Question: Biotechnology Convention

Written on the 20 May 2013

Ms CROZIER (Southern Metropolitan) -- My question is to the Minister for Technology, Mr Gordon Rich-Phillips, and I ask the minister: can the minister inform the house of any outcomes for Victorian companies from the 2013 BIO International Convention?



Hon. G. K. RICH-PHILLIPS (Minister for Technology) -- I thank Ms Crozier for her question and for her interest in the Victorian biotechnology sector. Last month I was very pleased to lead a delegation of Victorian biotechnology companies to attend the 2013 BIO International Convention in Chicago. This is an annual global convention on biotechnology for people from around the world. It is a very substantial event which has been conducted in the United States over a number of years.


It is an event which the Victorian government for successive years -- and indeed successive governments -- has been very pleased to participate in and ensure that there is a very strong presence at, which highlights the significance of the Victorian biotechnology sector.


Over the last two decades this is a sector which has grown in Victoria to be very substantial. There is more than $35 billion in terms of market capitalisation of biotechnology companies based here in Victoria. I am delighted to inform the house that Victoria was the single largest Australian jurisdiction to be represented at that convention in Chicago last month. The Victorian presence and the Victorian companies there were very prominent in their participation in BIO 2013.


One of the jurisdictions that is recognised as being very strong in biotechnology is the state of Massachusetts, and Boston in particular. While in Chicago last month I was delighted to announce a partnership in conjunction with the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center for a new Building Global Bridges program, which will provide matching funding from the Massachusetts government with funding from the Victorian government to allow for collaboration and product development between Victorian biotechnology companies and those from Massachusetts. This is a great opportunity for our Victorian companies to get a foothold in the United States market. Massachusetts has been very strong in promoting its biotechnology sector. Indeed, it has a program where it promotes a state spend on biotechnology of $1 billion over 10 years.


Last year I was very pleased to meet with Dr Susan Windham-Bannister, the president of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. She talked about the program Massachusetts has to spend $1 billion over 10 years.


It is worth reflecting that successive Victorian governments over the last 15 years have in fact invested $1.8 billion in biotechnology-related infrastructure and programs. As a state jurisdiction, we are punching well above our weight, and successive governments have contributed to that spend. We have a great story to tell in biotechnology in this state: $1.8 billion invested over 15 years, which is well above many comparable jurisdictions. That places us in a very competitive position with other jurisdictions.


I was delighted last month in Chicago to announce the new global futures program with Massachusetts.


This will allow for partnership and for innovation and collaboration between Massachusetts companies and Victorian companies, allow our companies to get a foothold into the United States market and ensure that we continue to have growth in a bipartisan way in the biotechnology sector in this state.

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