Strategic Development Plan for Victoria
science technology innovation
Foreword 1 Application of biotechnology across industry 43
Executive Summary 2 Trade and export development 43
Introduction 7 Building international relationships 44
What is biotechnology? 7 Biotechnology alumni 44
Biotechnology through the ages 7 Biotechnology ambassador 44
Why is biotechnology important? 8 Marketing our capabilities 44
Biotechnology and the economy of the future 9 Hosting of international conferences 45
Technological convergence 10 5. Government leadership and support 46
Need for a biotechnology strategic plan 12 Regulatory framework 46
Biotechnology around the world 13 Communication—knowledge for choice 47
Market growth 13 Advisory bodies 48
Biotechnology in Australia and Victoria 16 Implementing the strategic plan 48
Biotechnology: a national strength 16 Appendix A - Strategy development 49
Research strengths and expertise 16 Steering Committee 49
Research, education and industry precincts 18 Agrifood Circle of Leaders 49
Victoria’s industry base 20 Biotechnology Strategy Team 50
Agricultural production and food processing 25 Appendix B - Biotechnology around the world 51
Actions to develop biotechnology in Victoria 27 The United States of America 51
1. Development of the biotechnology skill base 30 Canada 51
2. Developing Victoria’s biotechnology research base 32 The United Kingdom 52
Globally competitive platform technologies 32 Ireland 52
Health and medical research 34 Germany 52
Agricultural production and food processing 35 Japan 53
3. Commercialising Victoria’s biotechnology 36 Republic of Korea 53
Best practice intellectual property management systems 37 Singapore 54
Access to finance 38 New Zealand 54
Technology Commercialisation Program 38 Appendix C - Modern biotechnology applications 55
Encouraging an entrepreneurial culture 40 Index 58
4. Building Victoria’s corporate base and marketing Contact information 61
Victoria’s capabilities 41
Investment attraction and facilitation 41
The world is about to experience another great leap of The biotechnology sector is growing with exponential speed
progress. Biotechnology shows every indication of becoming and complexity. Therefore, the strategic plan must be a living
a global revolution as it transforms our lives, our health and document, one that has the flexibility to address new issues
our environment. Biotechnology offers opportunities to solve as they arise, while remaining consistent with its broad
some of the great conundrums of our age while simultaneously principles and direction.
raising new and unavoidable challenges.
This Strategic Plan on biotechnology forms one component
Victoria will inevitably be caught up in these changes. of the Government’s overall science, technology and innovation
The Government has anticipated the opportunities and agenda. The key features of the agenda, which are also
the issues that biotechnology raises. We are determined reflected in this biotechnology strategy, are:
to respond proactively and to embrace the new technology
• building world class infrastructure;
as a major opportunity for this State.
• developing the skills base;
The Biotechnology Strategic Plan has been developed with
input from the research and industry sectors and the wider • fostering a culture of innovation;
community. The Plan aims to develop Melbourne and Victoria
as one of the top five locations in the world for biotechnology • positioning Victoria as the national and world leader
research and development, commercialisation, production in science.
and marketing. Victoria’s Biotechnology Strategic Plan complements and
This is an ambitious vision but one that is achievable builds on Australia’s National Biotechnology Strategy and
if we give full attention to each of the elements of the the national innovation statement, Backing Australia’s Ability.
strategy and build on Victoria’s existing strengths Victorians have a great capacity to be innovative. By planning
in biotechnology research. our response to the opportunities in biotechnology, by
The Plan embodies the broad principles of the positioning Victoria strategically, by building on our existing
Government’s biotechnology policy. These are: strengths and harnessing the ingenuity and energy of our
scientists and business community, the Government is leading
• to optimise the economic, environmental and the State to maximise the potential for economic growth
social benefits available through biotechnology; and prosperity.
• to protect and promote the health of the I commend the plan to you and welcome your contribution
Victorian community; to its ongoing development and implementation.
• to assure environmental safety and sustainability;
• to require that all actions are undertaken within
an ethical framework;
• to ensure that there is full consultation, communication,
transparency, monitoring and accountability.
STEVE BRACKS MP
The Victorian Government is making a significant investment
in biotechnology. We will invest at least $320 million over Premier
the four years to 2004-05 to deliver key aspects of this
plan. The Government’s role, however, is catalytic and in
order for Victoria’s vision to be realised industry and our
education and research communities will need to invest
JOHN BRUMBY MP
Minister for State and Regional Development
• attract the corporate R&D centres of multinational companies 1. Development of the biotechnology skill base
in biotechnology related sectors and, where possible,
Objective: building a pool of skilled people in science,
related manufacturing plants, to provide centres of focus
product development and commercialisation.
for biotechnology activity, high quality skilled jobs and to
build Victoria’s reputation overseas as a location for Actions
biotechnology related activities;
• Identify required skills through a Biotechnology
• create networks between Victorian biotechnology Skills Taskforce.
based companies as well as international networks
and linkages to grow exports and foster commercially • Provide information on careers in biotechnology.
beneficial partnerships. • Support the Gene Technology Access Centre (GTAC).
This strategic plan provides the framework for the development • Bring research and commercialisation leaders to Victoria.
of successful biotechnology-based industries in Victoria.
It is a plan that has been developed jointly by the education • Federation Fellowships.
and research communities, industry and the Victorian • Increase the number of biotechnology analysts.
Government. All of these parties will play key roles in
its delivery. The education and research communities are 2. Developing Victoria’s biotechnology research base
essential for building and maintaining the excellence in our Objective: providing opportunities for growth in science
skills and research base. They must also actively build and research infrastructure.
bridges to industry. Industry, which includes user industries,
a wide range of services sectors and the biotechnology Actions
sector itself, has a key role in translating our research base Platform technologies
into products, services and wealth. The Government has
an important role in catalysing actions and ensuring that an • Establish a biotechnology platform technology steering
information and regulatory environment is established to group to identify and ensure access to cutting-edge
meet the needs of the whole of the Victorian community. platform technologies by industry.
The Strategic Plan identifies five key areas for action • Support the establishment of the Victorian Microarray
to position Victoria as a leading biotechnology cluster: Technology Consortium.
1. Developing a biotechnology skill base: building a • Support the establishment of the Victorian
pool of skilled people in science, product development Bioinformatics Consortium.
and commercialisation. • Support the establishment of a proteomics facility
2. Developing Victoria’s research base: providing as part of the Bio21 development.
opportunities for growth in science and research • Provide funding support for the National Synchrotron
infrastructure. Feasibility Study and work to secure the Australian
3. Commercialising Victoria’s biotechnology: developing Synchrotron for Victoria.
a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship where • Commission a feasibility study into the establishment
clever research can be successfully taken to market. of shared scale-up fermentation facilities.
4. Building our corporate base and marketing • Encouragement of Major National Research Facilities
our capabilities: encouraging growth of existing in biotechnology in Victoria.
biotechnology companies and investment by local
and international firms.
5. Providing Government leadership and support: providing
leadership to the Victorian community, and the research
and industry sectors to develop biotechnology for the
benefit of Victoria in a framework where safety and
ethical considerations are intrinsic to that development.
A vision for biotechnology in Victoria The Victorian biotechnology strategic plan aims to raise
Victoria’s profile internationally, so Melbourne, Victoria
Scientific discoveries of the late twentieth century, such as is recognised among the world leaders for biotechnology
the deciphering of the Human Genome, are the basis of a research and commercial development within five years.
new technological revolution—the Biotechnology Revolution.
Although in its infancy, this is a revolution that promises to Vision: By 2010 Victoria is recognised as one of the
have more impact on our lives than the information revolution world’s top five biotechnology locations for the vibrancy
of the late twentieth century. of its industry and quality of its research.
Victoria has a proud history of research and development Biotechnology is heavily dependent on the scientific research
(R&D) in the life sciences, which form the basis of this new base for its flow of new ideas. Development of industries
revolution. Our record as a centre of research excellence based on biotechnology requires a first-league research
in life sciences is recognised internationally. However, in base, with world-class infrastructure being used by international
recent years, as the global focus has turned to commercial leaders in their fields producing globally competitive research
exploitation of scientific discoveries, there has been increasing outcomes. A supply of skilled workers must be available to
recognition of the need to put in place the skills and linkages fill the specialised jobs associated with the high technology
that will enable us to reap the commercial and social benefits industries attracted to Victoria by our strength in these sectors.
of this research. Both local and international investors are needed to provide
the funds required to build manufacturing plants and R&D
Victoria is home to one third of Australia’s biotechnology centres for major international companies, and to support
companies, including Australia’s largest, CSL Limited. The the start-up phases of future companies being spun out of
industry base is growing rapidly with the backing of venture Victoria’s R&D clusters.
capital and other investments. However, more investment
and skills are required to sustain the growth and development To realise this vision Victoria must:
of the industry. • raise international awareness of our presence in
One of Victoria’s greatest strengths in biotechnology capability biotechnology, building on our competitive strengths in
is the co-location of key research and education organisations, the R&D base, and particularly focusing on potential
hospitals and industry in a number of precincts of research investors, partners and manufacturers;
and education excellence. These precincts—Parkville, the • ensure that Victoria’s life sciences R&D sector remains
Monash Health Research Precinct, the Alfred Medical Research internationally competitive both in terms of its
and Education Precinct, Bundoora, the Austin Biomedical infrastructure and its star scientific researchers;
Alliance Precinct and Werribee—provide a focal point for
sharing resources and the exchange of ideas. Exciting new • attract investors and partners to support our research
projects like the $400 million development in Parkville, Bio21, effort and fund our start-up companies as they move into
reinforce Victoria’s commitment to building a sustainable, global markets;
dynamic biotechnology industry with a strong
Health and medical research 3. Commercialising Victoria’s biotechnology
• The Strategic Health Research Investment Committee Objective: developing a culture of innovation and
and the Department of Human Services are reviewing entrepreneurship where clever research
Victoria’s operational infrastructure support for health and can be successfully taken to market.
medial research and will continue to present their findings
and recommendations to the Victorian Minister for Health. Actions
• Through the STI Initiative the Government provides Best practice intellectual property management systems
funding for infrastructure projects such as the Murdoch • The Victorian Government will work with research institutes,
Childrens Research Institute, the Alfred Medical Research and the finance and legal communities to identify ways to
and Education Precinct, and NeuroSciences Victoria. assist the implementation of best practice intellectual property
• Provide support of $2 million to establish a fully integrated systems in research organisations.
biomedical research cluster at Monash University. Access to finance
• A $320 million redevelopment of the Austin The Victorian Government will stimulate access to finance
and Repatriation Medical Centre. for biotechnology commercialisation by:
• Victoria will work to win one of the national • Event sponsorship.
Biotechnology Centres of Excellence.
• Promotion of the Victoria and Australia’s capabilities.
Agricultural production and food processing
• Encouraging the use of effective investment mechanisms
• Through the STI Initiative the Government provides and tools.
funding for infrastructure projects such as the Plant
Biosciences facility, the Emerging Food Processing • Investment-ready commercialisation programs.
Technology Centre at Food Sciences Australia, and the • Information exchanges.
Australian Starter Culture Research Centre.
• Maximising access opportunities to the Biotechnology
• Work to establish an Australian Animal Genome Innovation Fund.
Technology Commercialisation Program
• Develop a network of links between institutions and
industry to undertake collaborative research into • Support the development of a strong innovation culture
functional food products. and commercialisation through the Technology
• AgBio21, a subset of the Biotechnology Strategic
Development Plan and a stand-alone plan for agriculture • Provide international commercialisation advice
is being developed. and facilitation.
• Support the establishment of an agricultural
biotechnology commercialisation vehicle through
the Technology Commercialisation Program.
• Provide strategic commercialisation advice.
Encouraging an entrepreneurial culture
• Encourage interactions across the sectors.
• Promote entrepreneurship.
4. Building Victoria’s corporate base and marketing Biotechnology ambassador
• Professor Adrienne Clarke AO has been appointed as
Objective: encouraging growth of existing biotechnology the inaugural Biotechnology Ambassador for Victoria.
companies and investment by local and international firms.
Marketing our capability through international trade fairs
• Victoria will participate as a leading member of the
Investment attraction and facilitation Australian delegation for the Bio2001 conference
in San Diego.
• Maximise clinical trial opportunities.
• The Victorian Government will assist local companies to
• The Victorian Government will provide a range of support
participate in strategic trade fairs and exhibitions around
services designed to encourage new investment.
the world and will facilitate inward and outward trade and
Networks investment missions.
• Support the provision of a biotechnology industry Hosting international conferences
network through work with AusBiotech Ltd.
• The Victorian Government will work with research
Application of biotechnology across industry organisations, associations and industry to encourage
major international conferences to Victoria.
• Develop strategies to increase cross-industry uptake.
5. Government leadership and support
Trade and export development
Objective: providing leadership to the Victorian community,
• Continue providing export development programs. and research and industry sectors to develop
• Ensure up-to-date information is available to the biotechnology for the benefit of Victoria in a framework
agriculture and food sectors on how domestic where safety and ethical considerations are intrinsic
and international markets for genetically modified, to that development.
non-genetically modified and mingled agriculture Actions
and food products are evolving.
• Work closely with the Commonwealth and industry in
developing the national market access and maintenance • The Victorian Government has established an
strategies for exports of products of modern biotechnology. interdepartmental committee of senior officers, reporting
This will include segregation and intellectual property to Government, on biotechnology safety and ethics.
systems to meet domestic and export market requirements
• The Victorian Government will participate in the national
such as an export certification system, and the development
gene technology regulatory scheme. A bill will be
of national and international regulations and codes of practice.
considered by the Victorian Parliament to enable
Building international relationships Victorian participation in the national scheme.
• Identify international collaboration opportunities and work • The Victorian Government will nominate the Minister
to establish relationships with other key centres around for Health as lead Minister for matters of biotechnology
the world. safety and ethics. The Minister for Health will sit on the
national Gene Technology Ministerial Council as
Biotechnology alumni Victoria’s representative.
• Establish an international biotechnology alumni network • The Departments of Human Services and Natural
as part of the DSRD expatriate initiative. Resources and Environment have established committees
and adopted protocols on the ethical aspects of the work
involving GMOs that they either carry out or fund.
• The Victorian Government will work with stakeholders Implementing the strategic plan
to review the existing ethical processes and develop
• Reporting to the Minister for State and Regional
a comprehensive code of ethical practice for Victorian
Development a dedicated team will have responsibility for
groups working with GMOs.
delivery of the Biotechnology Strategic Plan coordinating
• The Government will establish a State committee to effort with industry, research organisations, universities
advise on issues of ethical concern for the Victorian and government agencies on a whole of Government basis.
community and complement the work of the national
• An annual report on progress and an update of the
Gene Technology Ethics Committee.
Strategic Plan will be produced by the Biotechnology unit
• The Government has adopted the Information Privacy Act in DSRD, in close consultation with all stakeholders.
2000. This legislation protects the privacy of individuals’
health information and provides individuals with a right
to access their health information as well as covering
genetic information that is in a form that is predictive
of an individual’s health.
Communication—knowledge for choice
• The Government’s biotechnology web site
www.biotechnology.vic.gov.au provides information on
biotechnology and linkages to other information resources.
• The Government will support a series of forums on
biotechnology in Melbourne and regional Victoria to
enable the community to engage in informed debate.
• The Government will ensure that there is a mechanism
for the community to voice its concerns on biotechnology
and, in the first instance, has established a contact point
for the community to voice its concerns within the
Department of Human Services.
• The KISE Council and the SHRIC will continue to
provide advice relating to the implementation of this
• Intragovernmental consideration on the national regulatory
scheme will proceed under the auspices of the Biotechnology
Safety and Ethics Interdepartmental Committee.
• A Platform Technology Steering Group and a
Biotechnology Skills Taskforce will be established
to provide advice on specific issues.
Over the century ahead biotechnology will have a profound Modern biotechnology is based on the development of a
impact on our health and quality of life. It is a technology new range of techniques resulting from the 1953 discovery
that humankind has applied for thousands of years, but by Watson and Crick of the chemical basis for the genetic
scientific discoveries of the late twentieth century are code that is common to all living organisms—DNA
facilitating a life sciences revolution that is creating (deoxyribonucleic acid). By the mid-1960s, scientists
opportunities and challenges for Victoria, Australia and understood how these chemicals were grouped to form
the world. The impacts of the biotechnology age will be genes and how genes were expressed to produce
global and some predict more pervasive than the current proteins.
information technology revolution.
By the late 1970s, a number of techniques that allowed
With the introduction of new technology comes the genes to be removed from and inserted into organisms
potential for both beneficial and adverse impacts on were perfected. This ability made possible the manufacture
society. Enjoying the benefits of the biotechnology age of products of the genes (proteins) on a large scale. This
requires the establishment of sound regulatory systems resulted in a number of new biotechnology products, such
to ensure that any adverse impacts are assessed and as insulin and human growth hormone, providing higher
managed effectively. quality and safer alternatives to the animal-derived products
The Victorian Biotechnology Strategic Plan developed
jointly by industry, the research community and the DNA fingerprinting was developed in 1984. This technique
Victorian Government is aimed at positioning Victoria to is now used in law enforcement and determination of
capitalise on this revolution. This strategy addresses the paternity.
non-regulatory issues associated with the application of
The rapid sequencing of DNA and advances in information
biotechnology. However, it is complementary to actions by
technology are driving the current biotechnology revolution.
the Victorian and Commonwealth Governments to establish
The current generation of sequencing machines has vastly
a national regulatory framework for genetically modified
accelerated the pace—the yeast genome took ten years to
organisms, which will ensure that safeguards are in place
decipher; modern machines could decipher it in a single day.
for the community and the environment.
These techniques are now being applied to the sequencing
What is biotechnology? of the human genome. The completion of the first draft of
Biotechnology is the application of knowledge about living the human genome was announced on 26 June 2000. The
organisms and their components to make new products current stage is regarded as having found the alphabet of
and to develop new industrial processes. life. Scientists estimate that it will take 40 years of study for
the secrets of each gene and its products to be revealed.
