As the pace picks up after the festive break and the realities of our respective New Year’s resolutions settle on us, AusBiotech starts the year with a renewed focus on leadership in policy and a resolution to continue committed advocacy for innovation in life sciences.
While the last year has been full of industry optimism the Turnbull Government’s Innovation Agenda will deliver the policy support needed for growth and contribution to “the next age of economic prosperity in Australia”, the reality has been a spectrum of detractors seeking to block, counter and work against the important opportunity that the Agenda offers.
The proposed $2 million cap on the Research and Development (R&D) Tax Incentive is the most potentially-damaging example; joined by an unfriendly report on IP arrangements from the Productivity Commission, the Senate’s blocking of corporate tax breaks and equity crowd funding bill, and a senate inquiry seeking to ‘reform’ the pricing framework for prostheses in the private health system. Let us not forget the R&D Tax Incentive was given a 1.5% cut, worth an estimated $600 million along the way.
The outcome is a constrained environment and enough uncertainty to be concerning for those, like AusBiotech, interested in international competitiveness of Australia and its ability to be an attractive destination for business – especially the business of biotech.
The term ‘innovation’ means all sorts of things to all sorts of people, but in the life sciences industry, it means the development of biomedical therapies, cures, devices, prostheses and diagnostics that enhance and improve, sometime save, our lives.
Life sciences innovation brings with it a raft of social and economic benefits, such as an estimated $1 billion worth of clinical trials, of which around $650 million is attracted as foreign investment from around the world to the Australian economy annually. Clinical trials provide early access to new treatments, high quality jobs for STEM graduates, direct foreign investment, exports, and advanced manufacturing. Australia’s work to be internationally competitive will attract further foreign investment and a greater share of returns to the economy.
R&D Tax Incentive
One of the most successful programs for the Australian biotechnology community, the R&D Tax Incentive, faces a significant threat that, if enacted, will see the loss of hard-won momentum.
In particular, AusBiotech is strongly advocating against the proposed $2 million cap on the refundable component of the program and has urged that clinical trials be exempt from the cap. The R&D Tax Incentive plays an essential role in maintaining Australia’s competitive advantage and you can assist by joining the postcard petition to the Federal Government, or writing to your local member to explain how the cuts will impact your innovation.
Productivity Commission’s inquiry into Australia's intellectual property arrangements
In the last working week of 2016, the Federal Government released the final report on the Productivity Commission’s (PC) inquiry into Australia's intellectual property arrangements. The Government is reviewing the submissions to the PC and considering its response and has invited stakeholder views on issues raised in the final report until 14 February 2017 (see https://consult.industry.gov.au/ip-pc-inquiry/pc-inquiry-into-ip-arrangements-1/). The report contains many areas of concern and AusBiotech members are invited to contribute comment as an industry submission is developed.
Prostheses List Framework
The Senate has referred ‘Price regulation associated with the Prostheses List Framework’ to the Senate Community Affairs References Committee for inquiry and report. Submissions are invited until 30 January 2017.
There are a range of ways in which AusBiotech members can get involved in the development of responses to these issues. For more information please contact Lorraine Chiroiu, AusBiotech’s Deputy CEO (firstname.lastname@example.org or 0429 801 118).