New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland work together to promote Aussie biotechnology to the world

Melbourne 13 June 2003The Premiers of New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria have signed a historic agreement, joining forces to promote Australia's $12 billion biotechnology and pharmaceuticals industries to the world. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed in Melbourne by the Premier of New South Wales, Mr. Bob Carr; Queensland Premier, Peter Beattie; and Victorian Premier, Steve Bracks, to create the AustralianBiotechAlliance.

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The new alliance aims to ensure the three states work together to build on Australia's global leading biotech industry which is already the sixth-largest in the world in terms of the number of individual firms, now approaching 300. Premiers Bracks and Beattie are promoting the new alliance when they visit Bio2003 in Washington.

Biotechnology plays a major part in developments ranging from cochlear implants to diagnosing cancer to new forms of DNA matching. It involves developing new products using living organisms and biological processes. It is used widely in the health, agriculture, aquaculture, forestry, mining, manufacturing, environment, food processing and marine biology industries.

The combined Australian biotechnology and pharmaceuticals industry employs around 30.000 people, turns over around $12 billion, and spends $450 million a year on research and development. The agreement would see the three states work together to promote the BioTech industry by:

  • Helping develop joint efforts including cancer research and biosecurity technologies to help the environment with other projects to follow;
  • Supporting the exchange of talent and encouraging collaborative research;
  • Building on Australia's competitive advantages including the skilled workforce, world-class research capabilities, stable business environment, and its proximity to the Asia-Pacific markets;
  • Ensuring the states' co-ordinated delegations to trade missions such as Bio2003, the world's largest biotech trade show, to be held in Washington DC, and
  • Working closely together with Commonwealth agencies in all off-shore promotional activities.

Premier Bracks stated that by combining the states' strengths the new alliance would strengthen competitive advantage in the international biotech industry. "Australia has a proud history of innovation in science and technology and I'm sure this initiative will see it continue", according to Mr. Bracks.

Premier Carr noted that Australia's eastern seaboard is also home to more than 300 biotech companies, about 80 percent of all companies in Australia. "It's vital that we all work together to ensure these companies are able to expand into world markets and create jobs."

Premier Beattie stated that the creation of the AustralianBiotechAlliance heralded the beginning of a new era of maturity and strength for Australia's biotechnology industry. "I believe the combined strengths of Australia's biotech states will make a dynamic contribution to the biotechnology industry globally."

All Premiers assured they would welcome additional member states and territories as well as interest from relevant industry, research and government organisations. Key biotech officials from each state will now meet to develop a list of potential projects on which the Alliance members can collaborate.

There are now almost 300 core biotech companies in Australia. Most of these in the Alliance states of New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. This is a 25 percent increase since 1999/2000, according to the figures of Hooper & Thorburn. The biotechnology industry is still growing well with thirty new Australian companies established in 2001/2002.

Australia is ranked sixth in the world for the number of biotech companies behind USA, Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom and France. The Alliance states account for more than 80 percent of all companies in the industry demographically and 71 percent of companies by market capitalisation.

The Australian Biotechnology Report 2001, edited by ISR, Ernst and Young and Freehills, estimates that the core biotechnology companies in the industry earned revenue of almost $1 billion in 2001. Most of this was generated in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. Revenues of Australian listed biotech companies are growing at around 23 percent per year, according to Frost & Sullivan.


Leslie Versweyveld

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