Biotechnology through the ages
Biotechnology is one of the oldest technologies applied
by man. The Sumerians brewed beer with yeast as their
biological workhorse as early as 1750 BC.
Over the centuries people have used selective breeding
technologies to change the characteristics of domesticated
plants and animals. The laws that explain genetic
inheritance were first described by an Austrian monk,
Gregor Mendel, in 1866.
Why is biotechnology important? Medicine
Biotechnology is an enabling technology with application In medicine, biotechnology will enable treatment of
in a wide range of industry sectors. The most recent and previously untreatable diseases as well as the opportunity
exciting applications that have come to the fore over the to radically improve upon existing therapies.
last couple of decades in the human health and agricultural In the western world, demand for new treatments is being
production and food processing sectors are commonly led by the ageing of the population with the associated rise
referred to as products of modern biotechnology. in age-related diseases including cancers and dementia.
Industries that use biotechnology include: It is estimated that, by 2051, 24% of the Australian
population will be over the age of 65, and that health care
• health—pharmaceuticals and diagnostics; costs in Australia are predicted to rise from $43 billion to
• agriculture—plant breeding, animal breeding, veterinary $90 billion over the next 20 years (APMA). Biotechnology
products and diagnostics; will provide a range of products to meet this rapidly
• environment and resources—pollution control, land
bio-remediation, water treatment, minerals extraction The developing world is demanding effective and
and processing and pest management; affordable treatments and vaccines for diseases that not
only impact on the lives of individuals, but significantly
• food and beverage processing—starters, enzymes, constrain economic growth and development opportunities.
fermentation; Biotechnology offers great prospects for vaccines against
• industrial applications—further processing of agricultural diseases such as HIV/AIDS, which infects 16,000 new
products (e.g. oils, fibres), bio-processing, and people in the developing world every day, and malaria
generation of industrial enzymes; which infects up to half a billion people each year.
• energy production—biomass. The number of new biotechnology products reaching the
market is increasing exponentially. In the 14 years between
As we stand at the dawn of the new century, we recognise 1982 and 1996, 59 biotechnology drugs were approved
the enormous potential that biotechnology holds for improving the in Australia. In the three years to 1999, 56 were approved.
quality of life here in the United States and around the world. This explosion in the number of new products is only
These technologies, which draw on our understanding of the life a beginning. There are currently 2,200 products in
sciences to develop products and solve problems, are progressing development with 300 products in Phase III clinical trials
at an exponential rate and promise to make unprecedented or awaiting approval (Ernst and Young, 1999).
contributions to public health and safety, a cleaner environment,
and economic prosperity.
U.S. President Clinton, January 2000
Already, in the area of medicines and pharmaceuticals, and
in biotechnology, tremendous progress has been made in the
last decades. Cures are now available for many diseases and
health problems which plagued previous generations. And the
information compiled by researchers deciphering the human
genome is now opening opportunities which we could not imagine
only a few years ago.
Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette, United Nations 1
Biotechnology is a rapidly developing technology, with diverse
applications and with the potential to generate major economic,
1. Keynote address to the first United Nations International
health and environmental benefits. It is likely to play a key role
Model United Nations Conference. UN Press Release DSG/SM/103,
in Australia’s future prosperity.
11 August 2000.
Commonwealth of Australia 2 2. Australian Biotechnology: Progress and Achievements, 2000, p.3.
Agricultural science and natural resource management Food processing
The earth’s capacity to continue to provide clean air and Traditional biotechnology is essential to the production
water, productive soils and a rich diversity of plants and of many foods and beverages. Modern biotechnology is
animals is central to ensuring quality of life for the current common in enzyme production and food processing aids
population and for future generations. However, current that are used in the production of foods such as cheese
population growth is already straining the earth’s and beer.
resources, with a further four billion people expected
to be born by 2030. This is set against a backdrop where
intensive agricultural practices are yielding ever more New materials such as the fabric Tercel, which is
meagre returns at a great cost to the environment, a product derived from bacteria, are already on the
particularly in the least developed countries in the world. market. The future may also see the development of
The ability to increase yields and have secure food plant or animal factories that produce high value products
production is a key issue for many countries. It therefore such as plastics, replacing finite resources such as
follows that one of the world’s most significant challenges petroleum. The mining sector may use environmentally
is to increase food production while ensuring that friendly enzymes to extract ore from rock. Other
production systems are sustainable and do not contribute environmental protection and remediation applications
to degradation of land and water resources. are currently under consideration or in preliminary
research in a range of industry sectors.
Biotechnology has emerged as one of the most promising
platforms to address this situation. Already in the market Research is under way on the development of computers
are crops with insect and herbicide resistance that have that have protein-based memory banks instead of silicon.
demonstrated the ability to increase productivity and At the dawn of this new technological revolution the
reduce agrochemical usage, which in turn provide greater potential of biotechnology seems limitless.
environmental protection from agricultural production.
Biotechnology and the economy
Biotechnology also offers the chance to tackle the more
intractable resource management issues facing agriculture, of the future
such as the remediation of salt-affected farmland. In the Across the globe countries are in a state of transition to becoming
future, we are likely to see crops that can remediate knowledge-based economies driven by scientific and technological
degraded land and retire marginal land through increased advances. Innovation is increasingly being regarded as the key
yields per acre. In addition, biotechnology offers the factor underpinning a nation’s export competitiveness, employment
opportunity to produce useful industrial and pharmaceutical growth and economic well-being.
products, and plants and animals with improved functional
and nutritional properties. Australia’s future depends on investing wisely today in the
foundations of economic competitiveness. Increasingly that
Biotechnology provides powerful tools for the sustainable competitiveness rests on the ability to develop and utilise new
development of agriculture, fisheries and forestry and can ideas and technology.
be of significant help in meeting the food needs of a growing
To be successful we will need a world class research base,
and increasingly urbanized population.
easy pathways for the commercialisation of ideas and technology.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation 3
Equally important we need a culture where innovation is
actively pursued and encouraged in all businesses and in every
Biotechnology will be a crucial part of expanding agricultural
productivity in the 21st century. If safely deployed, it could be
a tremendous help in meeting the challenge of feeding an Innovation Summit Implementation Committee
additional three billion human beings, 95% of them in the poor
and developing countries, on the same amount of land and
water currently available.
Ismail Serageldin, World Bank 3. UN Press Release SAG/72, 17 March 2000.
Emerging is an economy which is global in its orientation. Technological convergence
The drivers of this economy are outlined in Table 1.
The knowledge economy is driving an unprecedented
Table 1: Changing Economic and Business Drivers interaction and transfer of knowledge, which is opening
Old Paradigm New Paradigm up new fields of discovery and creating new industries.
There is increasing convergence of a multitude of science
Key factors are capital, Rising importance of and technology areas—biology, biochemistry, medicine,
resources and labour knowledge and creativity electronics, photonics, materials science, physics,
Exports dependent on Addition of knowledge- chemistry, information technology, computing and
resource-based industries based activity and the engineering. The great advance in unravelling the human
knowledge-based parts genome would never have taken place without the
of the resource industry dramatic contributions of many of these technologies.
With a few exceptions Firms going global and The dynamics of the interdisciplinary effort is transforming
businesses serve local subject to global competition the traditional roles of scientists and their skills base. An
markets example of this is the area of biology which, through the
increasing use of information technology, is in transition
Primary focus on cost Imperative to deliver superior from a ‘wet’ to a ‘dry’ science. This is reflected in a
competitiveness value to customers through growing demand for combined skills in computer
innovation technology, engineering and science.
Relatively long product Trend to shorter product Some of the most important new developments are coming
cycles cycles from microtechnology, which combines the technologies
Getting more out of Creating new businesses of microelectronics, engineering, biotechnology, materials
existing business and placing a premium science, nanotechnology, manufacturing and design. An
on risk taking and example of the interrelationship of these areas to create
entrepreneurial behaviour new enabling ‘technologies’ is shown in Figure 1.
Very difficult to find Venture capital becomes
venture capital a key part of new business
Little incentive for Shift to strategic alliances
collaboration and other forms of
Source: The Chance to Change, Report by the Chief Scientist,
Biotechnology firms are typical of businesses in the
modern economy. They start with a potential global market,
with the generation and application of knowledge being the
key to their competitiveness. There is a rapid pace of
discovery. New businesses funded by venture capital are
created. Rewards for success are high, but many will fail
along the way. Collaboration or partnerships are common
approaches to commercialisation, product development
Figure 1: Interrelationships between
Automotive & Biomedical &
Telecommunications photonics Human &
microelectronics Animal Health
computers & storage
Instrumentation software & modelling Food &
internet & communications
microfabrication Enabling proteomics
Business microdevices genomics Business
Oportunities engineering & design bioinformatics Oportunities
packaging structural biology
new materials & novel structures
Aerospace analytical & processing techniques Environmental
physics & chemistry Monitoring
Manufacturing Business Mining
Major gains in biotechnology are going to be realised
through the deployment of such new enabling
technologies—most specifically in the form of
devices/sensors and new materials. Biosensors
are predicted to play an important role in preventative
medicine and early diagnosis, food processing and
environmental monitoring, microfluidics and micropumps
in drug delivery and the treatment of disease. Australian
companies and researchers are among the lead groups
in many microtechnology areas such as biosensors, drug
discovery, photonic devices, micro-electrical-mechanical
systems (MEMS) and medical implants. The expected
global market for health-related microtechnology products
is estimated to be in the region of US$10 billion by 2003.
(NEXUS Market Survey, European Union, 1998).
Need for a biotechnology strategic plan Australia is currently positioned well for the biotechnology
age, with strengths in research, manufacturing, agriculture
The growth and development of biotechnology, information and food production. It is critical that Australia, as a nation,
and communications technology and other new industries invests to capitalise on our established strengths. The pace
is essential if Australia is to be a leading economy in the of biotechnology development is such that our advantages
twenty-first century. Biotechnology will also underpin are being eroded by competitor countries already
the competitiveness of our traditional export industries committed to investment in biotechnology. The scale of the
such as the agriculture and food sectors. investments being made internationally in biotechnology
Victoria has one of the most competitive and efficient research and innovation dwarf Australia’s national effort.
agricultural sectors in the world. The continued success We must lift our game if we are to compete.
of this sector will rely on the application of new technology Victoria has recognised the need to act in a strategic
and innovative production practices. In order to remain and coordinated way to capture the economic, social and
profitable in the face of increased competition and input environmental benefits of this technology. In consultation
costs, the agriculture and food sectors must continue with over 150 key figures across the full spectrum of the
to direct operations to the new economic paradigm. biotechnology industry, the Government has developed this
In the future agricultural innovation will largely be based Strategic Plan to drive policies on biotechnology for the
on biotechnology. future. It is a plan that recognises that Government through
Similarly, biotechnology is having an ever-increasing impact investment and support can be a facilitator and catalyst of
on human health developments that will transform medical economic growth. It is a plan that recognises the roles of
practice. industry and the research sector. It is a plan that respects
the right of the community to make choices, and recognises
Staying out of the biotechnology revolution is not an option. the role that Government must play to ensure that the
Victoria and Australia must seize the opportunity to be developments are safe for the community and environment
biotechnology developers and suppliers to the world. and are developed within a sound ethical framework.
If we do not grasp this opportunity, we will be just
importers, adopters and adaptors of the innovative The Victorian Biotechnology Strategic Development Plan
solutions developed by others. Australia’s experience seeks to build on the National Biotechnology Strategy
in the information revolution has demonstrated that this released by the Federal Government in July 2000.
is not the pathway to wealth.
In 1997 an important industry report titled Spectator or Serious
Player: Competitiveness in Australia’s Information Industries
warned that we face a widening trade gap in the fastest growing
area of world trade: IT&T. Four (sic) years later we find that IT&T
imports, including services, are continuing to grow at twice the rate
of exports. The resulting deficit is the size of our total coal exports
(or 10% of our whole exports). On current trends it will become
$30 billion per year in ten years time. It will get worse: whilst
Australians have taken to the Internet at world’s best levels,
we are not capturing a real share of global e-commerce and are
exporting our consumption. We are great consumers of other
people’s products and services. We are ITing beyond our means.
Dr Terry Cutler, Ghosts in the Corporate Machine: Science
and technology at the board table, National Press Club
presentation, 2 August 2000.
biotechnology around the world
Biotechnology is the most research intensive sector ever Table 2: Biotechnology Companies in Key Markets
known. Where e-commerce companies invest to establish
Australia Canada USA Europe*
a market presence, biotechnology companies’ expenditure
is driven by an insatiable demand for research. The annual Revenues 660 850 18,600 4,400
industry investment in biotechnology research is estimated US$m
to be US$10 billion in the USA alone. This accounts
for over 53% of industry revenues. Successful industry No. of core 120 282 1,283 1,178
research relies on a leading edge research base which biotechnology
is closely linked to the industrial base. There is significant companies*
public sector research expenditure in the areas of R&D 159 436 9,910 2,754
molecular genetics and associated biosciences in research Expenditure
institutes and universities in the USA, Canada, Asia and US$m
Europe. The collaboration of international governments
on the Human Genome Project demonstrates the R&D 24% 51% 53% 63%
importance of public research to the future development Intensity
of biotechnology products. Employment 4,500 10,000 153,000 N/A
The USA dominates world biotechnology developments. * The European definition of a core biotechnology company is different
Canada, UK, Japan and Germany are significant players. from the definition applied in Australia, USA or Canada; therefore data
In the Asia–Pacific region, Korea and Singapore are are not directly comparable (Ernst and Young 1999).
investing heavily to develop their biotechnology base.
New Zealand has some research and industry strengths Market growth
in agricultural biotechnology and in bioinformatics. Biotechnology is one of the fastest growing markets
Many countries have national and state policies in place internationally. Total sales of US biotechnology products
aimed at developing biotechnology capabilities. These grew by 17% to US$13 billion in 1998 and are predicted
typically include support for research and development, to grow a further 10% per year over the next decade.
seed finance, networking and clustering activities. Table 3: US Biotechnology Products Forecast
Appendix B provides further information on these
countries. 1998 2003 2008 1998–2008
US$m US$m US$m Annual
Human 9120 16100 27000 11
Human 2100 3100 4300 7
Agriculture 420 1000 2300 19
Specialities 390 900 2000 18
Non-medical 270 400 600 8
Total 12300 21500 36200 10
The international market for biotechnology products can
be broken into a number of sectors. Currently human
health is the dominant sector in terms of sales, although
it is projected that agriculture will have the strongest
growth over the next decade.
biotechnology around the world
Human health With the unlocking of the human genome, there has been
a paradigm shift from the detection and treatment of
Biotechnology applications in human health may be broken
disease to prediction and prevention. In the future it will
into two major areas—pharmaceuticals and diagnostics.
be possible to screen the genome for as many as 400,000
Pharmaceuticals is by far the biggest market for genetic conditions and defects through DNA chips.
biotechnology products today, with global sales of Consequently there is a trend in diagnostics towards
pharmaceuticals rising to US$308 billion (A$526 b). genomics-based products. Such diagnostic processes
Biotechnology underpins almost all pharmaceutical are at the interface of biotechnology, microtechnology
research with 70% to 90% of conventional and information technology. Genomic based diagnosis
pharmaceuticals being discovered using biotechnology- will enable a shift in pharmaceutical development and
based approaches. The total pharmaceutical industry treatment toward pharmacogenomics—drugs that target
investment in research and development (R&D) in 1999 particular sub-populations.
is estimated to be US$43 billion (A$73 b).
Agricultural production and food processing
Worldwide the pharmaceutical industry is dominated by biotechnology
multinationals. Over recent years many multinationals have
Biotechnology is facilitating a quantum shift in the
merged to become global giants. In 2000 Glaxo Wellcome
development of new agricultural products and processes.
merged with SmithKline Beecham to form GlaxoSmithKline.
It reduces processes of multigeneration selection to
This combined company has worldwide sales of
a single growing season and enables rapid improvement
UK£17 billion (A$44 b) and an annual R&D investment
in a range of agronomic traits. Transgenic strains of crops
of UK£2.1 billion (A$5.4 b). Pfizer acquired Warner
such as cotton, corn, soybean and canola have been
Lambert in January 2000 with the new company having
introduced into world production. Most of these
sales of US$28 billion (A$48 b) and an R&D investment
modifications deliver benefits to the producer, incorporating
of US$4.7 billion (A$8 b). As a point of comparison, total
insect and virus resistance and herbicide tolerance.
research and development investment in 1998–99 by all
Australian governments, industry and universities across By the end of 1998, 56 transgenic crops had been
all industries and areas of research was only A$8.9 billion. approved for commercialisation across the world. These
crops consisted of 13 crop species, with six different traits
The new pharmaceutical industry giants are relying
added. In 1999, the global estimated area of transgenic
increasingly on universities’ and research institutes’ research
crops was 40 million hectares, with a value of between
and innovation often through small biotechnology firms, as
US$2.1 billion and US$2.3 billion. There have been
the source of their new products. In 1998 for example, 60%
large increases in the area grown in recent years, from
of the product targets undergoing testing by US company
1.7 million hectares in 1996, 11 million hectares in 1997
Bristol-Myers Squibb were from contracted biotechnology
and 28 million hectares in 1998.
laboratories (Richard Oliver, The coming biotechnology age:
the business of bio-materials, 1999, p.159). Pharmaceutical In 1999, 40 million hectares of commercial genetically
companies provide an essential source of finance for the modified crops were grown across the world. The major
smaller biotechnology companies with the research and transgenic crops were herbicide-resistant soybeans,
development costs of new products being hundreds of insect-resistant corn, herbicide-resistant canola and
millions of dollars. They also provide global marketing and herbicide-resistant and/or insect-resistant cotton. Fifty
distribution networks for the sale of new products. different transgenic plants have been approved for
commercial use in the United States. The USA is the
Diagnostics has become an increasingly lucrative market.
principal grower of transgenic crops. Argentina and
Diagnostic product development is much less expensive
Canada are other significant producers. China is rapidly
and has shorter development times than pharmaceutical
increasing its commercial crop area. Table 4 indicates
drug development. Currently USA and Europe represent
the areas currently growing quantities of transgenic crops.
