Funding hits Australian life science research

Funding hits Australian life science research

Last week MTPConnect announced grants worth $7.4 million for 14 national projects supporting the growth of the medical technologies, biotechnologies and pharmaceuticals sector so all of the Australian life science research sector.

This is an exciting announcement from the MTPConnect team, led by Sue MacLeman, CEO. The team appears to be driving hard since their formation as a not-for-profit organisation which aims to accelerate the rate of growth of Australia’s life science sectors. MTPConnect was formed in November 2015 as part of the Federal Government’s $248 million Industry Growth Centres Initiative.

MTPConnect reported they received 38 applications from industry, research organisations and universities, with a proposed $90 million of matched funding coming from the sector. The projects funded were selected based on deliveries perceived to benefit on a national scale and have sector-wide impact.

MTPConnects goals are to achieve greater commercialisation and improve the relationship between research and industry to help drive commercialisation in order to establish Australia as an Asia-Pacific hub for life science technologies

International BioFest 2016

MTPConnect appears to be echoing the take home message from day one of the International BioFest currently running at the Melbourne Convention Centre. BioFest is a three day event that I attended, combining AusBiotech Conference, the 17th International Biotechnology Symposium and Exhibition Biotech Invest 2016. The overwhelming call has been the need for improved and stronger relationships between industry and researchers.

Australia life science sector has a fantastic opportunity for growth supported by both national and state government. The event was opened by The Honourable Daniel Andrews MP, who made it clear that the demise of the automotive industry coupled with the decline of the mining boom has bought focus on the potential of life science growth in Australia. Mr Andrews stated that the pharma industry in Victoria already had a workforce of 21, 000 and growing.

The mood of both speakers and participants indicated that industry growth is currently hindered by constraints including a lack of collaboration between business and research, skills shortages, the need for more focused funding and investment. As always the need for more streamlined and harmonised regulatory frameworks has been predominate in the discussion. Overall the message has been one of a positive outlook and growth assuming Australian researchers can develop strong ‘ecosystems’. Strong ecosystems were repeatedly raised by the big pharma’s as part of their call to researchers to build GMP into the development process to support early and smother transition to commercialisation.

Remembering ‘why’ needs to underpin ‘how’

Research and big pharma have not always gone hand in hand but the message from both MTPConnect and the International BioFest has been it is time for both parties to make friends early to help ensure Australia’s brilliant research reaches patients quicker, which is what this is all about, isn’t it?