Biotech vs Budget 2019-20: The economy Australia is ignoring

| April 8, 2019

Funding allocations for areas related to biotechnology in Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s 2019-20 Budget announcement ignore the real roadblocks standing in the way of a thriving biotech economy in Australia.

The iQ Group Global’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr. George Syrmalis, said that although spending measures within biotechnology are welcome, policies to remove the red tape preventing commercialisation would be more welcome.

“The hard truth for Australia is that it can’t be a mining and construction economy any more,” Dr. Syrmalis said.

“If the government really wants to activate a biotech economy to take Australia through the next 50 years, it needs to introduce supply side reforms to deregulate intellectual property ownership and development.”

Amongst big ticket announcements on tax cuts and infrastructure spending, allocations related to biotechnology included $400 million for genomics research; $60 million for export market development grants; $354 million for clinical trials for rare cancers, rare diseases and ‘unmet needs’; and $23 million to tackle anti-microbial resistance and drug resistant tuberculosis.

Additionally, Treasurer Frydenberg announced $554 million for ‘emerging priorities and consumer driven research’ and $444 million ‘to support our best health and medical researchers to make breakthrough discoveries, develop their skills and progress their careers in Australia’.

“Australia is ranked fourth in the world for our biotech intensity[1], which measures intellectual property patents, research and development expenditure and enterprise support. But we rank 81st globally for innovation output versus input[2]. The policies getting in the way of commercialising innovation are what need attention,” Dr. Syrmalis said.

For more, watch The iQ Group Global Senior Economist Laurence Parker-Brown’s commentary on the 2019-20 Budget:

[1] 7th Annual Scientific American World View Biotechnology Scorecard
[2] INSEAD Global Innovation Index 2018