Australian bioscience research is widely recognised as world leading, yet our ability to commercialise discoveries and market them into global supply chains is poor.
Recent successes including the Australian vaccine Gardasil are proof positive of the quality and potential of local research, yet a question still remains as to how to successfully commercialise cutting-edge science and make it into an internationally competitive new industry for Australia’s future prosperity.
Like so many Australian bioscience discoveries, Gardasil was no accident. Ian Frazer’s cervical cancer breakthrough was built on a long heritage of pioneering work that includes Howard Florey’s penicillin development and Don Metcalf’s work on therapeutic proteins.
Join The Mandarin for a special public sector executive seminar as we explore this important initiative at 5.30 pm next Thursday 15 June at the Australian Leadership Innovation Centre in Barton, Canberra. Click here for a seminar overview. To attend please RSVP here.
Investment in science can be a long play, but there are important policy steps now being taken to accelerate momentum in Australia.
The federal government has targeted the medical technology and pharmaceuticals as a key economic and industrial growth sector and developed a major program of industry, academic and government collaboration. One of the most import developments has been a commitment for industry and government to work together through collaborative hub MTP Connect.
International models suggest Australia could quadruple its bioscience research if the policy settings are optimised. The opportunity is large, with industry estimates of 28,000 new high value jobs and $18 billion of gross value add over the next eight years if Australia can reach its potential in the biotechnology sector.
This national opportunity is underpinned by industry estimates that the global market for medicines and vaccines is set to double over the next decade, with much of the growth coming from Asia.
The pharma sector is a truly global market. Building a sharp local understanding of the needs of this market is critical to greater commercialisation and investment. At the same time, a major strengthening of collaboration between universities and industry is expected to increase the translation of research into market ready products.
It’s also important to recognise government and the public sector will always have a seat at the pharma table. The National Health and Medical Research Council funds much public research and its role is critical to any improvement in translational research outcomes. Recent major changes into its grant program are designed to promote innovation and to encourage early to mid career researchers.
Ensuring Australia attracts clinical trials is vital to successful local development and the focus of the government-backed growth program this year. Clinical trials support thousands of high-value jobs, but over recent times the number of clinical trials has plateaued. For Australia’s nation potential in the pharma sector to be realised, Australia’s processes and procedures need to balance patient welfare and innovation, a challenge in a world where citizens are impatient about accessing new technologies and remedies.
Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme provides affordable and accessible drugs for our citizens and the design of the scheme plays a powerful role in the economic drivers of the bioscience sector. Ensuring alignment between initiatives promoting research growth and broader national health policy objectives is an important challenge. The recent landmark agreement between Medicines Australia and the federal government promises operational certainty while providing funding for new listings from price reductions for mature end-of-patent life medicines.
There are now over 50 listed medical biotechnology companies listed on the ASX and the recent launch of the $500 million Biomedical Translation Fund (BTF) provides a once-in-a-generation initiative to make Australia a global leader in the commercialisation of biomedical discoveries.
The BTF is part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda and is a for-profit venture capital fund which pools public and private capital ($250 million of Commonwealth funding to be matched with private sector capital) for investments in companies with medical research projects.
The push to have Australia be a major contributor to the surging global pharma sector is a sophisticated example of joint industry, government and academic collaboration.
- Join The Mandarin for a special public sector executive seminar as we explore this important initiative. The seminar is scheduled for 5.30 pm next Thursday 15 June at the Australian Leadership Innovation Centre in Barton, Canberra. More details can be found here. To attend please register here. The briefing is part of our executive learning program for public sector leaders, where we seek to provide a forum for intelligent, collegiate discussion of issues of interest to government agency leaders.