Biotechnology & Life Sciences - Opportunities - Invest Victoria, Melbourne, Victoria
Biotechnology and Life Sciences
Melbourne has given the world four Nobel prize winners in medicine or physiology. The city continues that tradition to this day, as a global centre for excellence in life sciences education, research and innovation.
VIDEO: Why Melbourne for Biotechnology & Life Sciences?
Melbourne's expertise in stem cell, infectious diseases, cancer, neuroscience and agricultural biotechnology is internationally recognised.
The city has a growing pharmaceutical manufacturing base, with exports of more than A$1 billion.
It’s home to CSL, one of the world’s top five bio companies.
Our world-class universities, teaching hospitals and renowned research institutes enable global collaboration and ensure a steady supply of highly skilled professionals.
Our cutting-edge research institutes include Florey Neuroscience Institutes, one of the world’s top 10 neuroscience institutes; and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, one of the four largest pediatric research institutes in the world.
The sector enjoys strong government support, with the Victorian Government investing almost A$4 billion in science and innovation over the past 10 years.
Resilient life sciences sector
Melbourne is home to around 30% of Australian medical and pharmaceutical companies.
Victoria has 42 life science companies listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX), with a combined market capitalisation of nearly A$21.4 billion.
These companies currently have 85 life science products on the market, with 39 Phase II and 15 Phase III clinical trial programs underway.
Australia’s two largest listed pharmaceutical companies, CSL and Sigma Pharmaceuticals, also call Melbourne home.
Australian-listed biotech firms fared well during the Global Financial Crisis, with PWC’s Bioforums Index down only 0.7%, compared to the All Ordinaries drop of 26% in 2008-09.
Research & Development Credentials
Melbourne’s strong biotechnology sector attracts eminent researchers from around the world.
Annual spending on biotechnology-related research and development in Victoria exceeds A$1 billion, including more than A$630 million of private R&D in 2010, which is more than any other state.
Victoria is known for its excellence in medical research and has a recognised collaborative model across basic and clinical research.
Research capability is underpinned by a network of nine universities, seven major teaching hospitals, and 13 independent medical research institutes. Melbourne is one of the few cities in the world with two universities in the top 25 global biomedical rankings.
Australia has more graduates at PhD levels in biotechnology-related disciplines per head of population than the USA, Canada and Japan.
Our biomedical researchers have consistently secured more than 40% of Australia’s National Health and Medical Research (NHMRC) funding over the last 10 years. In 2010, Victoria won A$284 million of NHMRC funding.
Melbourne is renowned for a strong culture of collaboration. Together, Victoria’s medical research community, biotech firms and global pharmaceutical firms have achieved significant breakthroughs.
In a deal worth at least A$336 million, Acrux has granted US pharmaceutical giant Eli Lily exclusive rights to the global commercialisation of its male testosterone replacement drug, Axiron.
Australia is the only country in the world that can satisfy national demand for swine flu vaccines, as well as contribute to the global effort, thanks to CSL’s swine flu vaccine. CSL also developed the world’s first cervical cancer vaccine, Gardasil.
Biota’s flu vaccine Relenza is manufactured at GSK’s sterile manufacturing facility in Boronia, GSK’s largest worldwide.
Diagnostics and devices:
HealthLinx obtained approval from European Certification (CE) for OvPlex, its early-stage ovarian cancer test, enabling sales to begin in the UK and other EU countries.
Doctors from the Royal Melbourne Hospital, the University of Melbourne and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute developed a non-invasive genetic test for epilepsy, enabling effective treatment and care.
Neuroscientists at the Florey Neuroscience Institutes developed a wristwatch-like device that continuously monitors the mobility of patients with Parkinson’s disease, allowing doctors to personalise treatment.
The bionic ear (cochlear implant) was invented at the University of Melbourne, and was first implanted at the Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital in 1978. In March 2010, researchers at Bionic Vision Australia and the University of Melbourne unveiled a world-first prototype bionic eye.
Victoria is the premier location for clinical trials in the Asia-Pacific region, with a global reputation for quality and integrity.
Clinical trials in Victoria are also cost-effective: around 50-60% lower than in the United States, according to a study by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
Excellent connections to local, national and international markets are facilitated by 24-hour infrastructure such as Melbourne Airport, the Port of Melbourne, and specialised biomaterials courier services.
Victoria has a fast, favourable regulatory environment, within a robust national framework.
Under the Clinical Trial Notification (CTN) Scheme, 99% of trials are able to go ahead within a week of being registered.
Trials taking place in more than location go through a single, streamlined approval process.
Australian practice and standards frameworks are recognised by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Administration (EMEA).
This ensures products successfully trialled in Australia have immediate transferability to European Union and United States markets.
In 2007, Victoria became the first Australian state to pass legislation allowing somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT or ‘therapeutic cloning’) for medical research, creating a world’s best-practice regulatory and ethical framework for advances in the field.
In recent years the Victorian Government has lifted a moratorium on genetically modified crops. Researchers at AgriBio – the centre for AgriBioscience are engaged in cutting-edge research to improve productivity, fight disease and reduce environmental impact.
Customised information about national biotechnology regulations available at BioRegs Online.
Home to Australia’s two largest listed pharmaceutical companies
Melbourne is home to around 30 per cent of Australian medical and pharmaceutical companies. Melbourne is home to six life science companies with a market capitalisation greater than A$200 million including Australia’s two largest listed pharmaceutical companies, Sigma Pharmaceuticals and CSL Limited, which at A$18 billion is one of the world’s top five biotech companies. The total 2010 market capitalisation for all Victorian-based listed companies is A$21.4 billion .
Leaders in agricultural biotechnology (agribio)
Melbourne is an international leader in agricultural biotechnology with research strengths in high-nutritional pasture grasses, dairy genetics, avian influenza diagnostics, freshwater aquaculture, and novel anti-microbial compounds from wallaby milk. Agricultural biotechnology is supported by Primary Industries Research Victoria (PIRVic) – a network of 19 R&D centres across 10 scientific capability platforms employing more than 1000 highly-skilled scientific and technical staff. Melbourne is also the home of a new A$230 million AgriBio - Biosciences research centre.
Industrial biotechnology leads to significant gains for Melbourne companies
Companies throughout Melbourne use biotechnology research and skills to develop solutions for applications across a broad range of industrial manufacturing sectors. Key drivers include the desire to increase productivity and efficiency with a particular focus on environmentally-friendly and sustainable processes and use of resources. Industrial biotechnology has led to significant gains for Melbourne companies across industry, from cost savings to reduced pollution, energy and water usage.
Victorian Bio Portal - Australia's first biotechnology industry portal
The BioPortal's role is to be a one-stop-shop to access information about the sector featuring:
a directory of the biotech and research industry,
The Victorian Platform Technologies Network,
a search engine that lists Victoria's biotech infrastructure and how companies can gain access
information about Victoria's four biotechnology precincts, complete with interactive maps
statistics and facts about the Victorian biotech sector
listings of the specialist service providers
a centralised listing of all Government policies, programs, grants and concessions for the industry
an education resource for both professionals and undergraduate students