70% of the world market, although markets outside these
two continents are growing at an accelerated rate of
8–9% per year.
Table 4: Estimated global area planted with transgenic It is likely that the next generation of products to
crops in 1999 be introduced globally will bring direct benefits to the
consumer, such as enhanced nutritional qualities including
Country Area (hectares) Percentage of
rice with increased levels of vitamin A and iron; canola
and soybean with modified oil content; and foods devoid
USA 28.7 million 72% of common allergens.
Argentina 6.7 million 17% Genetic engineering of livestock is well behind that
of plants. However, biotechnology is being used to identify
Canada 4.0 million 10% the healthiest and most productive animals, which are
China 0.3 million 1% then used in conventional breeding programs for herd
improvement. Successful expression and regulation
South Africa 0.1 million <1% of manipulated animal DNA is more difficult to achieve
Australia 0.1 million <1% and the experiments much more costly than in plants.
(cotton varieties only) A number of transgenic animals have been produced and
are undergoing trials. The efficiency of genetic engineering
Mexico <0.1 million <1% in animals has the potential to be vastly improved following
Spain <0.1 million <1% the production of the first cloned animal (the sheep known
as ‘Dolly’, in Scotland). Genetic modification of animals
France <0.1 million <1% together with cloning technologies has the potential to offer:
Portugal <0.1 million <1% • improved animal welfare and product safety with reduced
Romania <0.1 million <1% dependence on insecticides, antibiotics or other
Ukraine <0.1 million <1%
• enhanced productivity, growth rates, product quality
Total 40.0 million 100% and environmental sustainability;
(Source: ISAAA, James, 1999) • production of new pharmaceuticals, food with special
Adoption rates for transgenic crops in 1999 were nutritional traits or other value-added products (such
unprecedented and were the highest for any new as new materials) in animal milk.
technology in the global agricultural sector. Farmers Appendix C provides a table outlining the applications
who grow transgenic crops recognise the benefits they for biotechnology in the areas of agriculture, food and
offer, such as flexibility in crop management, higher human health.
crop productivity and reductions in herbicide and
pesticide applications. These factors all contribute
to increased sustainability of agricultural production
and the environment.
Revenues for transgenic crops have increased by
approximately thirtyfold in the five-year period 1995
to 1999. Global sales from transgenic crops were
estimated at US$75 million in 1995. By 1999 sales
were estimated to have reached US$2.1 to $2.3 billion.
The global market for transgenic crops is projected to
reach approximately US$3 billion in 2000, US$8 billion
in 2005, and US$25 billion in 2010 (ISAAA, James, 1999).
biotechnology in australia and victoria
Biotechnology: a national strength Research strengths and expertise
Australia has approximately 185 dedicated biotechnology Medical research
companies (October 2000), most of which are small with
Victoria has a long and proud tradition in medical research
high levels of research and development spending. Major
spanning nearly 100 years. The State’s researchers have
international pharmaceutical and agribusiness companies
been honoured internationally for their work, including
are highly represented in the Australian biotechnology
Nobel prizewinners such as Sir Frank Macfarlane Burnet.
sector, with many forming alliances with Australian
Victoria has the nation’s largest concentration of research
companies and research organisations. One of Australia’s
institutions, accounting for over 40% of Australia’s NHMRC
key strengths is the substantial research infrastructure
funding despite having only 25% of the population.
provided by its world-class universities, hospitals, medical
research institutes, Cooperative Research Centres and Melbourne is internationally recognised as a centre of
Commonwealth and State funded research and excellence in medical research. As well as undertaking
development organisations. Commonwealth expenditure leading-edge research in its universities and teaching
on biotechnology research and development is in excess hospitals, Melbourne is home to more than 20 independent
of $250 million per year, with private sector spending health and medical research organisations, including many
of a similar order. The Federal Government’s innovation world-class institutes such as the Walter and Eliza Hall
action plan, Backing Australia’s Ability, is committed Institute of Medical Research (WEHI), the Baker Medical
to deepening the biotechnology sector in Australia by Research Institute, the Howard Florey Institute of
both strengthening the research and development sector, Experimental Physiology and Medicine and the Murdoch
and via direct measures such as establishing Centres Childrens Research Institute.
of Excellence in biotechnology and doubling the
Biotechnology Innovation Fund to encourage the Substantial fundamental and clinically-based biomedical
development of new biotechnology firms. research strengths in Victoria's medical research institutes,
universities and hospitals are broadly outlined in Table 5.
Table 5: Victorian Medical Research Strengths
Bioengineering xx x xx
Blood x xx x x x x
Cancer xx x xx x xx x x x
Cardiovascular x xx x xx x xx x x
Development x x xx x xx xx x x x
Diabetes xx xx xx xx x x
Genetic Diseases x x xx xx x
Hormones x x x xx x
Immunology xx x xx xx x xx
Infectious Diseases xx xx xx xx x x x
Medicinal Chem xx
Neurosciences x xx xx xx xx xx xx xx x
Public Health x x x x xx xx xx xx x
Reproduction x xx x x
Structural Biology xx xx xx xx xx
Surgery xx xx
XX major strength
X other significant capability
Agricultural and food processing research Table 6: Agricultural Production and Food Processing
Victoria has both research and technological strengths
to support development in agriculture and food industries.
Agriculture Victoria’s (AV) Plant Biotechnology Centre Institute/Centre Research area
is applying functional genomics and bioinformatics Centre for Plant Cell Molecular and cellular
to molecular breeding and allele discovery in pasture Biology—University biology of breeding
legumes, pasture grasses, oilseeds and native species. of Melbourne systems
The Botany Department at the University of Melbourne
houses the Special Research Centre for Plant Cell Biology, CRC for Bioproducts Biology and chemistry
which has world-class expertise in molecular and cellular of complex carbohydrates
biology of breeding systems and the biology and chemistry & fermentation processes
of complex carbohydrates. The Cooperative Research Centre for Environmental Chemical and climatic
Centre for Bioproducts, headquartered at the University Stress and Adaptation stress adaptation
of Melbourne, specialises in the production and analysis Research (CESAR)
of novel plant biopolymers.
Institute for Horticultural Genetic improvement
Agriculture Victoria is also nationally competitive in the Development (IHD)—DNRE of horticultural crops
development of rapid diagnostics for plant diseases.
Institute for Land and Food Plant molecular biology
In the area of animal sciences, CSIRO Australian Animal Resources (ILFR)— and biotechnology
Health Laboratories has extensive experience and University of Melbourne (horticulture and oilseeds)
capability in the development of animal vaccines and Forest biotechnology
therapeutics. The groups at the Institute for Reproduction
and Development and the Victorian Institute for Animal Joint Centre for Crop Genetic improvement
Sciences (VIAS), Agriculture Victoria, can provide Improvement (JCCI)— of grain legumes and
capabilities in animal genomics and have untapped University of Melbourne, oilseed crops
potential which has yet to be fully applied. DNRE
Food Sciences Australia—a joint venture between AV Plant Biotechnology Centre Plant genomics (pasture
and the CSIRO—is Australia’s leading centre for food (PBC)—DNRE species, oilseeds and
research, bringing together the capabilities of two research native species)
institutions into an integrated, commercially focused centre. Victorian Institute of Animal Genetic improvement
Sciences (VIAS)—DNRE (bovine, porcine)
Australian Animal Health Disease diagnosis and
Laboratories (AAHL)— vaccines development
Veterinary School— Animal and pathogen
University of Melbourne genomics
Monash Institute for Animal transformation
Reproduction and and cloning
Florigene—NuFarm Ltd Plant biotechnology
Food Science Australia— Food processing
biotechnology in australia and victoria
Research, education and industry
One of Victoria’s greatest strengths is the co-location
of key biotechnology research and education organisations
with industry in a number of precincts of research and
education excellence. These support the development
of critical mass, shared resources and focal points for the
interchange of ideas. These precincts also support spin-off
companies offering infrastructure, incubators and access
to business support services. Larger companies will be
able to establish research headquarters within these
precincts. Key precincts are outlined in Table 7.
Table 7: Biotechnology Research, Education and
Parkville—City Centred at Parkville on the northern edge of the inner City of Melbourne, but includes
groups within a 3 kilometre radius of Parkville including Melbourne City, Carlton, Fitzroy
• Over 2000 researchers
and Melbourne East. It is the major centre in Australia for medical and bioscientific
• Over $200 m in research, education, clinical practice, production of pharmaceuticals and biotechnology
research funding products and for clinical trials.
• Bio21—Parkville Universities: University of Melbourne; Victorian College of Pharmacy (Monash University);
Development $400 m RMIT University.
Research Institutes: Walter and Eliza Hall Institute; Howard Florey; The Ludwig institute for
Cancer Research Institute; Murdoch Childrens Research Institute; Bionic Ear Institute; St
Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research; Mutation Research Centre; Centre for Eye
Research Australia; CSIRO; Melbourne Neuromuscular Research Centre, Bernard O’Brien
Institute of Microsurgery; Mental Health Research Institute.
Hospitals: Royal Melbourne, Royal Childrens, Royal Women’s, St Vincents, Royal Victorian
Eye and Ear; Peter MacCallum; Freemason’s; Mercy.
Industry: CSL Ltd; Cytopia Pty Ltd; Starpharma Pooled Development Ltd; Prana
Biotechnology Ltd; Mondo Medical Equipment; Alpharma Animal Health Ltd; Hexima Ltd;
Centre for Developmental Cancer Therapeutics.
Alfred Medical Research Located at Prahran less than 5 km from the CBD, the Alfred Medical Research and
and Education Precinct Education Precinct will be a purpose-designed centre of research and education excellence.
The first phase of development will be completed in 2001. Key groups include:
• over 500 researchers
Universities: Monash University—Department of Epidemiology and Preventative Medicine,
• $35 m research funding
and School of Medicine.
Research Institutes: Baker Medical Research Institute; Macfarlane Burnet Centre
for Medical Research (to relocate in 2001). Other institutes may move to this site.
Hospital: The Alfred Hospital.
Industry: space for industry research is included in the development.
Monash Health Research Located at Clayton, 20 km south-east of the city and linked to it by the CityLink freeway,
Precinct (MHRP), the MHRP and surrounding facilities at Monash University and CSIRO provide a focus for
International Centre for biomedical and other biotechnology research. A major science and technology park is also
Science Technology and being developed at Monash University’s Clayton campus.
Emerging Industries and
Universities: Monash University.
Research Institutes: Monash Institute of Public Health; Southern Health Clinical Research
Institute; Monash Institute of Health Services Research; Monash Cluster for Biomedicine;
Prince Henry’s Institute of Medical Research; Monash Institute of Reproduction and
Development; International Diabetes Institute; Monash elements of AMREP; CSIRO –
Divisions of Molecular Science, Wool Technology, and Forestry and Forestry Products.
Hospitals: Monash Medical Centre.
Industry: Biota Holdings Ltd; Mimotopes Pty Ltd; APV Australia Pty Ltd; Monash IVF Pty Ltd.
Werribee The Werribee precinct, located 25 km south-west of the city centre, is principally focused
on animal and food research.
• 775 researchers and
graduate students Universities: Victoria University of Technology; University of Melbourne—VCAH Gilbert
Chandler Dairy Technology Campus.
• $115 m research
funding Research Institutes: Agrifood Technology; CSIRO—Division of Animal Health; Food
Science Australia; Victorian Institute of Animal Science; Victoria Institute of Biotechnology.
Analytical Laboratories: State Chemistry Laboratory.
Industry: Australian Starter Culture Centre.
Bundoora Bundoora, 12 km north of the City of Melbourne, hosts two major technology parks
operated by La Trobe and RMIT Universities.
Universities: La Trobe University; RMIT University—Faculty of Biomedical and Health
Sciences (to relocate to Bundoora).
Research Institutes: Plant Biotechnology Centre; Walter and Eliza Hall Institute.
Austin Biomedical The Austin Biomedical Alliance Precinct is located at the Austin & Repatriation Medical
Alliance Precinct Centre (A&RMC) in Heidelberg, 12 km north-east of the City. The focus of the Biomedical
Alliance is fostering and encouraging closer links between researchers and clinicians who
• 1000 researchers
are located at the A&RMC to achieve better health outcomes through national and
• $30 m research funding international collaboration.
A $320 m redevelopment of the A&RMC was announced by Government in August 2000
with $15 m of matching funds for the redevelopment of the research precinct.
Universities: University of Melbourne – Departments of Medicine, Surgery, Psychiatry and
Physiotherapy; La Trobe University; RMIT University.
Research Institutes: Austin Research Institute; Brain Research Institute; Ludwig Institute for
Cancer Research (central Clinical Program and Biological Production Facility); Epilepsy
Research Institute; National Stroke Research Institute; The Australian Centre for
Posttraumatic Mental Health; Institute of Breathing and Sleep.
Commercial Interests: Ilexus Pty Ltd.
biotechnology in australia and victoria
Bio21 of hospitals, the six major biomedical research institutes
that comprise the Monash Institutes of Health will provide
Bio21, launched by the Premier of Victoria on 26 June
unique resources to collaborating industrial partners and
2000 is a cornerstone of Victoria’s biotechnology cluster.
start-up companies. The close linkages to genomics,
The $400 million development has been entered into jointly
information technology, materials science and
by the State Government, and the founding partners
bioengineering at this site provide significant opportunities
Melbourne University, the Walter & Eliza Hall Institute,
to commercial interests.
the Royal Melbourne Hospital, and private investors.
The Victorian Government will invest $50 million in Bio21. Victoria’s industry base
Bio21 is building relationships with other research
institutes and universities. Monash University is also For more than 80 years, Victoria has been at the forefront
a partner in Bio21. of biotechnology and bioscience based industry in
Australia. A new emphasis on commercialisation, a global
The building program will lead to the establishment of new pull for new biotechnology products and services, and
facilities for three key research centres: Biomolecular a growing entrepreneurial spirit is fuelling rapid industry
Science and Technology; Medical Research; and Clinical growth. The industry in Victoria is growing at a remarkable
Informatics. rate, with new start-up companies emerging, investment
Bio21 will offer state-of-the-art facilities; an on-site major flowing in to build the sector and companies queuing to list
hospital with clinical research and trial capabilities; on the Australian Stock Exchange. Victoria is home to CSL
laboratories and offices for biotechnology and Limited, which was established in 1916 to produce
pharmaceutical companies; sophisticated conference, vaccines. CSL is Australia’s largest and most successful
communications and gene education centres; as well biotechnology company and has a growing international
as legal, financial and business offices. presence.
There will be a strong commercialisation focus in this Defining a biotechnology company
precinct through the establishment of Bio21 Commercial. Biotechnology is a set of powerful technologies rather than
There will be space for new start-up companies. an industry in the classical sense. Bioscience by its nature
KPMG research indicates that the new Bio21 investment will have an enabling impact on many industry sectors. The
at Parkville will: enabling nature of biotechnology makes it difficult to define
a biotechnology company. For example, Rio Tinto is
• Create up to 100 new biotechnology companies over undertaking biotechnology research in areas of minerals
the next 10 years; extraction, but it cannot be described as a biotechnology
• Attract new investment directly into the industry at a rate company. In the analysis prepared for this Strategic Plan
of at least $30 million per year; by Bioaccent, biotechnology companies have been divided
into dedicated biotechnology companies—group 1; and
• Generate thousands of new jobs each year, both directly companies that undertake significant biotechnology activity
at the Bio21 facilities and through companies feeding within a broader spectrum of operations, or are working
off its activities; in closely related areas of bioscience—group 2.
• Create millions of dollars in high value added export Dedicated biotechnology companies - Group 1
There are 63 dedicated biotechnology companies
Monash Institutes of Health and the International Centre in Victoria which accounts for one-third of Australia’s
for Science Technology and Emerging Industries 185 dedicated biotechnology companies (October 2000).
In parallel with Bio21 is the development of Monash The March 2001 Deloitte Biotech Index showed Victoria
Institutes of Health and the International Centre for accounted for 21 of the 53 (40%) companies listed on the
Science Technology and Emerging Industries. Here the ASX, and 52% of market capitalisation. A further four
biomedical, health sciences, information technologies and Victorian companies have publicly indicated their intention
other physical sciences are linked in a major expansion to list this year.
with industry. With ties to Southern Health and its network
Between the start of 1998 and April 2000, the four The remaining biotechnology companies are small,
companies listed on Australian stock exchanges collectively operating in a research-intensive early growth phase
raised almost A$30 million. of business and within a wide spectrum of industry areas.
In the past 18 months, biotechnology companies listed Table 8 outlines the sectors in which Victoria’s
on the ASX have fared, as a group, better than the major biotechnology companies operate. The major focus
listed companies in traditional sectors. The Deloitte Biotech of developments is in the pharmaceuticals and health area.
Index strongly outperformed the All Ordinaries Index
throughout 1999 and the first half of 2000.
