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Trans-tasman biotech projects receive $3.8 million

Hon Pete Hodgson
Minister for Economic Development

31 March 2008
Media Statement
Embargoed until 8pm 31 March 2008

Trans-tasman biotech projects receive $3.8 million

Three trans-Tasman biotechnology projects will receive a total of $3.8 million in grants under the Australia New Zealand Biotechnology Partnership Fund, Economic Development Minister Pete Hodgson announced today.

Pete Hodgson made the announcement at the NZBio Awards Dinner in Auckland. “Together, New Zealand and Australia constitute the world’s fifth largest biotechnology hub. This fund capitalises on that potential, and is designed to facilitate and accelerate collaboration between New Zealand and Australian biotech companies,” Pete Hodgson said.

“By helping New Zealand companies to partner with organisations in Australia, we are strengthening the position of our biotech industry locally, and increasing our presence both in the Australian and international markets.”

The fund, which is administered by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, contributes up to 25 percent of the total project costs, with the New Zealand partner contributing another 25 percent and the Australian partner making up the remaining 50 per cent.

“Grants totalling up to $10 million have previously been awarded to nine companies, covering a wide range of biotech projects including the commercialisation of bone graft technology, cancer therapy, nerve repair and a blood-typing product aimed at eradicating potentially life threatening blood transfusion reactions in Asian patients.”

This year’s projects are:

* NZ Agriseeds will receive $1.5m to develop designer pasture endophytes with Australian partner Molecular Plant Breeding CRC Ltd (MPBCRC). This will allow the development of new pasture grass with improved benefits such as heat tolerance, water efficiency and insect resistance.

* PGG Wrightson Genomics Limited a subsidiary of PGG Wrightson Seeds Ltd will receive $2m to co-develop new pasture grasses adapted to warmer environments with Australian partner Molecular Plant Breeding CRC Ltd (MPBCRC). The new grasses aim to have improved plant performance and reduced methane emissions and open up new market opportunities in countries affected by climate change.

* Australo Limited will receive $281,250 to develop a novel diagnostic tool with the Australian Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN), University of Queensland, aimed at detecting and measuring single biomolecules (e.g. DNA) for use in a variety of applications including virus particle detection and medical diagnostics.


“The fund provides the catalyst for new partnerships and projects that add momentum to our growing biotechnology sector.

“The Labour-led Government had made economic transformation a priority, and this fund makes a real difference to the growth of our biotech industry, returning economic benefits to New Zealand.”

--

Editors Notes

The Australia New Zealand Biotechnology Partnership Fund (ANZBPF) is designed to facilitate and accelerate trans-Tasman biotechnology industry collaboration.

The ANZBPF supports significant trans-Tasman alliances that develop greater regional strength, sustained profitability, access to, and competitiveness in, international markets for New Zealand’s biotechnology products and services.

The ANZBPF was announced in September 2003 and opened for grant applications on 1 July 2004. The fund originally comprised $12 million (including grant and operational expenditure) to be allocated over three years (by 30 June 2007). In 2007 the government announced a further $25m for appropriation over the next five years.

This year was the first since the fund’s inception that criteria have been expanded to allow existing trans-Tasman partnerships to apply for funding for new projects.

Only New Zealand companies or organisations are eligible.

The ANZBPF is designed to compliment existing NZTE economic development services and support schemes offered by the Foundation for Research, Science and technology (FRST), Technology New Zealand (Tech NZ) and the Health Research Council (HRC). The ANZBPF will support development, marketing and manufacturing initiatives between New Zealand and Australia; it is not a research fund. NZTE may direct applicants to other NZTE, FRST or HRC schemes if the proposals received are deemed more suitable for these funds.

All dollar-figures quoted in this release are inclusive of GST.


ENDS

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