No shortage of 'dance partners' for industry

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The life sciences sector should embrace and "run with" the attention of government as a way to influence and shape policy outcomes, according to Paul Perreault, CEO and Managing Director of CSL.

Mr Perreault was speaking on the opening day of AusBiotech 2016. He delivered a wide-ranging address that touched on the evolution of CSL and its investment in Australia, the future of medical innovation and life sciences, as well as the importance of government policy to supporting the sector’s growth.

"There could be a real golden age in Australian medical research if we can get the Medical Research Future Fund, the BioMedical Translation Fund and some of the other initiatives in the National Science and Innovation Agenda off the ground," he said.

Yet according to Mr Perreault global competition for investment from multinational corporations is intense with the sector not lacking potential "dance partners".

He said, while relying on government is not a "silver bullet" to ensuring a sustainable strategy for business success, policy-makers do need to understand the impact of constantly changing regulation or globally uncompetitive macro-economic regimes.

In such a competitive global environment Australian business needs certainty, he said.

"Juggling various regimes – and political thought bubbles - is part and parcel of operating as a multinational – but that perspective should be really central to the thinking of government too."

He continued, "The R&D tax incentive is a good example of that. While it is not a key driver of our decision making around individual projects, it is important to the medical research and biotech industry ecosystem and an important aspect of CSL’s longer term planning around where to locate and build our R&D infrastructure.

"Government should absolutely be looking to maximise spillovers and additionality but they do need to be careful about unintended consequences – particularly on the small start-ups and medium businesses that are critical to the Australian biotech ecosystem."

The Turnbull government is currently considering the report from a review of the R&D Tax Incentive. The report, which follows recent changes to the popular program, has recommended further reforms, including a $2 million annual cap on cash claims.