Table 8: Dedicated biotechnology companies by sector Diagnostics (various)
Pharmaceuticals Checkmeat Trace Scientific Limited
AMRAD Corporation Cytopia Pty Ltd Epitope Technologies Pty Ltd Prostate & Diagnostics Pty Ltd
Pulmosonix Pty Ltd
Anadis Limited* ExGenix Ltd
Platform Technologies (several sectors)
Analytica Ltd * Ilexus Pty Ltd
Copyrat Pty Ltd Tridan Limited
Arthron Limited McFarlane Laboratories
Pty Ltd Ingenix Pty Ltd
Aus Bio Limited Metabolic Pharmaceuticals Vaccine Technologies Pty Ltd
Limited* Veterinary Therapeutics
Autogen Limited* MuriGen Pty Ltd Alpharma Animal Health Intervet Australia Pty Limited
Avax Australia Pty Limited Pharma Pacific Pty Ltd Pty Ltd
Biomolecular Research Prana Biotechnology Ltd* Bioproperties (Australia) Vet Biosearch Pty Ltd
Institute Limited Pty Ltd
Bioproperties (Australia) Starpharma Pooled CSL Limited*
Pty Ltd Development Ltd* Agriculture / Food
Biota Holdings Limited* Syngene Ltd Access Genetics Pty Ltd Hexima Limited
Cervax Pty Limited Thrombogenix Pty Limited Checkmeat Nugrain Pty Ltd
Circadian Technologies Virax Holdings Limited* Cognis Australia Pty Ltd Seed Grain Biotechnology
Limited* Australia Pty Ltd
CSL Limited* Florigene Limited
Diagnostics (human) Reproductive Technologies
Mabtech Limited Thrombogenix Pty Limited Genetics Australia Monash Reproductive
Syngene Ltd Ilexus Pty Ltd Co-operative Limited Pathology and Genetics
Tissue and Cell Engineering
Producer of Biologicals
Bio Nova International Mercy Tissue Engineering
Pty Ltd Pty Ltd Auspep Pty Ltd Nerang Biotechnology
ES Cell Australia Ltd Stem Cell Sciences Limited
CSL Limited* Silenus Labs Pty Ltd
Ilexus Pty Ltd
Mimotopes Pty Ltd Tocovite Pty Ltd
Moregate Exports Pty Ltd Trace Scientific Limited
GeneScan Australia Pty Ltd Genetic Technologies Ltd*
Natraherbal Pty Ltd
GeneType Pty Ltd Simons GeneType
Diagnostics Pty Ltd Other
Biomed Investments Limited EpiTan Limited
Clean TeQ Pty Ltd Pelston Pty Ltd
• * denotes listed on ASX.
• A few start-up companies opted not to be included in this listing
due to their early stage of development.
• Some companies are listed in more than one sector.
biotechnology in australia and victoria
Nearly two-thirds of the 63 dedicated biotechnology Figure 3: Location of Group 1 Dedicated
companies commenced operations during the decade Biotechnology Companies
1991–2000, and almost half since the beginning of 1996
(data does not include companies which are no longer
trading). Between the start of 1999 and September 2000,
eighteen dedicated biotechnology enterprises commenced
activity in Victoria, representing 29% of Victoria’s Group 1 WA 13%
companies (figure 2).
Figure 2: Victorian Biotechnology Companies.
No. of Companies
No. of Companies
30 6 NSW 28%
When compared with the rest of Australia, Victoria
is notably strong in Group 1 health biotechnology
companies, with 32 of a total of 78 (41% of the health-
focused group). This emphasis reflects Victoria’s strengths
in health and medical research (figure 4).
1992 & after
Year of commencement
Victoria accounts for one-third of Australia’s Group 1
biotech companies, New South Wales accounts for 28%,
and the combined contribution of the remaining three
mainland States—Western Australia, South Australia and
Queensland—accounts for 32% of Group 1 companies
(Figure 3). Victoria has 47% more Group 1 companies per
capita than the rest of Australia
Figure 4: Major focus of Group 1 Dedicated Kryocor Pty Ltd Vita Life Sciences Limited
Biotechnology Companies - Victoria (Vita Health)*
compared with rest of Australia
Vitapharm Research Pty Ltd
Victoria Australia Agriculture / Food
Several Sections 9.5% Biologicals Other 11.0%
Biologicals 6.0% Ag-Seed Research Pty Ltd Micronized Foods Pty Ltd
Veterinary Aventis Cropscience Pty Ltd Monsanto Australia Limited
6.3% Several Sections
Bioplasma Australia Nufarm Limited*
Testing 4.8% Veterinary Boulevarde Nurseries Nutrihealth Pty Ltd
Mildura Pty Ltd
Health 14.0% Genetic
Brewtech Pty Ltd Valley Seeds Proprietary
Other companies with major biotechnology interests - Halcyon Proteins Pty Ltd Yakult Australia Pty Ltd
Group 2 Henderson Seed Group Pty Ltd
There are many companies that have significant life science In vitro Fertilisation (Health)
involvement as part of their spectrum of activity, or are
operating in closely related areas, typically bioscience Melbourne IVF Pty Ltd Monash IVF Pty Ltd
instrumentation, biomaterials, chemistry, pharmaceuticals Veterinary
or medicine. These are listed in Table 9.
Jurox Pty Ltd Vitapharm Research Pty Ltd
Table 9: Victorian Group 2 companies
EcoEarth Technologies Rio Tinto Limited*
Acrux Limited Medical Industrial Group
Pty Ltd Environmental Biotech
(Systems) Pty. Limited
Bioactive Enhancement Mondo Medical Ltd
Technologies Aust. Pty Ltd Biologicals, Nutraceuticals, Complementary Medicines
Bristol-Myers Squibb Norwood Abbey Ltd* Australian Botanical Nutrition Care
Australia Pty Ltd Products Pty Ltd Pharmaceuticals Pty Ltd
ClinTrials Research Pty Ltd Optiscan Imaging Limited* Bonlac Foods Limited* R P Scherer Holdings
Compumedics Sleep Pty Ltd PharmAction Holdings Ltd*
Corryong Essential Oils Solagran Limited
Faulding Pharmaceuticals P.P.D. Development Pty Ltd Pty. Limited
(part of FH Faulding Ltd)
Felton Grimwade VicMint Partners Pty Ltd
Felton Grimwade Sigma Pharmaceuticals & Bickford Pty Ltd
& Bickford Pty Ltd Pty Ltd*
Herbworx Corporation Pty Ltd Vita Life Sciences
GlaxoSmithKline(GSK) Solagran Limited Limited (Vita Health)*
Marine Biotechnology Vitapharm Research Pty Ltd
Institute of Drug Technology Soltec Research Pty Ltd International Pty Ltd
Australia Limited* (Part of F Faulding & Co)
Kendle Pty Limited
biotechnology in australia and victoria
Equipment Table 10: Deloitte Biotechnology Index – March 2001
Axon Instruments, Inc.* Grale Scientific Pty Ltd No of Companies Market % of
Registered Capitalisation Index
Biotechnic Pty Ltd Optiscan Imaging Limited*
in State $m
Compumedics Sleep Pty Ltd Vision Instruments Limited
VIC 21 7,519 52.24
G.B.C. Scientific Vita Life Sciences Limited
NSW 13 3,394 23.59
Equipment Pty Ltd (Vita Medical Limited)*
WA 9 201 1.39
SA 3 214 1.49
Albright & Wilson Microtech Laboratories
(Australia) Ltd Pty Ltd QLD 4 162 1.12
Applied Chemicals Monne International Pty Ltd International 3 2,901 20.16
Total 53 14,390 99.99
Australian Ocean Perseverance Corporation
Biotechnology Pty Ltd Limited* Scientific instrumentation
EMI Consulting Vacctech Limited Biotechnology is a key and emerging source of demand
Services Pty Ltd in medical and scientific instrumentation sectors. In
Australia, the market size for the Professional, Scientific,
Medical and Surgical (PSMS) instrumentation segment
• * denotes listed on ASX.
was approximately $3.4 billion in 1997/1998, with Victoria
• A few start-up companies opted not to be included in this listing
accounting for $300 million of Australia’s combined
due to their early stage of development.
turnover of $950 million. In 1997/1998 more than 2,300
• Some companies are listed in more than one sector.
people were employed in the PSMS instrumentation
The biotechnology and bioscience activities of nearly half segment in Victoria, representing 28% of national
of these Group 2 companies fall into the health area. employment in the sector.
A closer look at the health companies reveals that about
A crucial factor for competitiveness of the PSMS
40% are in pharmaceuticals. Local and multinational
manufacturing industry is access to, and spending
pharmaceutical companies make an important contribution
commitments for research and development. The
in this area. Victorian industry contributes more than
world-class research in Victoria provides the scientific
40% of the national turnover in human use
instrumentation industry with substantial exposure to new
pharmaceuticals which was estimated at $5 billion
technology and product innovation. The Australian-owned,
in the financial year 1997–98.
ASX-listed, Silicon Valley-based company Axon
Deloitte Biotechnology Index Instruments, Inc., for example, is a world leader in
genomics instrumentation with its GenePix microarray
The Deloitte Biotechnology Index which is released
scanner. Axon Instruments was originally developed
quarterly provides an assessment of life sciences
by Melbourne’s Circadian Technologies Limited group,
companies listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.
and the company’s software engineering development
The index includes both group 1 and group 2 companies
is headed by its Melbourne subsidiary.
listed above. The most recent index was released in March
2001 (Table 10). The 21 Victorian companies listed on the
index accounted for 52% of its market capitalisation. The
index was dominated by CSL Ltd which accounted for
37.85% of its value.
Agricultural production and food Dairy
processing Milk production in Australia increased at an average annual
growth rate of nearly 7% through the 1990s. Victoria has
A key component of the development of the overall
been leading this increase to become Australia’s most
Biotechnology Strategic Plan has been a focus on the
significant dairy State, producing 63% of the national milk
agricultural production and food processing sectors.
production and more than 80% of Australia’s dairy exports.
This focus builds on strengths in Victoria’s production
This activity sustains 13,500 dairy farm businesses, plus
and research base.
an additional 100,000 Australians involved in the
The AgriFood sector has a long and successful history manufacturing, processing, distribution and export of milk
(since 1857) of investment in research and development products. The dairy industry is currently undergoing major
to increase competitiveness. Research and development changes with deregulation, requiring further innovation
has underpinned the annual productivity growth rate across to maintain its competitiveness.
the agriculture sector of 2.1% generating an extra $205
million (GSP) per annum for Victoria. This compares
favourably with the productivity growth rate for the whole The farm gate gross value of production for Victorian
economy of 1.3%. produced fruit (including grapes) exceeds $500 million
per year. Victorian exports of fruit and wine are valued in
Capabilities in agricultural production and food processing
the order of $250 million per year and have been growing
biotechnology can be divided into three stages along
rapidly. Victoria produces 80% of the nation’s pears, and
a continuum: discovery—conversion—delivery.
is the major potato producing state in Australia with current
• Discovery comprises a range of platform technologies Victorian exports of potatoes valued at $7.6 million.
such as microarrays and bioinformatics used in genomics A recent decline in fresh market production in some
programs to both isolate genes and ascribe functionality traditional regions has been partly offset by expansion
to them; of production along the Murray River, the Victoria–South
Australia border region, and East Gippsland, with further
• Conversion describes the cell transformation increases expected.
technologies used to generate transgenic plants and
animals; and Oilseeds
• Delivery involves the plant and animal breeding programs The major world producers of canola are Canada, the
which use the genetically modified germplasm to European Union, other countries in Western Europe
produce new varieties and types of plants and animals and Australia. During the 1990s, Australia has become
for evaluation prior to distribution to industry. the world’s third largest exporter of canola seed
(~2 mega-tonnes per year). A strong biotechnology
Acknowledgment of existing capabilities on this continuum and canola germplasm-based partnership has developed
and the building of relationships to address gaps have between Victoria and Canada through joint programs with
been important components of the development of the the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool and Agriculture Canada
agriculture and food processing biotechnology strategy. at Saskatoon, as well as variety development programs
Victoria has a strong position in agricultural production and with both Aventis and Monsanto.
associated food processing industries based on:
• dairy, and other animal-based enterprises;
• broadacre crops, especially canola, pulses and cereals;
• horticultural industries, especially vegetables, pome fruits,
Currently, the majority of relevant biotechnology research
is focused on the dairy, horticulture and oilseed industries
due to their importance to the Victorian economy.
biotechnology in australia and victoria
Pulses Food processing
The gross value of production of faba beans, field peas, The food processing sector has a value of production
lupins, chickpeas, vetches and lentils in Victoria is of more than $14 billion per year and, combined with
$146 million, which is 25% of Australia’s total. Victoria agriculture, is Victoria’s largest industry. Exports of food
can become a leading supplier to Asian markets, providing and fibre products total $5.5 billion per year, and represent
that disease constraint and market demands can be met. over 30% of the State’s export earnings. Exports have
Victoria has also developed a leading position in pulse more than doubled since 1992, and more than $2.5 billion
germplasm development and agronomic support, has been invested in food processing in Victoria in the
in association with CLIMA in Western Australia, and same period. This is reflected in the productivity gain of
is developing capabilities in pulse plant biotechnology. 47% achieved by the sector. Regional Victoria has 42% of
Given the growing interest in North America in pulses food manufacturing jobs, or 21% of the rural workforce,
as a new crop, and the large traditional market of India, and many other jobs are directly linked to the food industry,
there is a major opportunity for Victoria to develop a world including chemical suppliers, packaging and transport.
leadership position in the areas of pulse crop development
The major sectors are dairy ($4 billion), fruit and vegetable
and production. This will require developing the application
processing ($1.5 billion), and meat ($2 billion) while beer,
of biotechnology, particularly in the areas of disease
malt, wine, confectionery, and general food processing
resistance and improving nutritional aspects (functional
are also very important categories.
Traditional and modern biotechnology are essential
Production of genetically modified crops
to production of many foods and beverages. Modern
Only three agricultural biotechnology products have been biotechnology is applied in enzyme production and food
commercially released into the environment in Australia. processing aids, which are used in the production
These are insect resistant cotton, and the violet coloured of foods such as cheese and beer.
and long-shelf-life carnations. None of these crops
is currently commercially grown in Victoria. Australian
Government approval for the commercial release of
herbicide resistant (‘Roundup Ready’) cotton was also
granted in September 2000. Contained and small and
large scale field trials are currently underway on a number
of agricultural and food applications, some of which
are located in Victoria.
Soyabean and foods containing genetically modified
products may be imported into Australia.
actions to develop biotechnology in victoria
Vision: By 2010 Victoria is recognised Clusters allow participants to benefit as if they were larger
internationally as one of the world’s top five or as if they had joined with others formally—without being
biotechnology locations for the vibrancy of its required to sacrifice flexibility. Clusters drive the direction
industry and quality of its research. and pace of innovation. This in turn stimulates the
formation of new businesses that expand and strengthen
Successful development of a biotechnology industry
the cluster itself, thus creating a virtuous cycle of
requires resources, skills and expertise well beyond the
innovation and company formation.
capacity of an individual institution or company.
Internationally recognised centres of excellence—Boston, The whole of Melbourne with links to key regional centres
Silicon Valley, Cambridge and Martensried—all involve provides the hub of Victoria’s biotechnology cluster.
clusters of universities, research institutions, commercial
companies, with an active financial sector, and generally
with a supportive government.
Clusters such as those mentioned above are increasingly
being regarded as a key component of economic growth
and development. These are geographic concentrations
of interconnected companies, specialised suppliers,
service providers, firms in related industries and associated
institutions (e.g. universities, standard agencies and
industry associations) in particular fields that compete
but also cooperate, providing critical mass which goes
beyond the resources of the individual components
(Porter, The competitive advantage of nations, 1990).
Table 11: Critical factors for biotechnology cluster development
Strong science base Leading edge science (basic, applied and clinical research), academic entrepreneurs,
and a critical mass of research activity provides the life blood of biotechnology clusters.
• Leading research organisations: universities, research institutes, teaching hospitals
• Critical mass of researchers
• World leading scientists
• Good intellectual property management systems
Ability to attract key Biotechnology companies must be able to attract the best management and scientific staff
staff from overseas and larger companies.
• Image/reputation as biotechnology cluster
• Attractive place to live
• Share options
Premises and Biotechnology companies require specialist premises with leasing arrangements flexible
infrastructure enough to meet their changing needs.
• Incubators available close to research organisations
• Space to expand, good transport links: roads, rail, international airport
actions to develop biotechnology in victoria
Skilled workforce Access to skilled scientific and technical workforce is a key to the development
of biotechnology companies.
• Partnerships between industry and training organisations to identify and fill skills gaps
Effective networking Regional biotechnology associations provide opportunities for companies, researchers
and others to meet and exchange ideas and promote biotechnology in the region.
• Shared aspiration to be a cluster
• Shared equipment and infrastructure
• Frequent collaborations
Availability of finance Biotechnology companies are often dependent on venture and other capital to support them
for substantial periods of time.
Entrepreneurial culture Commercial awareness and entrepreneurship is apparent in universities
and research institutes.
• Role models and recognition of entrepreneurs
• Second generation entrepreneurs
Growing company base Clusters need thriving start-ups as well as more mature companies that can act
as role models.
Business support Clusters are in proximity to specialist business, legal, intellectual property, recruitment
services and property advisers.
Large companies Clusters feature large companies in related sectors, e.g. pharmaceuticals, chemical,
food processing and agriculture.
• Provision of management expertise, partnering opportunities and customers of
Supportive policy Public policy cannot create clusters; they must be industry driven. Governments do create
environment the conditions that encourage and facilitate cluster formation and growth.
• National and sectoral innovation support policies
• Proportionate fiscal and regulatory framework
• Support from economic development agencies – skills, planning, supply chain and inward
• Research and analysis
Biotechnology Clusters: Report of a team led by Lord Sainsbury, Minister for Science August 1999.
Victorian biotechnology already has many of these Five key areas for action
preconditions. For example, we have a strong research
The Strategic Plan identifies five key areas for action
base in many biotechnology-related fields and we have a
to develop Victoria as a leading biotechnology cluster:
rapidly growing company base. Many of these capabilities
are located in research and education precincts. Australia’s 1. Developing a biotechnology skill base: building a pool
largest pharmaceutical company is located in Victoria as of skilled people in science, product development and
well as a number of subsidiaries of international commercialisation.
pharmaceutical and agricultural life sciences companies.
2. Developing Victoria’s research base: providing
To create a vibrant biotechnology cluster and achieve the opportunities for growth in science and research
vision of establishing Victoria as one of the world’s top five infrastructure.
biotechnology locations we must build on this base. There
is a need to encourage better networking and sharing of 3. Commercialising Victoria’s biotechnology: developing
facilities and infrastructure within and across institutions a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship where
and industry. There is a need to develop an entrepreneurial clever research can be successfully taken to market.
culture that recognises and encourages achievements in 4. Building our corporate base and marketing our
business just as it does academic success. Partnerships capabilities: encouraging growth of existing
with international pharmaceutical and life sciences biotechnology companies and investment by local
companies are important, and so is securing our and international firms.
intellectual property. There is also a need to extend the
finance options available to early phase biotechnology 5. Providing Government leadership and support:
companies. Providing leadership to the Victorian community, and
research and industry sectors to develop biotechnology
The Biotechnology Strategic Development Plan for Victoria for the benefit of Victoria in a framework where safety
seeks to build a world recognised biotechnology cluster. and ethical consideration are intrinsic to that development.
