The $21 billion Victorian biotechnology sector has received a boost with the launch of a piece of high-tech infrastructure and a new state government plan to further develop the industry.
Victorian Innovation Minister Gavin Jennings yesterday opened the $8 million CSL Biopharmaceutical Formulation Centre in the Melbourne suburb of Parkville.
The centre, subsidised by the Government to the tune of $2.7 million, will be used primarily by CSL but also has a section available for the use of other Victorian biotech businesses on a cost recovery basis.
Jennings also launched the 2007 Biotechnology Strategic Development Plan for Victoria, which sets targets of 10 Victorian biotech business with a market cap of more than $250 million and more than $1 billion in capital raised by 2010.
“These are ambitious targets but they are achievable. Six of our companies are already over the $250 million threshold with another six on the way. Our companies have secured more than $4 billion in deals in the past three years and are now spending more than $500 million per annum, reflecting the maturity of the sector,” Jennings says.
Tim Murphy, the chief executive of Victorian biotech industry group the BioMelbourne Network, says he welcomes both the new biotechnology centre and the Government plan.
“The partnership with CSL for the centre is a very effective way of using Government resources, and the Government has been doing that over the years and we are seeing the fruits now,” Murphy says.
Murphy says change in the Victorian biotech industry, which is growing at about 6% per year and is made up primarily of businesses with a market cap below the $100 million level, means the Government’s new plan was needed.
“What has changed is the increased use of biotechnology techniques in other discipline areas, from manufacturing production to climate change and agriculture, so the plan is now trying to leverage those companies and their biotech applications,” he says.