding long of list reasons the Bill ought to be rejected, the Government is urged to consider the damage that will be done to the very industry that has mobilised to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19.
CEO Lorraine Chiroiu said: “Without access to Australia’s RDTI program, life science companies at the forefront of the global response to COVID-19 wouldn’t be here today.”
“The Australian life science sector has mobilised in the fight against COVID-19, which is testament to the value of the RDTI and that it is doing what it should.
“The industry should be recognised for its unique economic and social contributions, particularly in response to the current pandemic, and the changes abandoned,” she said.
AusBiotech, like every organisation that has given evidence at the Senate Inquiry, is concerned about the critical impact the proposed changes will have.
Government support through the RDTI for this sector can provide critical defence against some of the health impacts arising from this and future pandemics. Decade-long investment into the industry has prepared these companies to act swiftly in response to the pandemic, pivoting to fast track COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, diagnostics and digital health solutions.
Without access to the RDTI, the development of Vaxxas’ world-leading and disruptive method of delivering vaccines would have been insurmountable. The local medtech company couldn’t have garnered the global attention, investment and partnership support it needs to progress the technology.
Vaxxas was established in 2011 with $15 million in venture capital funding – one of Australia’s largest series A investments in a start-up. The venture capital-funded medtech start-up company is developing technology that originated from The University of Queensland, the Australian university where some of the groundbreaking immunological work on human papilloma vaccines was also performed. Investors have come on board knowing the RDTI rebate is available.
Mr David Hoey, CEO of Vaxxas said: “The RDTI has helped attract significant investment in our company and open up more chances for collaboration with large pharma companies, universities and philanthropic organisations around the world. We would not be here to address COVID-19 if it weren’t for the RDTI.”
“The RDTI has enabled us to remain competitive and keep our technology development in Australia. We are poised to double in size over the next 12 months, and reinvest in jobs and local manufacturing.”
“This is an opportunity for Australia to become a leader in innovative vaccination and build a local multibillion-dollar business, serving global markets and leveraging our local biomedical innovation, and local investment support," he said.
The company has received two grants from the Gates Foundation, totalling $12 million. The most recent grant will fund rubella and measle vaccination trials in Australia, in an effort to address these preventable diseases that claim 140,000 lives per year in developing countries. The company is also working with the World Health Organisation on something similar for polio.
Given the global nature of the life sciences industry, Australia potentially has a competitive advantage in accelerating quickly out of the pandemic circumstance.
This is consistent with the broader life science industry experience: the stability of Australia’s RDTI is continually identified as the most important tool for increasing business expenditure on R&D (BERD) in life sciences. It has been game-changing for this sector and certainty about its future will be key to the ongoing delivery of jobs and growth.