The Strategic Plan identifies five key areas for action.
1. development of the biotechnology skill base
Objective: To build Victoria’s biotechnology Many of our most talented graduates seek work
capability through investment in people and skills. opportunities overseas. This ‘brain drain’ is regarded
by some as a flight of intellectual capital and a loss of
A key aspect of the new economy is the need for lifelong
investment. However, if this flight is temporary then Victoria
learning of both codified knowledge and the competencies
will benefit from the skills, experience and knowledge
to use it. Scientific endeavour has for centuries embraced
gained overseas when our experienced graduates return.
the concept of lifelong learning. The building of a
biotechnology-based industry requires the rapid Given the international competition for talent, Victoria
development of new skills in management and must identify talented expatriate Australians in business
commercialisation among the entrepreneurially inclined and research, match them to job opportunities and work
scientists and the attraction of people trained in other to bring them home to Victoria. We must also facilitate the
disciplines to work in biotechnology. The long-term health migration of people from other nations who can contribute
of the biotechnology sector will depend on attracting to building our biotechnology research and industry base.
and developing a talented workforce. Establishing Victoria as a leader in biotechnology requires
access to world class scientists and innovators.
Ernst & Young has estimated that human resources
required in core biotechnology companies in Australia will Biotechnology offers a wide range of career opportunities.
increase from less than 4,000 in 1998–99 to about 6,000 These must be marketed to school children and their
in 2000–01. This is a 50% increase in two years and the parents so that our brightest students pursue studies
trends so far indicate that the industry will grow at a similar in fields of science and technology.
rate in the future. The ability to find skilled people for
University courses need to be designed to meet the
biotechnology companies has the potential to be a growth-
multidisciplinary needs of the sector. This is particularly
limiting factor for the industry. The biotechnology sector in
true in emerging fields like bioinformatics requiring
Australia and internationally is already experiencing skills
a combination of mathematics, statistics, information
shortages in fields such as bioinformatics, chemistry,
technology and molecular biology. Many of the
product development and commercialisation.
biotechnology courses at Victoria’s tertiary institutes are
The National Innovation Summit Implementation Group discipline-based and direct their best students towards
in its report Innovation–Unlocking the Future identified a career in research. The skills required within
skills shortages for graduates in fields such as chemistry, biotechnology companies are distinctly different from
mathematics, physics and information technology. The those within academic institutes. Training in product
Group commented that ‘Such skills shortages will affect development, regulation, commercialisation, intellectual
the capacity of business to carry out research and property protection, information technology and business
development and to conduct knowledge-based activity and are as important as knowledge of biotechnology-based
will be a significant constraint on investment in vital areas sciences for graduates entering biotechnology companies.
of the new economy.’ It recommended that funding from Courses covering some of these areas are available
Government and business be provided for 2,000 additional in various universities; however, these need to be
university places in 2002 increasing to 5,470 by 2005. coordinated to facilitate access. Such facilitation would
enable students to ‘mix and match’ courses according
Rapid growth in the number of new ventures in this
to their career and specialisation preferences and it would
industry sector is leading to shortages of appropriately
also increase the efficiency with which teaching skills
skilled financial analysts. Management skills for small high
in certain developing areas (such as bioinformatics)
growth companies are also in short supply.
We need Australians trained in drug development by the
major pharmaceutical companies. We also need people
with skills in animal efficacy trialing, toxicology,
pharmacokinetics, human safety studies and early human
efficacy studies .
• Identify required skills: Establish a Biotechnology Skills • Increase the number of biotechnology analysts:
Taskforce to identify critical areas of need and develop The Victorian Government will work with venture
strategies to mitigate and avoid shortages of skills capital and finance sectors to increase the number
in these. The Taskforce will: of biotechnology analysts, including encouraging the
creation of cadetships for people with biotechnology-
- comprise people from research, the education sector
based postgraduate degrees to learn about venture
capital and financial analysis.
- commission studies into the skills required to build
a biotechnology industry;
- commission studies into the extent to which
the Victorian (and Australian) education and
training systems can provide the required skills
and identify gaps;
- make recommendations on the need for a coordinating
mechanism to facilitate access to relevant courses
across the national system.
• Provide information on careers in biotechnology:
A Science Careers and Courses web site will be
established through the STI Initiative to provide on-line
science career and course information. The web site
will be aimed at secondary and tertiary students and their
parents, science teachers and careers advisers. It will
deliver career profiles, course maps and information
and links to industry and professional organisations.
The site is scheduled for completion during 2001.
• Gene Technology Access Centre (GTAC):
GTAC will be a world-class biotechnology education
facility located near Bio21, providing workshops for
teachers and students on DNA protocols, DNA
manipulation and bioinformatics.
• Bring research and commercialisation leaders
to Victoria: The Victorian Government will work
with universities, research institutes and industry
groups to attract leaders in biotechnology research
and its development and commercialisation to Victoria.
• Federation Fellowships:
The Government has announced funding of up to
$500,000 each to support successful Federation
Fellowship recipients based in Victoria.
2. developing victoria’s biotechnology research base
Objective: To build Victoria’s biotechnology Globally competitive platform
capability through investment and access to
research infrastructure. technologies
The fundamental building block that underpins biotechnology Modern biotechnology is underpinned by advances
is the science base. Relative to the rest of Australia Victoria in ‘platform technologies’. The key platforms which
has significant strengths in health and medical research are currently driving biotechnology advances come from
winning over 40% of NHMRC grants. Analysis of genomic research (research into the genetic material
Australian Research Council large grants suggests that of organisms) and related disciplines including functional
Victoria’s universities also have strengths in botany, genomics, structural genomics, proteomics and bioinformatics.
biochemistry, cell biology, genetics and chemical engineering. These technologies are DNA sequencers, polymerase
Victoria is Australia’s leading location for dairy research chain reaction (PCR) machines and micro-array and DNA
and there are research strengths in pasture grasses. chip technologies. Fermentation and separation
Victoria also has capabilities in information technology, technologies are also underpinning platforms that are
the physical sciences, and the materials sciences such essential for the application of biotechnology in many
as nanotechnology and bioengineering, which interface industry sectors. A synchrotron is a platform for structural
with the biomedical and biotechnology industries. biology and rational drug design research, while also
While domestic benchmarks are important Australia must providing research infrastructure for a number of other
compete in the global biotechnology development market. scientific fields of endeavour. One of Victoria’s greatest
International measures are therefore important—publications strengths in platform technologies is in its pioneering structural
and citation rates, patents awarded and the ability to win biology work, e.g. x-ray crystallography. Victoria is well
international grants and contract research. placed to capture the real value of genome projects
The Federal Government’s Chief Scientist recently reported through the rational design of drugs for human and animal
(The Chance to Change, Report by the Chief Scientist, health based on this technology.
November 2000) that after adjusting for the relative size Access to key platform technologies is crucial to the future
of Australia’s science system, Australia leads the world in competitiveness of Victoria’s biotechnology research effort.
terms of the impact of its research in medical and biological In a rapidly developing field like biotechnology there is
sciences (Katz, J.S., Scale-independent indicators and a constant requirement for new and better equipment.
research evaluation, p. 31).
Maintaining the leading edge in infrastructure is beyond the
Victoria and Australia must continue to build strength into financial capacity of most institutions and increasingly there
our science base. The Victorian Government is providing will be a need to cooperate in order to remain current. Critical
significant support through the $310 million Science mass can be built through shared facilities that ensure wide
Technology and Innovation Initiative. The Federal Government access for the research community. Victoria has had access
has increased its support for health and medical research to a range of genome research capabilities through the
but annual investment remains below world average as a Australian Genome Research Facility located at the Walter
percentage of gross domestic product. and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI) (see box).
The report The Chance to Change released by the Chief Platform technologies are important across all sectors
Scientist provided sound recommendations to the Federal
of biotechnology and, if they are supplied in a collaborative
Government that significant change is required in Australia’s
science, engineering and technology support if we are to way, provide a mechanism to bridge the gap between
remain competitive in the knowledge-based economy. This medical, agricultural and other biotechnology researchers.
is confirmed by Innovation—Unlocking the Future, the final The research community has identified the need for new
report of the Innovation Summit Implementation Group investment in platform technologies and has the skills
(August 2000). Backing Australia’s Abilities, the national and competencies to apply in the following areas:
innovation strategy announced in January 2001, picked up bioinformatics, microarray technologies, proteomics
many of the recommendations with positive actions to and fermentation scale-up capacity. There is also strong
enhance CRC and ARC grants and to establish world
support nationally for the establishment of a synchrotron
class centres of excellence for biotechnology.
The Australian Genome Research Facility (AGRF) Actions
Australia’s participation in the biotechnology
• Platform Technology Steering Group: Establish
revolution has been greatly facilitated by the
a biotechnology platform technology steering group
creation of the Australian Genome Research
to identify cutting-edge platform technologies and
Facility (AGRF), a highly automated laboratory for
develop strategies to ensure Victorian research
gene analysis. The facility was established in 1998,
organisations and industry have access to these.
with a $10 million grant from the Commonwealth’s
Major National Research Fund and has two • Microarray technology: Enhance access to microarray
branches, one at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute technology capabilities through the establishment of the
and the other at the University of Queensland. Victorian Microarray Technology Consortium.
The AGRF centrepiece is a sophisticated robotics • Bioinformatics: Support the establishment of the
system capable of dramatically increasing the Victorian Bioinformatics Consortium to build
throughput of DNA samples. The system carries out bioinformatics research, development and training.
all the menial steps that are involved in preparing DNA
samples for analysis. This system is supported by • Proteomics: The establishment of a proteomics facility
banks of machines (polymerase chain reaction (PCR) as part of the Bio21 development.
machines) which then amplify the DNA of interest • Synchrotron: Provide funding support for the National
so that there are sufficient quantities to determine Synchrotron Feasibility Study and work with local
accurately which genes are present. High throughput research and industry groups to secure the Australian
sequencing machines are then used to identify the Synchrotron for Victoria.
precise sequence of the DNA and consequently
the genes contained in the samples. Bioinformatics • Fermentation: Commission a feasibility study into the
programs available at the AGRF are central to establishment of shared scale-up fermentation facilities,
analysing and interpreting the data generated. including identification of existing capacity in Victoria
and Australia and current and projected demand for
The AGRF offers genetic analytical services for scale-up facilities.
Australia and the Southeast Asian region. The focus
of the Melbourne branch is on genotyping and • Major National Research Facilities (MNRF):
mutation detection. Genotyping involves identification The Victorian Government will encourage the
of regions of DNA called microsatellite markers, which establishment of MNRF in biotechnology in Victoria.
can be used to identify genes involved in disease.
Mutation detection will have extensive clinical
applications, and will form the cornerstone of many
future diagnostic tests. The Queensland branch
houses the headquarters of AGRF and provides DNA
2. developing victoria’s biotechnology research base
Health and medical research receive competitively obtained, peer-reviewed research
grants from the National Health and Medical Research
Victoria is Australia’s leading location for health and Council and other recognised sources. Current funding
medical research. Our research institutes, related hospitals is $12.3 million per year. The support assists these
and universities are very successful at competing for domestic research organisations with administrative overheads and
and international grants. The Victorian Government has with recurrent infrastructure needs.
supported key aspects of our health and medical research
base, including: The Virtuous Cycle—Health and Medical Research Strategic
Review 1999 (1999 Report of the Health and Medical Research
• Victorian Breast Cancer Research Consortium: Strategic Review prepared for the Commonwealth Government)
Established in 1997, the Victorian Breast Cancer called for a nationally consistent approach to infrastructure
Research Consortium involves specialist scientists funding for medical organisations. Over recent years other
and breast cancer clinicians from nine institutions State Governments—in particular New South Wales and
across Melbourne. The Victorian Government provides Queensland—have increased infrastructure support to medical
funding of $3 million per year to the consortium. research institutes. It has been argued during the development
• Brain Imaging Research Institute: a grant of $3 million of this strategy that unless comparable funding levels are provided
to assist with the 3T MRI facility which is at the forefront to Victorian research institutes then Victoria’s leadership in
in helping to understand how the human brain works. medical research will decline because Victorian institutes will
This facility will underpin Victoria’s strong neurosciences be at a competitive disadvantage.
research base. Actions
• Alfred Medical Research and Education Precinct: • Research Infrastructure Support Funding: The
$12.6 million funding towards the establishment of this Strategic Health Research Investment Committee
world class precinct which will bring together two major (SHRIC) and the Department of Human Services are
medical research institutes—the Baker, and the reviewing Victoria’s operational infrastructure support
Macfarlane Burnett Centre—with the Alfred Hospital for health and medical research and continue to present
and Monash University School of Medicine. their findings and recommendations to the Victorian
• Bio21: $50 million in support for Bio21, the major Minister for Health.
development at Parkville, which will also support other • Murdoch Childrens Research Institute: Through the
areas of biotechnology in addition to health and medical STI Initiative the Government will provide $4.9 million
research (see ‘Bio21’ under ‘Biotechnology in Australia for refurbishment of a number of floors of the Royal
and Victoria’, p. 20). Children’s Hospital to provide expanded research
• Monash Institutes of Health and the International laboratories, space for start-up companies and facilitate
Centre for Science Technology and Emerging clinical trials.
Industries: In parallel with Bio21 is the development of • Alfred Medical Research and Education Precinct:
Monash Institutes of Health and the International Centre Through the STI Initiative the Government will provide
for Science Technology and Emerging Industries. Here a further $8 million to facilitate the completion of
the biomedical, health sciences, information technologies Stages I and II of the Alfred Medical Research and
and other physical sciences are linked in a major Education Precinct development.
expansion with industry. With ties to Southern Health and
its network of hospitals, the six major biomedical • NeuroSciences Victoria: Through the STI Initiative the
research institutes that comprise the Monash Institutes of Government will provide support of $13.34 million
Health will provide unique resources to collaborating for the establishment of the NeuroSciences Victoria
industrial partners and start-up companies. The close consortium. The consortium will coordinate and focus on
linkages to genomics, information technology, materials neuroscience research and has the potential to attract
science and bioengineering at this site provide significant international investment to Victoria.
opportunities to commercial interests. • Biomedical Research Cluster: Provide support of
While there has been new investment, the demands of the $2 million to establish a fully integrated biomedical
biotechnology age and the increases in research funding research cluster at Monash University.
available from the National Health and Medical Research • Austin & Repatriation Medical Centre (A&RMC): A
Council and international granting bodies is creating new $320m redevelopment of the A&RMC was announced by
research infrastructure needs. There is a high demand the State Government in August 2000 with $15m in matching
from biotechnology companies for commercial research funds for the redevelopment of the research precinct.
space within research precincts. There is also a strong
desire to build linkages both within and between research • Centres of Excellence: Victoria will work to win one
organisations and precincts. of the national Biotechnology Centres of Excellence
announced by the Prime Minister in the national
The Department of Human Services provides operational innovation strategy.
infrastructure funding support to research institutes that
Agricultural production and food Within each of these areas, there are existing capabilities
across a number of organisations. Highly focused
processing integration of effort is needed. Of equal importance is the
One of the world’s most significant challenges is to critical need for increased access to new technologies
increase food production while ensuring that production and people skilled in new critical sciences. These have
systems are sustainable and do not contribute to translated into a series of actions outlined below.
degradation of land and water resources. Biotechnology
has emerged as one of the most promising platforms to Actions
address this situation. The AgriFood sector has a long and • Plant biotechnology: Through the STI Initiative provide
successful history (since 1857) of investment in research support of $7.8 million for the establishment of a Plant
and development to increase competitiveness. Research Biosciences facility providing science and commercial
and development has underpinned the annual productivity and business incubation space for the agricultural
growth rate across the agriculture sector of 2.1 per cent, biotechnology sector at Bundoora. This development will
generating an extra $205 million (GSP) per year for be linked to regional nodes at Hamilton, Horsham and
The Victorian scientific community and industry have held a • Emerging Food Process Technology Centre: Through
number of consultative focus groups to identify major the STI Initiative provide support of $3.08 million to
priority strategic areas for Victoria. These are outlined in establish a new Emerging Food Processing Technology
detail in AgBio21, a strategy for the development of Centre at Food Sciences Australia to enable the food
agriculture and food biotechnology. The major areas of industry to evaluate advanced food processing
focus for Victoria in AgriFood biotechnology were technologies.
• Australian Starter Culture Research Centre: Through
• Plant genomics: enabling technologies (gene discovery, the STI Initiative provide support of $320,000 towards
functional genomics plant breeding) for improved the purchase of equipment to prepare pellets of lactic
productivity, quality and nutrition traits in pasture, canola, acid bacteria for cheese, wine and fermented meat
pulse and horticulture; products.
• Dairy genomics: enabling technologies for the targeted • Establish an Australian Animal Genome Research
application of improved genetics to livestock
Facility: The Government will work with industry,
improvement for enhanced lactation, health and
universities and research organisations to develop an
animal genome research facility focusing initially on dairy,
• Animal pathogen genomics: focused on the bovine and ovine industries. It will also develop a world-
development of specific animal health and vaccine class, integrated, animal pathogen genomics capability.
products to reduce antibiotic use, animal health and
welfare and ensure food safety; • Functional Foods Network: Develop a network of links
between institutions and industry to undertake
• Functional foods: development of a discovery-to-delivery collaborative research into functional food products.
continuum for naturally occurring phyto-chemicals and
anti-microbials that directly impact on human health; • AgBio21: As a subset of the Biotechnology Strategic
Development Plan, a stand-alone plan for agriculture is
• Bioprocessing: applications of fermentation technologies being developed.
for the large-scale production of vaccines and
therapeutics, specific chemicals and food ingredients,
3. commercialising victoria’s biotechnology
Objective: To add value to biotechnology discoveries The key impediments to commercialisation are:
and generate wealth and jobs for Victoria.
