Partnership wants change in how universities and industry collaborate

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A new report prepared by AusBiotech and the University of Sydney says Australia could be at the global forefront of research translation and commercialisation in health and medicine if barriers to collaboration are overcome.

The University of Sydney’s Faculty of Medicine and Health and Sydney Business School partnered with AusBiotech to investigate the development of what they describe as a 'gold standard' framework to ensure health and medical discoveries are more accessible to industry and can be fast-tracked to commercialisation.

The partnership consulted 100 industry, government and academic stakeholders. It also benchmarked international institutions that successfully co-located with researchers, start-ups and business incubators.

The result is 10 recommendations including the development of strategies to grow opportunities for proof-of-concept funding, as well as career incentives, secondments, training and development opportunities for academics and professional staff involved in commercialisation pathways. They also include the up-skilling industry in academic processes.

The recommendations do not include rapid funding for or reimbursement of locally commercialised health and medical research.

AusBiotech said the recommendations will be incorporated into its ‘Biotechnology Blueprint: A Decadal Strategy for the Australian Biotechnology Industry’.

According to CEO Lorraine Chiroiu, “The Biotechnology Blueprint has clearly articulated that creating strong and effective partnerships between the Australian biotechnology industry and universities will significantly contribute to commercialising high-quality ideas, and to creating a better connected and more vibrant community.

“This industry-academia collaboration framework is an important step towards that, as it identifies opportunities for the entire community - from bench to bedside - and aims to nurture an agile, nimble and interconnected environment that is able to consistently create and grow high-value biotech companies.”

“This helpful report reinforces the need for Australia to take a holistic and eco-system approach to research commercialisation – universities, industry, governments and consumers all have a crucial role to play in working collectively to get our best research out into the world making a positive difference,” said Professor Duncan Ivison, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) at the University of Sydney.

“Our vision is to establish a hub for the health and medical industry that transforms Australia’s research and commercialisation capabilities by developing a gold-standard in which the private sector and universities co-design and co-invest,’ said Professor Robyn Ward AM, executive dean and pro-vice-chancellor of medicine and health at the University of Sydney.

Professor Ward is the chair of the Medical Services Advisory Committee.

“Our universities are already contributing billions of dollars to the national economy and growing the health workforce, further collaboration between our leading researchers and prominent industry players will strengthen this and fast-track medical discoveries that could make a huge difference in people’s lives,” added Dr Ward.