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Federal Budget

Investment in manufacturing is a boon for the life sciences sector

Michael Cunningham
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The Life Sciences sector has never been more important or more in the public eye. Our manufacturing and clinical trial facilities are first class. We are home to over 700 biotech and medtech companies, employing over 240,000 people.
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However, we do most of the front-end work – the R&D – before the IP is exported overseas for manufacture and commercialisation. That’s where the ROI is – in the years of research and clinical trials we conduct here on home soil – but we rarely reap the benefits of.

As you will see from other sections in our ‘Federal Budget: A 10 year retrospective’ report, we have really clear data from the Government for most industries. But not life sciences. As part of the broader health and innovation funding pool, the life sciences industry benefits indirectly from funding in healthcare and CSIRO spend, such as the $500m Biomedical Translation Fund, and the $20b Medical Research Future Fund under the Department of Health.

We know from peak industry body, AusBiotech, that the life sciences industry has grown 16% since 2017 – adding $5b in gross value each year to the Australian economy, and attracting an average of $1b in venture capital each year. Australia’s life sciences sector certainly punches above its weight; ranked amongst the top 4 destinations in the world.

The sector was already a strong and growing one

Now, we are even more optimistic about the long term prospects for life sciences in Australia. Medical manufacturing is a priority industry of the modern manufacturing initiative. We saw the proposed changes to the R&D incentive rolled back and an additional $2b of investment injected into the R&D Tax Incentive scheme. Investor appetite for medical devices and pharmaceuticals – always strong – is now even higher off the back of COVID. Now is a great time to gauge the market and talk to potential investors. The market is fickle but at the moment investors are attentive, they're open, and they're listening.

In our report we cover:

  • Life sciences has huge potential, but gets lost in the funding mix
  • Investment in manufacturing is a boon for the life sciences sector
  • Keeping the funds flowing
  • Challenges in the education sector will impact life sciences
  • So where to from here?

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Looking back to look forward

We were initially writing the ‘Federal Budget: A 10 year retrospective’ report before COVID-19 as an advocacy piece for more industry investment and support. Of course, the way the year started is not the way the year is ending. Many sectors that had been left to their own devices are now key for our recovery. Sovereign capability. Jobs. Digital economy. Modern manufacturing. Renewable future. Deregulation. Innovation. These are the terms we will use as we settle into COVID-normal.

Our report looks retrospectively at 13 different industries, the investment made into them by Government and their contribution to GDP. This is then overlaid with the opportunity we see for industry in this new normal based on recent Government announcements.

Download report