• lack of management skills and experience;
Australia has had a poor track record in commercialising
• traditional business culture;
its public research and development (R&D). While there
is widespread awareness of Australia’s under-investment • the investment environment.
in R&D it is only recently that our under-investment
in commercialisation has become evident. For every $75 A comparison between Australia and the United States
spent on R&D in Australia, only $25 is spent on reveals that the most dramatic difference between the
commercialisation. The OECD average is $35 on R&D two economies lies principally with the availability
and $65 on commercialisation. This is an area which of the management skills and experience to drive
the Victorian and Commonwealth Governments have commercialisation. The United States’ economy
sought to address in the past few years. demonstrates substantial commercialisation activity,
particularly in central and southern California, central
There are a number of Australian biotechnology research Texas, the Pacific Northwest, Chicago, Boston and
discoveries that have been commercialised overseas with in the Carolinas. The economic success of these regions
limited returns to the Australian economy. Often cited is underwritten by a large pool of educated, highly skilled
examples include gene shears technology and colony people in a range of disciplines and professions.
stimulating factors. There are, however, commercialisation
successes that provide us with cause for optimism and a The management skills and experience required for
rationale for addressing impediments to commercialisation. successful technology commercialisation include:
When looking at the impediments to biotechnology • a research community that is driven by a commercial
commercialisation it is important to understand that the philosophy;
process is difficult, costly and often entails complex risk • the ability to identify intellectual property with commercial
management issues. It is considered far more difficult than application;
the commercialisation of information and communications
technology or other areas of the new economy. • experience in managing intellectual property
Organisations that are commercialising biotechnology for commercial gain;
discoveries must juggle complex research, product • the strategic management skills and experience
development and clinical and/or field studies with for technology commercialisation;
regulatory requirements. These requirements include
developing an international intellectual property strategy • international marketing skills and experience
and managing international approval processes for trade, for technology commercialisation;
customs, quarantine, therapeutic and GMO regulations. • the ability to package commercial opportunities
Concurrent with these activities the organisation will also for investment;
be seeking funds to finance the process.
• the skills and experience required for minimising
Markets for the application of biotechnology that require and managing technology investment risk;
complex business solutions lend themselves to a product
development strategy in partnership with an established • the skills and experience to manage high growth
firm that will provide funding, know-how, expertise and technologically innovative firms;
an established route to market in exchange for a • technical product development skills and experience.
commensurate share of the returns.
Best practice intellectual property A further complicating factor is the issue of who owns the
intellectual property. Ownership is critical for at least two
management systems reasons. Firstly, it may be a research or corporate entity’s
A recent report Inventing Our Future studied Australian- sole or most valuable asset. Secondly, it may be the asset
originated US patents. The overall data for Australia raised that is most capable of exploitation in return for income.
many issues for concern. The level of patenting in The biotechnology organisation must take an active and
biotechnology and pharmaceuticals showed that Australia focused role in managing ownership of its intellectual
had significant strengths in these fields relative to other property to ensure that it truly owns what it ought to.
technical fields in Australia. Both fields demonstrated Identifying the true inventors for patents is a crucial step
strong growth. Australian-originated US biotechnology in this process.
patents grew at 249% over a ten-year period compared
The National Health and Medical Research Council
to 118% for all US biotechnology patents. While
(NHMRC) has recently released intellectual property
demonstrating a trend in the right direction, this growth
management guidelines for NHMRC-funded organisations.
is not sufficient to place Australia as one of the leading
This is an important development that should be supported.
intellectual property developers on a per capita basis
(See Figure 5). Australia accounts for about 1% of US Action
biotechnology patents and over 4% of articles in the
• Intellectual property systems: The Victorian
international scientific publication Science. As noted above,
Government will work with research institutes and the
after adjusting for the relative size of Australia’s science
finance and legal communities to identify ways to assist
system, Australia leads the world in terms of the impact
the implementation of best practice intellectual property
of its research in medical and biological sciences.
systems in research organisations.
It appears reasonable to conclude that Australia has
strengths in scientific discovery, which are not currently Figure 5: US pharmaceutical, biotechnology and
being translated into exploitable intellectual property. agricultural patents 1994–1998 per
Because of the long development times associated
with many biotechnology discoveries, strong intellectual Pharmaceutical Biotechnology Agriculture
property (IP) positions are paramount. Research
organisations must have high quality IP management 4
systems to capture and protect discoveries. They must 3.5
have access to advice on international as well as domestic
patent systems. Not enough of Victoria’s patent attorneys 3
have the experience to provide the strategic advice 2.5
necessary to create a secure international patent portfolio.
Some of the major issues impacting on international 1.5
biotechnology patent law include the patenting of
expressed sequence tags (ESTs), chimeras and human 1
cell lines, the patenting of indigenous knowledge and the 0.5
problem of biopiracy. These issues indicate that patenting
of biotechnology is a dynamic area of law that will continue
to be influenced by developments in science, public policy
and ethics. Since the major markets for any commercial
product are the United States and Europe, it is crucial that
patent applications originally drafted in Australia are
prepared with these systems in mind. Consequently
keeping up with developments in these countries as well as
our own is vital. Australia’s IP system is generally regarded
as competitive against similar systems overseas. However
a working group at the National Innovation Summit held in
Melbourne, Febuary 2000, found that Australian businesses
need to develop a better understanding of when and how
to protect and commercialise their innovations.
3. commercialising victoria’s biotechnology
Access to finance Technology Commercialisation Program
Finance—or the lack of it—is the most common concern of The Victorian Government’s Technology Commercialisation
researchers as they seek to commercialise. The availability Program (TCP) has been developed to address the
of capital for new ventures has grown significantly over commercialisation of science, technology and innovation.
the past few years. In 1998 venture capital organisations It aims to stimulate the commercialisation of ideas that will
provided $472.9 million of new investment into 217 drive tomorrow’s technology businesses and industries.
investments. This more than doubled in 1999 with
The TCP provides $20 million over the four years to
$971 million in 452 investments. Concerns remain about
2002/03 to support commercialisation of technologies
the availability of proof of concept and seed funding.
concentrating on the market end of the innovation system.
There are a number of initiatives of the Federal Key objectives of the TCP are to develop the
Government that have assisted this expansion, including commercialisation skills base in Victoria, and to foster a
the Pooled Development Fund (PDF), Innovation culture of innovation.
Investment Funds (IIF), Commercialising Emerging
Under the TCP the Victorian Government has contracted a
Technologies Program (COMET) and START. The
number of organisations to deliver professional and high
Commonwealth Government announced as part of
quality business support and development services to start-
the National Biotechnology Strategy the establishment
up technology companies. The service providers have been
of a proof of concept fund for biotechnology.
drawn from within Victoria, interstate and overseas and
It is important that we continue to monitor the development provide a unique combination of skills, experiences and
of seed and venture capital for biotechnology. cultures that will substantially raise the level and
sustainability of technology business activity in Victoria.
The TCP partners provide assistance to start-up
The Victorian Government will stimulate access to finance
technology businesses in a range of areas including, but
for biotechnology commercialisation by:
not limited to, intellectual property management, strategic
• Event sponsorship: continuing to support and sponsor planning, international and domestic market planning and
events such as the Research Innovation and access, personnel management and skills development,
Commercialisation for Health (RICH) and technology management, and investment and finance.
Commercialising Health Innovation Forums;
TCP providers are currently:
• Promotion: promoting the attractiveness of investing
• Australian Innovation Investments are providing
in Victoria’s industries and technologies both within
commercialisation assistance, linked to capital, for the
Victoria and Australia, and internationally;
commercialisation of intellectual property from the State’s
• Investment tools: encouraging the use of effective universities;
investment mechanisms and tools such as PDF
• Melbourne Enterprises International are establishing
and managing an alumnus-based PDF that will invest
• Investment-ready commercialisation programs: in companies commercialising intellectual property from
developing and implementing programs that support the university sector;
and assist with the development of investment-ready
• Freehills Technology Services are operating an
incubation service for intellectual property orphaned
• Information exchanges: facilitating networking and from the corporate sector, recognising that Victoria’s
information exchange between the finance sector, big companies are an important source of innovation
industry and research institutions; in areas of non-core business;
• Biotechnology Innovation Fund: maximising the • E-Merge are operating a virtual incubator via the Internet
opportunity for Victorian access to the new Federal for the support of information and communication
Government proof of concept fund to be established technology;
as part of the National Biotechnology Strategy.
• Anztek in conjunction with Rabobank and Industrial
Research of New Zealand, are operating an intensive
incubation service to develop commercial opportunities,
including accelerated planning and execution of product,
finance and market strategies;
• Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Industry Biocomm International will act as a single point of expertise
(VECCI) are operating an incubation service that to assist with commercialisation. This includes, but is not
supports and assists high technology start-up businesses. limited to:
The VECCI program matches selected businesses with
• the proactive assessment of commercial potential of
private and early stage angel capital. Up to 45 CEOs
projects within participating institutes and identification
from start-up companies will attend executive
of alliance possibilities;
development programs in California and the UK;
• helping prepare a feasibility study or business plan
• Victorian Innovation Centre will relocate to the Centre for
for each project, including research milestones, market
Innovation and Technology Commercialisation
research data and IP support/status;
at 257 Collins Street, Melbourne, and will continue
initial technology commercialisation opportunity • acting as a broker to seed and venture capital and
screening activities; pharmaceutical or biotechnology companies.
• Triton Foundation is establishing its national headquarters The Victorian Government will provide $4 million in funding
in the Centre for Innovation and Technology to Biocomm International over four years.
Commercialisation at 257 Collins Street, Melbourne.
Triton will operate an intensive support and assistance Closely linked to Biocomm International will be Bio21
program for high technology start-up firms that will focus Commercial, which will be an integral component of the
on qualifying and quantifying initial market opportunities. Bio21 development at Parkville. It will assist in the creation
Triton's activities will utilise a range of media including and capture of intellectual property.
telecommunications, the internet and television; Commercialisation of biotechnology needs to be
• Technology Diffusion Coordinators. Through the TCP, considered in an international context. Funding will be
the Government will provide funding for a number of provided through Biocomm International for the recruitment
Technology Diffusion Coordinator positions at Victorian of an international expert to provide advice and facilitate
universities. Initial appointments have been made interactions in North America and Europe.
at Deakin and RMIT Universities. The need for a specialist commercialisation provider
Biocomm International is the TCP provider that has been for the Agrifood biotechnology sector has been identified
established to focus on the commercialisation of Victoria’s during the development of this strategy.
medical biotechnology research. Biocomm International will be a Actions
coordinating office providing a cost-effective opportunity for
participating institutes to access the expertise and resources • Technology Commercialisation Program:
necessary for successful commercialisation of products The Government will continue to support the development
and technologies and management of intellectual property. of a strong innovation culture and commercialisation
It will have a close relationship with a private seed capital through the Technology Commercialisation Program.
fund, which will be able to provide equity for further development • International commercialisation advice and facilitation:
of projects prior to commercial licensing arrangements The Government will continue to provide funding through
being made or venture capital funding being sought. Biocomm International for international experts to provide
strategic advice and linkages into North American
and European markets.
• Agricultural biotechnology commercialisation:
The Government will fund a feasibility study into
the establishment of an agricultural biotechnology
commercialisation vehicle through the Technology
• Strategic commercialisation advice:
The Government has contracted Katan Associates of
Canada to assist with biotechnology commercialisation
policy development and international networking.
3. commercialising victoria’s biotechnology
Encouraging an entrepreneurial culture
Australia is often regarded as training people to be
excellent employees but not employers. In the past,
biotechnology has been no different with high level
researchers reluctant to leave secure posts in universities
or research institutes to follow a technology commercialisation
route. The academic system has discouraged them.
Academic success and grants have been awarded on the
grounds of publications and basic research and so there
were few avenues of return for those who dared to follow
a commercial route. Institutional policies reinforce this culture.
There is now an increasing recognition in our universities,
research institutions and among our academics that the
success of the USA in biotechnology has been driven by
a dynamic interflow of people between the basic research
organisations and industry.
Initiatives such as Bio21, the Alfred Research and
Education Precinct, the Monash Institutes of Health and
the International Centre for Science Technology and
Emerging Industries and the Plant Biosciences facility
where industry researchers will work alongside academic
researchers, will assist in breaking down the barriers. As
more biotechnology firms are established there is likely to
be an increase in exchange of personnel between industry
and research organisations.
• Encourage interactions: Facilitate enhanced interactions
between industry and research organisations through the
AusBiotech Ltd network and research precincts.
• Promote entrepreneurship: Promote the importance of
innovation and commercialisation among scientists and
institutions. Seek the support of AusBiotech Ltd and other
groups to assist this process.
4. building victoria’s corporate base and marketing victoria’s capabilities
Objective: To increase growth and exports of companies in overseas locations, a close proximity between
biotechnology–based products and services by partners helps build and cement these relationships.
proactively facilitating new investment and
An essential part of Victoria’s biotechnology strategy will
promoting Victoria’s biotechnology capabilities.
be to facilitate the establishment of an environment where
Victoria has a strong research and growing industry base these relationships are encouraged.
on which we can build our biotechnology capabilities,
Victoria’s strengths in health and medical research and the
products and exports. New investment from both local
ongoing commercial successes of companies such as CSL,
and international firms will be essential to achieve sustained
Biota, Axon Instruments and AMRAD underpin the
growth and development of biotechnology in this State.
opportunities for Victorian biotechnology to build strategic
Biotechnology is currently being adopted in health, research alliances with international pharmaceutical companies.
agriculture and food sectors. There is a need to encourage
One challenge that has been identified through
uptake in other sectors.
consultation with pharmaceutical companies is the need
Investment attraction and facilitation to speed up the pace of research and organisational
decision-making and research delivery to meet the strict
Victoria has some key competitive advantages as a location timetables of international clinical research programs.
for investment by industry in biotechnology:
• highly skilled and productive workforce;
• Clinical trials: A forum was held in January 2001
• Australia’s strongest manufacturing base; with national and international pharmaceutical
• globally recognised and cost-competitive biotechnology stakeholders to discuss opportunities for Victorian
research base; hospitals and researchers to capture more international
clinical trials. A model involving NHMRC leadership and
• international reputation for high quality research and collaboration with key stakeholders (Commonwealth and
development, especially in specific areas of life-science States Health and Industry departments, industry, others)
research. was proposed and supported by participants.
These strengths are important, but one of the challenges • Investment attraction: The Victorian Government will
in facilitating investment is gaining a good understanding develop a proactive strategy to facilitate local and foreign
of the investment drivers in different parts of the world, investment across the spectrum of research and production
in different market segments and in individual firms. activity. The Government will provide a range of support
Victoria has been successful in encouraging new services designed to encourage new investment.
international investment in biotechnology, such as Alpharma Inc., a US-based global pharmaceutical company
from Alpharma Inc (see box). announced its decision in June 2000 to establish its Asia Pacific
The Victorian Government will actively facilitate new headquarters in Melbourne. The company also plans to expand
investment in areas related to biotechnology. its existing Melbourne manufacturing facility. More than 30 people
are employed in Alpharma's current operations. The decision to
Given the strength of Victoria’s medical research base expand these facilities to a fully commercial operation will see
an early focus will be encouraging both new and ongoing manufacturing levels increase to 1000 kg per year, with an export
investment by pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical value of $40 million. Key to the company’s decision to locate
companies into research, both at the company level in Victoria was access to skilled staff and research institutions
and also into partnerships with research institutes. and the supportive environment created by Government in Victoria.
The development of biotechnology products often relies
on building relationships between small but innovative
biotechnology companies and larger firms with experience
in product development, production, marketing and
distribution. While such relationships can be developed with
4. building victoria’s corporate base and marketing victoria’s capabilities
Networks AusBiotech Ltd is currently considering its future structure
and operations. Victoria accounts for 35% of the organisation’s
The evolving economy based on biotechnology is 540 membership. While AusBiotech Ltd will remain a national
predicated on a new level of cooperation between small organisation, the types of services that AusBiotech Ltd would
innovative biotechnology companies paired with larger offer in support of the development of biotechnology in
established firms and a new relationship between venture Victoria will include:
capital, business, universities and governments at federal,
State and local levels. This is the result of a convergence • Establishment of special interest groups and networks.
of several factors: high costs of technology development, One group that has already been identified is a network
huge rewards financially and high stakes from a public focused on pharmaceutical product development;
interest perspective (Richard Oliver, The coming • Organisation of seminars and networking events
biotechnology age: The business of bio-materials, on topics such as technology commercialisation,
1999, p.193). intellectual property and particular areas of research;
In Victoria, research precincts provide key hubs for • Management of a web page and associated information
biotechnology research but there is a need to facilitate on Victorian biotechnology;
communication and networking between these precincts
and with industry. Strong interaction and communication • Working with Government and other organisations
between stakeholder groups (research and development, to promote Victorian biotechnology;
hospitals, finance, business and government) is essential • A newsletter on major activities and new information
for successful development of biotechnology. pertinent to the biotechnology sector;
Internationally, biotechnology industry associations have • A coordinated industry organisation to provide advice
played an important role in coordination and development to Government on policies and programs;
of the sector. In the USA, Canada and UK, industry
associations have full-time professional staff. Regional- • Access to training programs and workshops on issues
based organisations, often with significant government such as intellectual property management strategies,
support, such as Biocom in San Diego and the Scottish development of business skills for scientists, how
Enterprise Network Biotechnology Group in Scotland, to manage a start-up;
are playing a key role in the development of the • Information on access to finance, business advice and
biotechnology in those locations. incubator facilities including linkages to commercialisation
In Victoria there is a need for an industry-focused network service providers;
to support and complement the developments in the research • A link into national and international biotechnology
precincts. AusBiotech Ltd, formerly known as the Australian initiatives.
Biotechnology Association, provides a mechanism to build
this local industry network and provide support services to Actions
assist the delivery of this strategy. • Biotechnology industry network: The Victorian
Government will work closely with AusBiotech Ltd and
will provide funding to AusBiotech Ltd to facilitate the
establishment of a strong biotechnology network in Victoria.
