MTPConnect releases draft competitiveness plan


The Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals Growth Centre (MTPConnect ) has released its draft 10-Year Sector Competitiveness Plan, highlighting the importance of a stable operating environment.

According to MTPConnect, the plan outlines a 10-year vision to maximise the sector’s competitiveness and productivity, and to achieve more rapid and sustained growth.

MTPConnect is part of the $248 million Federal Government Industry Growth Centres Initiative. The objective of the initiative is for the industry-led growth centres to help unlock commercial opportunities and drive innovation by building links between businesses and industry organisations and the science and research sector.

The plan has identified seven ‘Sector Growth Priorities’:

  • identify and promote Knowledge Priorities focused on current and future market needs;
  • create a highly productive commercialisation environment from research to early clinical trials and proof-of-concept;
  • transform the SME sub-sector to support the growth of smaller companies into larger, more stable and successful companies;
  • support the development of digitally enabled MTP solutions - devices and data analytics;
  • strengthen Australia as an attractive clinical trial research destination;
  • position Australia as the preferred partner for emerging Asian markets; and,
  • support advanced manufacturing as a part of the broader Australian innovation ecosystem.

Sue MacLeman, CEO and managing director of MTPConnect, said, “Growth of the Australian economy in the 21st Century will depend on our ability to develop high-skill, value-adding industries that can compete in the global marketplace. While we’ve had some great success stories of companies making it onto the global stage, we still have a lot of work to do, particularly in later stage product development and commercialisation. We need to build on our achievements and collaborate further to translate our good ideas into marketable products.

“By addressing the key issue of information exchange, along with well-known barriers – including policy and regulatory impediments – MTPConnect will help to create a more productive commercialisation environment, solve some of Australia’s own healthcare issues, and transform a lot of small companies into more mature companies that are stable and successful.”

Enhancing Australia's commercialisation performance is a key focus of the plan, reflecting a weakness recognised in successive reviews and government reports.

"The country’s position in the Global Innovation Index 2015 reflects this: Australia ranked 10th in innovation input but 24th in innovation output, (a decrease from 22nd in 2014)," says MTPConnect.

The draft plan highlights the importance of collaborations with multinational companies, arguing the success of local innovation does not mean "commercialised products remain entirely in the hands of Australian-owned companies."

"In some cases, an appropriate commercialisation pathway will be out-licensing or divestment to a larger, global company that can provide the resources and capabilities to maximise an innovation’s value. Acquisitions such as that of Spinifex by Novartis, or licensing deals such as those of Hatchtech and Acrux, provide examples of successful pathways in the MTP sector and assist to return funds to Australia for further investment. But it is critical that Australia generates more products that reach clinical development and proof-of-concept, commanding stronger commercial terms from global partners. By doing this, a sustainable sector will be assured with jobs and capabilities developed for future national prosperity."

However, the plan clearly identifies a relationship between the ability of companies to invest in commercialisation and policy stability, including in relation to regulation, reimbursement and intellectual property.

"Stability of government incentives, IP laws and reimbursement policy is required to encourage investment," it says. "Past reviews have highlighted the need for government and industry to commit to ongoing stability of R&D tax incentives, clinical trial regulation (CTN/CTX), and reimbursement, IP, and grant scheme policies. A strong intellectual property regime is particularly important in this priority, and failure to secure this poses the risks that Australian innovators will choose to commercialise their IP elsewhere and Australians will have access to fewer innovative products."

It continued, "Sector consultations have identified areas where greater policy stability and predictability are essential to the long-term health of the sector, including intellectual property protections, reimbursement policies (of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) and Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC)), and tax and other funding-related policy (specifically the R&D tax incentive)."

In terms of action it will take, MTPConnect says it will "encourage government to take a long-term view of regulation and policy impacting upon the industry, particularly in relation to IP laws and tax and reimbursement policies....Support greater efforts to harmonise TGA processes with international regulators and recognise international decisions."