Updated on 18 April 2013
It's often said in industry circles that the Australian Government is good at supporting research end of the R&D spectrum, but the development end is continually left wanting. Different types of government support are needed, from direct industry assistance to business environment changes like taxation and reduced compliance costs. It takes a minimum of 6.3 years for evidence to reach peer-reviewed publication, followed by an average of 9.3 years to implement the evidence clinical practice. It takes an average of 12 years and $1 billion dollars to bring a medicine from discovery to regulatory approval. This is an area that requires long-term and patient investment, well beyond the scope of an electoral cycle.
What are the major focus areas of the country? Is it manufacturing, drug discovery, research or services?
Australia is showing strong comparative advantages and capabilities in manufacturing and medical discovery and exports. The majority of companies responding to the AusBiotech CEO Industry Position survey 2012 (62.0 percent) are manufacturing. 46.0 percent of the overall respondents are manufacturing in Australia and 34.0 percent are manufacturing overseas. There is a crossover of 18.0 percent of companies manufacturing both overseas and in Australia. Australia has a competitive and comparative advantage in ‘high tech, high cost, low volume' manufacturing, for example as is used in the production of elaborately transformed goods such as medical devices and bio- pharmaceuticals.
Australia's competitive edge is also shining through as pharmaceutical manufacturing exports are on the rise. Pharmaceuticals have officially taken over as Australia's number one export, with $4.1 billion in 2011-12. This is substantially more than the car industry at $2.8 billion and more than double the wine industry at $2 billion, for the same period. Australia is home to numerous world-class medical research organizations, including the Garvan Institute, Institute for Molecular BioScience, Menzies Research Institute, John Curtin School of Medical Research, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI), Australian Institute of Bioengineering and nanotechnology, Brain Institute, Diamentina Institute, The Lowy Research Centre, Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, Baker Medical Research Institute, The Burnett Centre and South Australian Research & Development Institute.
What is the plan of action of the association for the next two years?
The plan for the next two years will see AusBiotech's active stake in policy and advocacy activities continue, informed by the 2013 CEO Industry Position Survey that is currently underway. The organization is also supporting the industry with a range of projects. Of note is AusBiotech's international investment series and the most recent project is supporting the governance of Boards to increase their attractiveness to investors. AusBiotech Investment offers a comprehensive series of national and international investor events as a global platform for Australian life sciences companies to showcase their company's offering for partnership and investment. Biotechnology and mining are the only Australian industries to actively seek investment in this way and it has proven to be a successful formula.
At AusBiotech 2011, research and consulting firm, Insync Surveys, conducted an independent and confidential review (AusBiotech, 2012) of Australian Summit, which has been held annually since 2009. While it‘s difficult to quantify, investors were asked to estimate the value of deals they expect from investment discussions they initiated at ALSIS 2011, and the actual value of deals that were done. The results show that between $33 and $99 million had been invested in the presenting companies a result of the 2010 and 2009 events. At the conclusion of the 2011 event, $228 million worth of deals were in discussion, suggesting the Summit would generate substantially more investment than previous years.