Application of biotechnology across Trade and export development
industry Most Australian biotechnology companies are ‘born global’
Biotechnology is an enabling technology with application with a focus on international markets and partnerships from
in a wide range of industry sectors. The commercial the very beginning. The challenge of preparing to enter
application of modern biotechnology has been led by and service new global markets can be very difficult.
products in the healthcare sector, but it has also been The trade direction and demand in the domestic and
applied in agriculture and food processing. The economic international markets for genetically modified agriculture
benefits from a new technology arise from the speed and and food products is driven by a range of market forces,
breadth of its uptake. Biotechnology has the potential including supply pressures, consumer opinions and
to impact on a wide range of industry sectors: chemicals, domestic and international regulations.
plastics, energy, information technology, mining and new
materials. It has great potential for addressing Export markets will evolve with consumer attitudes.
environmental issues such as salinity, the remediation Domestic and international market uncertainty cannot
of contaminated sites and reducing waste. be avoided but it can be managed and any adverse impact
of market uncertainty minimised. Timely information about
Action the size and trends of domestic and export markets for
• Cross-industry uptake: The Government, working with genetically modified, non-genetically modified and
industry, will develop a strategy to increase the uptake co-mingled commodities and processed products,
of biotechnology by Victorian industries. and the evolution of consumer attitudes which underlie
these markets, are vital for effective management of market
uncertainty. In addition, Victoria will need to work closely
with the Commonwealth on export certification systems,
based on quality, human health or environmental issues.
• Export development programs: A range of support for
the development of exports can be accessed through
the Victorian and Federal Governments.
• Market information: Ensure that up-to-date information
is available to the agriculture and food sectors on how
domestic and international markets for genetically
modified, non-genetically modified and mingled
agriculture and food products are evolving.
• Market access: The Victorian Government will work
closely with the Commonwealth and industry in
developing the national market access and maintenance
strategies for exports of products of modern
biotechnology. This will include segregation and
IP systems to meet domestic and export market
requirements such as an export certification system,
and the development of national and international
regulations and codes of practice.
4. building victoria’s corporate base and marketing victoria’s capabilities
Building international relationships Biotechnology ambassador
It is vital that we continue to engage other countries, Associated with the alumni initiative will be the
States and cities that are successfully developing their establishment of the position of a Biotechnology
own biotechnology industries. Ambassador for Victoria. This will be a part-time leadership
position for a senior and internationally recognised
In June 2000 the Minister for State and Regional
biotechnologist to advise the Government as well
Development visited Germany and Ireland to gain a
as promote Victoria’s biotechnology strategy nationally
first-hand impression of how these countries are
developing their industries. The Minister outlined Victoria’s
biotechnology strengths in a presentation at the World Action
Expo in Hanover, Germany. There are to be missions
• Biotechnology ambassador: Professor Adrienne
to Australia from both these countries in 2000 and 2001.
Clarke AO has been appointed as the inaugural
The City of Melbourne’s sister city relationship with Boston Biotechnology Ambassador for Victoria.
in the USA has already yielded benefits with Victoria’s
participation in a very successful Bio2000 conference Marketing our capabilities
in March 2000. Biotechnology is one of the fastest growing and most
Action dynamic sectors in today’s global marketplace. As such
there is a need for an ongoing process of developing
• International collaborations: The Government, working and refining strategies to maximise Victoria’s efforts
with industry and the research community, will identify in marketing its biotechnology capabilities to the world.
collaborative opportunities and work to establish
relationships with other key centres around the world. International trade fairs and missions
Trade fairs and conferences provide an opportunity for
Biotechnology alumni Victorian research organisations and industry to promote
There are thousands of Victorian and Australian graduates their advantages to a wide audience. The Victorian
and researchers working in biotechnology research Government has sponsored organisations to participate
and industry around the world. Developing relationships in Bio2000 and hosted a major function with Australian
with this group of expatriates will facilitate introduction expatriates. Attendance at Bio enables representatives
opportunities for local firms and researchers overseas of companies and research organisations to both expose
and the identification and recruitment of suitably qualified their products and research expertise and also see the
people and research teams from overseas to take up key scale and the pace of development of biotechnology
industry leadership positions in Victoria. in North America.
• Biotechnology alumni: Establish an international • Bio2001: Victoria will participate as a leading member
biotechnology alumni network as part of the DSRD of the Australian delegation for the Bio2001 conference
alumni initiative. This network will provide a mechanism in San Diego. The Bio Conference, held annually in the
to re-establish and then maintain contact with expatriate USA, is the world’s largest biotechnology conference
Australians in biotechnology and keep them updated and exhibition. It is estimated that Bio2001 will attract
on industry developments in Victoria. over 16,000 delegates.
• Trade fairs and trade missions: The Victorian
Government will assist local companies to participate
in strategic trade fairs and exhibitions around the world
and will facilitate inward and outward trade and
Hosting of international conferences
A proven method of successfully attracting international
investment is to encourage potential investors to visit
and see for themselves the advantages of Victoria as a
research and investment location. The attraction of major
international biotechnology conferences to the State gives
the Victorian biotechnology industry a clear opportunity
to showcase its developing capabilities to some of the
world’s most influential decision makers and researchers.
• Conferences: The Victorian Government will work
with research organisations, associations and industry
to encourage major international conferences to Victoria.
Conferences that will be supported include:
- The Peter Mac Research Cancer Symposium—
The Molecular and Cell Biology of Cancer in November
2001. It will involve 30 international speakers and 500
delegates from Australia and overseas. The Symposium
will have the objective of linking discovery to industry.
- International Congress of Genetics in July 2003 which
will coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the discovery
of the structure of DNA by Watson and Crick. Some
3,000 delegates are expected, half from overseas.
- 2004 Congress of the International Society of
Fibrinolysis and Proteolysis which will attract hundreds
of international delegates.
5. government leadership and support
Objective: To provide leadership to the Victorian Public opposition to new technologies and innovations
community, and research and industry sectors to is not new to government policy-makers. The Government
develop biotechnology for the benefit of Victoria is very conscious that some people have concerns over the
in a framework where safety and ethical considerations development of biotechnology applications, and it will ensure
are intrinsic to that development. the role of Government is transparent and takes into account
It is difficult to imagine an area of life which will not be
touched by biotechnology developments in the future; The Government is committed to a sound ethical
therefore it is crucial that governments ensure that framework guiding the development of biotechnology
developments in this area are underpinned by sound applications within both the public and private sectors.
public policy that take into account the ‘holistic’, or
‘cross cutting’, nature of this technology. Regulatory framework
The Victorian Government has developed the following Victoria has been working with other States and Territory
policy principles to provide a framework for Government governments and the Commonwealth to develop a national
actions associated with biotechnology. The Government regulatory framework for gene technology. The
will seek to: Government has endorsed the Commonwealth Gene
Technology Act 2000. The Government will develop
• optimise the economic, environmental and social benefits complementary State level legislation to provide the
available through biotechnology; Commonwealth Gene Technology Regulator (GTR) with
• protect and promote the health of the comprehensive coverage over all gene technology activities
Victorian community; that currently take place or are proposed in Victoria.
• assure environmental safety and sustainability; The Government believes that national regulation in this
area provides the best mechanism to safeguard human
• require all actions are undertaken within an health and the environment in a comprehensive and cost
ethical framework; effective manner. Of key importance in the national
• ensure that there is full consultation, communication, regulatory scheme is the role of three national advisory
transparency, monitoring and accountability. bodies that will work closely with the GTR and the
Ministerial Gene Technology Council of State and Territory
To achieve these aims, the Victorian Government will work Ministers. The national Committees are the Gene
within a nationally consistent regulatory framework that will Technology Technical Advisory Committee, the Gene
rigorously assess and manage the potential hazards posed Technology Ethics Committee and the Gene Technology
by biotechnology, while ensuring the State of Victoria Community Consultative Committee.
accrues the benefits from technological developments.
The Government will support a series of forums throughout Actions
Victoria to enable the community to engage in informed debate. • Safety and ethics: The Victorian Government has
In addition to taking a direct role in the area of gene established an interdepartmental committee of senior
technology regulation, the Government has a key role in officers, reporting to Government, on biotechnology
facilitating the efforts of the research and industry sectors safety and ethics.
of the economy to ensure Victoria maximises access to the • Gene technology regulation: The Victorian Government
benefits that biotechnology can deliver. The Government will participate in the national gene technology regulatory
will show leadership in this role, and ensure industry and scheme. A bill will be considered by the Victorian
investment confidence well into the future. Parliament to enable Victorian participation in the national
Victoria cannot afford to ignore or reject the enormous scheme.
potential of this new wave of technology. This strategy • Government leadership for biotechnology safety
takes a long term view of biotechnology developments, and ethics: The Victorian Government will nominate
and will position Victoria to take full advantage of this the Minister for Health as lead Minister for matters of
technology to ensure the community has employment and biotechnology safety and ethics. The Minister for Health
income security well into the future. This view is currently will sit on the national Gene Technology Ministerial
not shared by all in the community. Council as Victoria’s representative.
For many years, the Victorian biotechnology industry has • The Victorian Biotechnology Ethics Advisory Committee:
adhered to a range of practice codes and protocols that The Government will establish a State committee to
ensure research and applications of biotechnology are advise on issues of ethical concern for the Victorian
undertaken within a sound scientific risk assessment and community and complement the work of the national
ethical framework. Gene Technology Ethics Committee.
Where this research has been undertaken or funded within The introduction of genetic testing is creating new
the public sector, the same protocols apply. challenges for the privacy of health information. Within
Government and the private health sector, Victorian
The Department of Human Services (DHS) Ethics
legislation regulates the way in which health information
Committee was set up in 1986 to deal with matters of
about an individual is collected, stored, accessed,
ethics for projects carried out under the aegis of the
transmitted, disclosed, used and disposed of.
Department. The DHS Ethics Committee is an independent
advisory Committee. Where the proposed research Action
involves humans, the Committee evaluates the proposals
• Privacy legislation: The Government has adopted
under national guidelines developed by the National Health
the Information Privacy Act 2000. This legislation
and Medical Research Council.
protects the privacy of individuals’ health information and
The DHS Ethics Committee has also been actively seeking provides individuals with a right to access their health
ways in which the processes for ethical approval of project information. The legislation will cover genetic information
proposals can be streamlined. This work will support more that is in a form that is predictive of an individual’s health.
efficient and effective ethical considerations of research The Act aims to empower individuals to control the
carried out in multi-site health facilities. collection, use and dissemination of their personal
In addition, the Minister for Agriculture has released
a protocol to guide assessments of proposals for the Communication—knowledge for choice
Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE)
involvement in research activities involving genetically Factors such as consumer concerns over threats to human
modified organisms (GMOs). The protocol aims to ensure health and environmental safety posed by GMOs have led
that those activities involving GMOs undertaken by the to the emergence of constraints on their access to some
DNRE will contribute significant social, environmental and markets. In addition to perceived human health and
economic benefits to the Victorian community, will comply environmental impacts, there are concerns over the control
with all relevant Commonwealth and state laws regarding of the food chain by the relatively few companies that own
gene technology and will be transparent and accountable. the key gene technology patents. Misinformation, from both
GMO producers and opponents, has not aided community
The Government will seek to strengthen the input of ethical confidence.
matters into the consideration of biotechnology activities
in all organisations and companies involved with GMOs. Similarly, there is confusion about how gene technology
It will also enhance Victoria’s input into national debates and other biotechnologies are applied in health and
on ethics in establishing a transparent consideration of medical fields. The community is concerned about the
such matters. ethics of cloning.
Actions The Victorian Government respects the right of the
community to make decisions on whether they use or buy
• The Departments of Human Services and Natural biotechnology products. The Government strongly
Resources and Environment have established committees supported the national decision to label foods derived from
and adopted protocols on the ethical aspects of the work genetically modified organisms and has State legislation in
involving GMOs that they either carry out or fund. place that prohibits the cloning of human beings.
• Code of Ethical Practice: The Victorian Government The Government believes the community must have access
will work with stakeholders to review the existing ethical to accurate and balanced information to assist individuals
processes and develop a comprehensive code of ethical to make choices and participate in the debate on many
practice for Victorian groups working with GMOs. issues associated with biotechnology.
5. government leadership and support
Actions • A Platform Technology Steering Group and a
Biotechnology Skills Taskforce will be established to
• Information through the web: The Government’s
provide advice on specific issues.
biotechnology web site www.biotechnology.vic.gov.au
provides information on biotechnology and linkages to Implementing the strategic plan
other information resources.
The implementation of the strategic plan will require the
• Information forums: The Government will support a involvement of a number of Government departments
series of forums on biotechnology in Melbourne and working closely with the relevant stakeholders. The Department
regional Victoria to enable the community to engage in of Human Services will lead the implementation of safety
informed debate. These forums will provide opportunities and ethical aspects of biotechnology. The Department of
for scientists, industry, regulators, supporters and other Natural Resources and Environment will lead the areas of
stakeholders to share their knowledge. improving agriculture production and environment protection.
• Communication with the community: The Government The Department of State and Regional Development will be
will ensure that there is a mechanism for the community charged with responsibility for overall coordination of the
to voice its concerns on biotechnology and, in the first strategic plan and its implementation. This Department will
instance, has established a contact point for the also lead the implementation of the industry development
community to voice its concerns within the Department and science aspects of the strategy.
of Human Services. Coordination will be a particularly important part of this
process, as will the provision of timely and accurate
Advisory bodies information on Victoria’s biotechnology base.
There are a number of advisory organisations to Government
Success of this strategic plan will be measured by the following:
that have contributed to the development of this Strategic
Plan and will be involved in its implementation. These • the establishment of 50 new start-up companies based in
groups include: Victoria by 2005;
• The Knowledge Innovation Science and Engineering • at least five new research or investment partnerships with
Council (KISE) chaired by the Premier. KISE was local or international biotechnology-related companies by
established by the Government in May 2000 to advise 2005 (combined project value of $25 million);
Government on priorities for expenditure on science,
• an increase in clinical trial research investment by
technology and innovation. The development of this
50% by 2005;
strategic plan has been the key task of the KISE Council.
• the creation of three significant manufacturing facilities
• The Strategic Health Research Investment Committee
(SHRIC). SHRIC was established in 1999 to provide
long term strategic advice to the Government on the • community groups believe that they have been informed
development of medical and public health research and involved in the policy development process.
Other advisory groups, such as the Biotechnology Safety
and Ethics Interdepartmental Committee, chaired by the • Biotechnology team: Reporting to the Minister for State
Department of Human Services, will advise Government on and Regional Development, a dedicated team led by a
policy matters in relation to protecting public health and senior executive has been established in the Department
safety and the environment from potential risks associated of State and Regional Development. The team will have
with biotechnology applications. The proposed Victorian responsibility for delivery of the Biotechnology Strategic
Biotechnology Ethics Advisory Committee will provide Plan coordinating effort with industry, research organisations,
more targeted advice to Government on matters of ethics universities and government agencies on a whole of
and biotechnology. Government basis.
Actions • An annual report on progress and an update of the
Strategic Plan will be produced by the Biotechnology
• Advisory committees: The KISE Council and the SHRIC Unit in DSRD, in close consultation with all stakeholders.
will continue to provide advice relating to the implementation
of this strategic plan.
• Intragovernmental consideration on the national regulatory
scheme will proceed under the auspices of the Biotechnology
Safety and Ethics Interdepartmental Committee.
appendix a – strategy development
Over 150 people contributed to the development of the Agrifood Circle of Leaders
Biotechnology Strategic Plan through participation on
Steering and Working Groups. All these individuals and Professor Adrienne Clarke, The University of Melbourne
the organisations for which they work are thanked for Professor Shaun Coffey (Dr John Ryan), CSIRO
Professor Peter Coloe, RMIT University
Steering Committee Dr Paul Donnelly (Mr David Conley), Dairy R&D
Professor Warwick Anderson, Monash University Corporation
Dr David Beames, Virax Holdings Ltd Dr Bruce Kefford (Dr Clive Noble), DNRE
Dr Graeme Blackman, Institute of Drug Technology Professor John Lovett (Mr Andrew Parratt),
Australia Ltd Grains R&D Corporation
Professor Margaret Britz, The University of Melbourne Ms Jane Niall, DSRD
Professor Peter Coloe, RMIT University Professor Roger Parish, La Trobe University
Dr Michael Dalling, Nufarm Ltd Mr Doug Rathbone (Dr Michael Dalling), Nufarm Ltd
Professor David de Kretser, Monash Institute Professor Bob Richardson, The University of Melbourne
of Reproduction and Development
Professor Alan Trounson, Monash University
Dr John Flack, AMRAD Corporation Ltd
Mr Peter Walsh, Victorian Farmers Federation
Mr Peter Francis, Francis, Abourizk and Lightowlers
Mr John Watson, Pivot Limited
Associate Professor William Hart, Department of Human
Professor Richard Wettenhall,
The University of Melbourne and Bio21
Dr Ed Hilliard, La Trobe Research and Development Park
Ms Robyn White, DSRD
Dr Bruce Kefford, Department of Natural Resources
and Environment (DNRE)
Professor Fredrick Mendelsohn, Howard Florey Institute of
Experimental Physiology and Medicine
Professor Graham Mitchell, Chief Scientist, DNRE
Mr David Newton, Consultant
Ms Jane Niall, Department of State and Regional
Professor Nic Nicola, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute
of Medical Research
Dr Phillip Reece, Biota Holdings Limited
Professor German Spangenberg, Director AV Plant
Dr Elane Zelcer, Thrombogenix Pty Ltd
appendix a – strategy development
Biotechnology Strategy Team
The following people made a major contribution
to the Strategic Plan through their participation in the
Biotechnology Strategy Team located in the Science,
Technology and Innovation Division of the Department
of State and Regional Development.
