19 October 2022

Australia biotech and medtech powerhouse

Australia’s dynamic biotech and medtech sectors are driving cutting-edge discoveries that are transforming and saving lives all over the world – and that makes Australia an ideal hub for global companies and investors in this space.

Leading multinational life science companies such as AbbVieJohnson & Johnson and IQVIA are already reaping the benefits of an Australian presence, and others are lining up to follow suit as the world looks to innovative technologies to improve lives and tackle some of our biggest health challenges.

Australia’s culture of collaboration and innovation, along with its reputation for groundbreaking research in this field – ranked eighth globally – underpin the success of its health and life sciences industry, one of the country’s most valuable export sectors and growing rapidly.

The 2022–23 Federal Budget reinforced the Australian Government’s support, with medical science one of the areas set to receive co-investment from the A$15 billion National Reconstruction Fund.

This will help to ensure that Australia’s biotech and medtech sectors go from strength to strength with a pipeline of breakthrough solutions adding to Australia’s long track record of success – think cochlear implant, electronic pacemaker, spray-on skin, penicillin-based antibiotics, in-vitro fertilisation and the world’s first vaccine for cervical cancer (Gardasil), to name just a few.

“Australia is driving outstanding and cutting-edge research and discoveries in the fields of biomedical engineering and medical technology. And all this opens up a great opportunity for collaboration,” says Dr Fatemeh Karimi, Vice Chancellor’s Research Fellow at the UNSW Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering.

Pipette adding sample to petri dish with DNA profiles in background

A study released recently by peak industry body AusBiotech reveals the strong growth of Australia’s biotechnology industry over the past four years, with ASX-listed biotech companies now representing around A$233 billion in market value and 36 per cent worth more than A$100 million – a measure of the industry’s ability to create companies of significant future value.

Some of those innovative biotech companies showcased their technologies and pitched their partnering opportunities to potential global investors at AusBioInvest 2022 – Australia’s largest investor conference for the life sciences industry. For investors, the event presented a unique opportunity to connect with Australia’s biotechnology ecosystem to help inform their investment dollar and leverage Australia’s competitive advantage in life sciences.

Investment opportunities in both biotech and medtech range from discovery research through to product development partnerships – and the advantages of doing business in Australia are many. They include: a collaborative R&D environment led by world-leading universities and renowned research institutes such as CSIRO; more than 30 medtech incubators and accelerators; large biomedical precincts in major cities; a sophisticated and cost-efficient clinical trials system; rapid regulatory approval processes; generous tax incentives and government funding programs; a highly skilled workforce; and access to fast-emerging Asia-Pacific markets.

Global pharmaceutical and diagnostic company Roche is one of the growing number of international giants capitalising on this suite of benefits and establishing or expanding their operations in Australia. Roche announced earlier this year that it would jointly fund a new Australian clinical trials initiative – part of a wider A$185 million project to establish Australia as a regional hub for the development of innovative medicines to treat cancer.

German biotechnology company BioNTech SE, joint developer of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, has recently chosen the southern state of Victoria to establish a clinical-scale mRNA manufacturing facility. This follows an earlier decision by US giant Moderna – in partnership with the Australian and Victorian governments and Monash University – to set up an mRNA manufacturing facility in Melbourne capable of producing up to 100 million vaccine doses each year.

“Australia provides excellent academic research, and we are looking forward to collaborating with world-class scientists and researchers to strengthen Australia’s mRNA ecosystem and jointly develop treatments and vaccines for people worldwide,” says BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin.

The success of homegrown multinationals like CSL is further evidence of Australia’s robust health and life sciences industry. CSL recently acquired Swiss pharmaceutical manufacturer CSL Vifor – a massive takeover that will expand CSL’s global footprint into complementary treatments, as well as deliver a high-quality R&D development pipeline.

To discover more about Australia’s thriving biotech and medtech sectors, as well as the opportunities and support available for business and investment, visit our health and life science page.