Ms Margaret Bird, DSRD
Mr David Campbell, Leading Dog Consulting
Dr Anthony Filippis, DSRD
Dr Sze Flett, DNRE
Dr Julia Hill, DSRD
Dr Russell Joshua, DSRD
Ms Heidi Matkovich, DSRD
Ms Cynthia Mrigate, DSRD
Mr David Newton, Consultant
Ms Jane Niall, DSRD
Ms Stefanie Pearce, DSRD
Dr Kirby Siemering, secondee Florigene Ltd
Mr Lance Sparrow, DSRD
Ms Emma Tinning, DSRD
Mr Paul Trushell, DSRD
Dr Larry Ward, secondee AMRAD Ltd
Ms Robyn White, DSRD
Mr Peter Wilson, DSRD
appendix b – biotechnology around the world
The United States of America Canada
The United States of America dominates the world Canada has around 280 core biotechnology companies
in biotechnology, with 1,283 companies employing over (second only to the USA) with a total revenue of
150,000 people, revenues of US$18.6 billion and a market A$1,244 million and employing just under 10,000 staff.
capitalisation of US$97 billion in 1999. The USA has an It is estimated that, in 1997, C$750 million was spent
impressive research base; in 1999 government expenditure on biotechnology R&D in Canada, including C$350 million
on R&D reached over US$18 billion with companies also from industry and C$400 million from universities,
spending around US$10 billion annually on research. The government and not-for-profit organisations. Canadian firms
National Institutes of Health, the USA’s largest research are concentrated in the health care (59%) and ag-bio
funding body, allocated over US$15 billion to basic sectors (26%). This share of agbiotech is considerably
bioscience research in 1999, an increase of more than higher than the USA at 5% but similar to Australia, which
US$1 billion from the previous year, citing the importance is quoted in the Ernst & Young report at 23%.
of capitalising on biotechnology as the reason for the
There are a number of federal and provincial programs
dramatic rise. The National Science Foundation has
aimed at boosting the biotechnology sector in Canada
a budget of US$3 billion in 2000 for research, about
as well as various tax incentives to attract biotechnology
US$400 m of which is directed to biological research,
investment to the country. These include grants from the
while the US Departments of Agriculture and Energy
Medical Research Council, the largest supporter of
(which includes human genome mapping) also spends
biotechnology research in Canada, with a research budget
around US$2 billion per year on biotechnology research.
of C$268 million in 1998-99, approximately 70% of which
The USA has a number of successful biotechnology was dedicated to biotechnology. Other programs include
clusters based around major scientific institutions. The Networks of Centres of Excellence Program (NCE),
Examples include Boston, the San Francisco Bay area, which promotes partnerships among industry, universities
San Diego, Maryland and Seattle. These biotechnology and government, and Technology Partnerships Canada
clusters are the world’s most developed and offer which has a budget of around C$250 million per year.
successful models for cluster development.
Other federal initiatives include the Industrial Research
Boston is one of the most mature clusters in the USA, Assistance Programs (IRAP) and a number of tax
second in size only to the San Francisco Bay area. It incentives including the R&D tax credit program for
possesses all of the characteristics required of a successful performing R&D in Canada. The effect of the program
cluster. These include a strong and expanding company is to reduce the cost of R&D to the company in recognition
base (245 core biotechnology companies in Massachusetts of social benefits to be gained from research.
employing 1,700 people) that together with leading
A number of provinces in Canada have also implemented
international research institutes including MIT, Harvard, the
programs designed to boost biotechnology. For example,
Whitehead Institute and Boston University form the centre
in 1989 the provincial government of Saskatchewan,
of this cluster. The formation of many of Boston’s start-up
recognising both the challenges and the potential of
companies has been intrinsically linked to the cutting edge
agricultural biotechnology, supported the formation of
R&D performed in Boston. For example, at the Whitehead
Ag-West Biotech Inc. with the University of Saskatchewan,
Institute virtually all faculty members are involved in start-up
a non-profit corporation, to act as a catalyst for agricultural
companies. There is also a thriving venture capital industry
biotechnology initiatives. Successfully securing federal and
in Massachusetts with over 150 firms.
provincial involvement, Saskatchewan is now home to 40%
of Canada’s agricultural biotechnology industry. It supports
one of the world’s top agricultural research centres, which
features more than 400 public sector and 300 private
sector research scientists spending more than
C$80 million annually on research.
appendix b – biotechnology around the world
The United Kingdom In Scotland, the number of individuals working in
biotechnology and its support industries has doubled in the
The United Kingdom is Europe’s leading centre of last two years to over 18,000. Scotland is now home to
biotechnology. In 1999 the UK had some 270 specialist 49 biotechnology companies, including world leaders such
biotechnology companies, employing over 14,000 people. as the Roslin Institute and PPL Therapeutics.
This represents a growth of over 150 companies in the last
six years. Total UK Government funding on bioscience Ireland
is approximately UK£600 million per year. The UK now
In 1988 the Irish Government established a partnership
accounts for a quarter of all European specialist
with Irish universities to commercialise biotechnology. This
biotechnology companies. The UK is also home to
agency was called BioResearch Ireland (BRI). The strength
a number of major pharmaceutical companies, including
of BRI is its technology management capabilities and its
Glaxo Wellcome, SmithKline Beecham and Astra Zeneca
ability to transfer technologies from academia to industry.
(still registered and headquartered in the UK after the
As well as investing in R&D, BRI covers marketing,
merger of Zeneca with the Swedish company Astra).
business development, patenting and licensing of
The UK’s success in biotechnology lies both in its strong technologies. BRI also carries out contract research on
tradition of research from its world class universities and technology development and provides technical services to
a number of government initiatives designed to enhance the food, agribusiness, healthcare and other bio-industries.
innovation, entrepreneurship and technology fusion and
Ireland’s Industrial Development Agency has also attracted
transfer. The success of the UK initiatives lies in their
nine of the world’s top ten pharmaceutical companies
integrated R&D and industry approach, from basic
to Ireland. The favourable tax environment, relatively low
education, R&D support and commercialisation programs.
operating costs and well educated workforce have made
These include tax relief measures, collaborative programs
Ireland an attractive place to do business. There are
and commercialisation programs.
120 international pharmaceutical and related companies
The Wellcome Trust, the world’s largest medical research in Ireland today, employing 16,000 people and exporting
charity, is also a major sponsor of biomedical research in US$12 billion annually.
the UK. The Trust has an asset base of UK£13 billion and
Ireland recently announced its National Development
expenditure in 1999-2000 is estimated at UK£600 million.
Plan, which will invest E2.5 billion into research and
The Trust provides project grants for basic research as
technical development over the next six years. Ireland
well as supporting a number of other schemes, including
has also established a Millennium Entrepreneur Fund
the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, home of the Sanger
which will provide up to £100,000 for expatriates with
Centre, and a UK£110 million commitment to building
the right skills and background to return and create
a new business in Ireland.
The UK also has a number of successful regional
biotechnology clusters, including Cambridge and Scotland. Germany
In Scotland the Scottish Enterprise Group was set up Until recently, Germany was lagging in biotechnology
to encourage the further development of a biotechnology because of its unfavourable legal framework and strong
cluster in Scotland. The Biotechnology Group is made up public scepticism and resentment of the sector. The federal
of technologists with bio-industry experience and, as well government recognised this and initiated a competition
as offering every day business development expertise, the called BioRegio to jump-start the biotechnology industry
Group works alongside Scottish Trade International and and promote cluster formation. The aim of the initiative was
Locate in Scotland to help internationalise the Scottish to rapidly convert the outstanding research in biosciences
biotechnology industry through trade missions, exhibitions in Germany into biotechnology products or processes via
and seminars. formation of start-up companies. The contest, which was
initiated in 1996, has been instrumental in the strong surge
in start-up company formation. The number of core
biotechnology companies has grown from 75 in 1995,
100 in 1996, 173 in 1997, to 228 in 1998. Stimulation
of the venture capital industry was instrumental in the
strategy, with federal and state governments being lead sequencing centre. The centre will have a sequencing
investors in various seed funds. Total investment in 1998 capacity which is half of that at Celera Genomics, making
(including venture capital) was DM 425 million, six times it the largest sequencing facility in Asia.
the level of 1996.
Republic of Korea
Munich, which was one of the winners of the competition,
is particularly worthy of note. In order to create the The Korean government approved a five-year science
interactive environment required by biotechnology, the local and technology innovation plan designed to promote
government undertook a program where major government funded research and development, in an
biotechnology related faculties of Munich’s universities endeavour to improve their economic growth. Under
were brought together adjacent to the Max Planck Institute the Biotech 2000 program US$20 billion will be invested
in Martinsreid. This was to provide the nucleus of the into biotechnology projects over a 14-year period from
cluster with world class multidisciplinary R&D. Associated 1994–2007.
with the institutes is an Innovation Centre which houses In areas such as fermentation technology, Korea has
start-up companies emanating from the academic institutes reached the technological level of industrialised countries.
in the area. The centre provides management services However, a report by the Korea Institute of Bioscience
to the companies including access to seed capital. Its and Biotechnology has demonstrated that other areas
effectiveness has attracted companies from other parts of technology, such as separation technology and
of Germany. biomaterials, are still at an early stage of development.
Japan Biotech 2000 involves seven government ministries and
aims to bring Korean biotechnology to the same level
In 1997, the total market for the Japanese bio-industry
as the world’s industrialised countries by the year 2007.
exceeded 1 trillion yen. The year 1985 saw the first major
Research under this program focuses on areas such
commercial biotechnology product on the Japanese market
as biomaterials, biomedical engineering, genome analysis,
and that was recombinant insulin. Between 1985 and 1990
cell culture, food and environmental biotechnology and
the market dramatically increased but then slowed down
basic life sciences.
after the ‘bubble economy’ burst in 1990. In 1997 Japan
imported many recombinant crops including soybeans, Approximately 80 companies in Korea have become
rape seed, corn and potatoes from North America. involved in biotechnology research and development
Recombinant crops are a very fast growing market in including large conglomerates such as Samsung. Samsung
Japan and is one which could stimulate investment into has opened a biomedical research institute in Seoul and
Victorian biotechnology if the appropriate networks were intends to extend this in conjunction with a local university.
The Diat passed a ‘Basic Planning Law for Science and
Technology’ in 1996. This was aimed at recovering Japan’s
international competitiveness in advanced technologies and
industries including biotechnology. The national budget
to promote biotechnology in Japan has been steadily
increasing and in 1998 the total budget of biotechnology
exceeded 255.3 billion yen.
In January 2000 the Japan Development Bank announced
that it is to set up a dedicated biotechnology fund,
reflecting the growing willingness of Japanese investors
to nurture domestic start-up companies. About 20
biotechnology companies are believed to have been
set up in Japan during the past year.
Further evidence of the Japanese commitment
to biotechnology emerged in April 2000, with the
announcement of plans for a high-speed genome
appendix b – biotechnology around the world
Singapore New Zealand
The Economic Development Board of Singapore intends The biotechnology industry in New Zealand is playing
to develop Singapore as a life sciences hub with world- a large part in addressing both the production-limiting
class capabilities across the whole value chain of activities. problems of farming practices as well as the challenges
The Board is aggressively marketing Singapore as a to add value to the primary products for which New
choice location for life sciences companies and is working Zealand is already well known. In doing so, the industry
hard at attracting multinational pharmaceutical companies. is also developing a maturity which has seen an increase
Singapore has an existing cluster of companies in in the number of organisations with a distinct biotechnology
pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, medical devices and identity. This growth has been recognised by the
agribiotechnology that are supported by contract research appointment of the Independent Biotechnology Advisory
organisations. The country also has a highly educated Council (IBAC) in 1999, to advise the government
workforce, good infrastructure and networks to global on how New Zealand can best benefit from this
markets. They have industrial land, parks and incubator emerging technology.
laboratories in place ready for companies to lease.
Some of the developments over the last three years include
In 1998 the output of the life sciences industry rose by the splitting off of Cyanamid to Fort Dodge Animal Health
close to 50% to reach $3.8 billion. During the same year while retaining the horticultural and pest control arms of
fixed asset investments grew to $515 million. Significant the business. The conformity assessment function of Telarc
new investments were made by Merck and reinvestments New Zealand now resides with International Accreditation
by Glaxo Wellcome. Perkin Elmer opened a $10 million New Zealand, a new and separate entity that operates from
single-site manufacturing facility for specific models of the same premises. AgVax Developments Ltd was recently
thermocyclers, gas chromatographs and atomic absorption developed as a subsidiary of AgResearch (NZ Pastoral
spectrometers. Genset of France has also established Agricultural Research Institute).
a joint venture with Singapore’s Bioprocessing Technology
Centre to manufacture and distribute synthetic
oligonucleotides throughout Asia.
Technopreneurship funds being supplied by the National
Science and Development Board are available as seed
capital for biotechnology ventures. These funds are also
available to countries other than Singapore as long as
the resulting business is located in Singapore. There
is a biotechnology incubator at the National University
of Singapore and a large bioinformatics capability.
Incubator management companies also supply some
seed capital. Overall Singapore has access to much
more seed capital than Australia, indicative of an
investment community that is less risk averse.
The Economic Development Board is interested
in investing in and attracting three types of companies
• multinational companies to manufacture;
• companies that have developed new technologies
but are not ready to carry out clinical trials; and
• companies bringing in foreign technologies from
appendix c – modern biotechnology applications
What Why In use in
Crops, Fruits & Plants Australia
Soybeans • Herbicide resistance — farmers can spray weeds without Yes (imported) — but not
harming their crops. grown in Australia
Canola • Herbicide resistance — farmers can spray weeds without no
harming their crops.
Legumes eg. field peas • Human & animal nutrition — increase nutritional value. no
• Better yields — inbuilt protection from fungal and
bacterial disease. no
Oilseeds eg canola, • Human health — increase monounsaturated oils or omega-3 no
sunflower oils for margarine and cooking oils to help improve heart
Sugar • Increase sugar quality and sugar industry productivity — no
produce more sucrose from each plant and enhance
Wine grapes • Increase productivity — inbuilt pest and disease resistance no
and more efficient at absorbing nutrients from soil.
• Increase variety — colour, flavour and sweetness. no
Barley • Increase productivity — inbuilt disease resistance. no
• Increase malting quality — to suit export markets. no
• Improve brewing efficiency. no
Wheat • Increase export value of wheat — tailor varieties to suit no
tastes of particular markets.
Apples and pears • Human health — increase fibre content. no
• Reduce use of pesticides — inbuilt resistance to insect pests. no
Grapes and citrus fruit • Seedless varieties — to meet consumer demand. no
like oranges, mandarins
Potatoes • Non-browning varieties — to meet consumer demand. no
• Increase productivity — inbuilt disease resistance. no
Cotton • Reduce pesticide use — inbuilt resistance to major pest yes — grown and sold in
means farmers need to spray less often to control minor Australia for cloth and
pests. cottonseed oil.
Pastures • Increase wool growth and productivity of beef and dairy no
cattle — improve pastures by increasing sulphur — rich
proteins in leaves.
• Cattle health — preventing bloat, which can result from no
eating lucerne and clover.
Eucalypts • Increase pulp yields for paper-making. no
appendix c – modern biotechnology applications
Poultry • Poultry health — diagnostic kits for infectious bursal no
Pigs • Pig health — to boost pigs’ natural immunity to infection no
and so reduce use of antibiotic therapy.
Salmon • Aquaculture — to increase growth rate and size of salmon. no
Dairy cattle • Milk — to remove lactose from milk so that people with no
lactose-intolerance can eat dairy products.
Fish and crustaceans • Aquaculture — to boost productivity by: no
- increasing growth; and
- health through inbuilt disease resistance.
Livestock eg cattle • Livestock health — to boost immunity to replace ongoing no
• Livestock health — to develop rapid diagnostic tests for no
exotic virus disease and emerging diseases like lyssavirus.
• Livestock health — to develop vaccines for diseases of no
livestock and poultry.
Carnations and roses • Produce new commercial flowers — carnations and roses yes — a violet coloured
with blue flowers, a rare and popular colour. carnation and a long
Developed and marketed
Medicine by Florigene.
New drugs • To design more effective therapies for diseases like cancer, yes — Relenza for
diabetes, influenza and hepatitis C. treatment of influenza.
Gene therapy • To replace an abnormal gene with a normal gene. Other drugs are still the
subject of research.
Insulin • To insert a missing gene.
Therapeutic cloning • To switch off rogue genes that may cause cancers. no
Antibody treatments • To stop viruses replicating within cells. no
Antibiotic-resistance • To replace production of insulin from pigs’ livers. This has yes
increased efficiency of insulin manufacture while reducing
• Embryos are cloned for their cells, which can be used no
in gene therapies. Like all cloning, this technique has
significant moral and ethical implications and remains
the subject of research.
• To develop antibodies that will help diagnose and treat no
diseases like cancer and diabetes.
• Animal and human health — to find out if and how bacteria n/a
from different animals swap genes for resisting antibiotics
so as to improve livestock health practices and preserve
Acid tolerant plants • Can be grown in areas affected by increasing soil acidity, no
while helping reduce further soil damage and loss of
nutrients through leaching.
Aquaculture — fish and • Increase productivity — reduce overfishing and allow ocean no
crustaceans fish stocks to rebuild numbers. (see Animals).
Bacteria to clean up mine • For better mine site rehabilitation. no
Pest control • Reduce damage to Australian environment and native no
wildlife — immunocontraception to control rabbits, foxes,
feral cats and mice.
Bacteria to clean up • To clean up pesticide residues left in our environment. no
Cheese • Increase export opportunities — adapting cheeses and no
flavours to suit overseas markets.
Yeast • Brewing — to speed up fermentation and improve flavour. no
Preserving food • Diagnostic tests — to quickly test for dangerous food- no
• Food preservatives — to use natural anti-bacterials as food no
(Source: CSIRO, October 2000)
For more information on the Biotechnology Strategic
Development Plan for Victoria, please contact:
Science, Technology and Innovation
Department of State and Regional Development
Post Office Box 4509RR
Melbourne Vic 3001
For more information contact: Science Technology & Innovation Division, Department of State & Regional Development
GPO Box 4509RR Melbourne Victoria 3000 email: email@example.com or website: www.innovation.vic.gov.au
email: firstname.lastname@example.org or website: www.biotechnology.vic.gov.au