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The Biotechnology Taskforce Today

The Biotechnology Taskforce Today (Tuesday, 6 May) Presented The Government With A 28-Point Action Plan For The Commercialisation Of Biotechnology In New Zealand And The Development Of “Critical Mass” For The Sector.

Taskforce Chairman Bill Falconer Said The Taskforce Believed New Zealand, With Its Excellent History In Biological Science Was Well Placed To Participate In The Biotechnology Revolution.

“We Already Have A Recognised Place On The Global Biotechnology Stage With A Capability In Biotechnology Across A Wide Spectrum Of Applications,” He Said.

The Taskforce’s Report, Growing The Biotechnology Sector In New Zealand – A Framework For Action, Sets Priorities And Presents An Action Plan To Stimulate The Economic Growth And The International Competitiveness Of New Zealand’s Biotechnology Sector.

Mr Falconer Said The Action Plan Was For Both The Biotechnology Sector And Government To Implement.

He Said New Zealand Has Strength And Depth In Large Animal Biotechnology – In Particular In Sheep And Dairy Cows – Arising Out Of The Country’s World-Leading Farms. “Our Biological Knowhow Has Been The Mainstay Of The Economy.

“This Expertise Is Now Beginning To Translate Into Biomedicine And Biopharmaceutical Initiatives, Improved Productivity In Our Primary Industries Through Bioprocessing And Biomanufacturing Techniques, The Development Of New Nutritional And Health Products, And The Utilisation Of Plant-Based Technologies For The Repair Of Environmental Damage.

“We Need To Build On Our Existing Strengths,” Mr Falconer Said.

“This Country Has An Enormous Opportunity To Leverage Off The Biotechnology Sector, And Build On The Unique Synergy Between The Biotechnology And Primary Sectors, To Achieve Its Economic Goals.”

The Taskforce’s Vision Is To Ensure That, Within The Next 10 Years, Biotechnology Will Help Lift New Zealand Into The Top Of Half Of Oecd Countries In Terms Of Per Capita Gdp And “Elevate New Zealand’s Position Of Excellence In Innovation, Commercialisation And Business Practice”.

The Government Appointed The Biotechnology Taskforce In 2002 To Give A Private Sector Focus To The Development Of A Specific Strategy For The Commercialisation Of Biotechnology. Its Members Are Entrepreneurs, Business Leaders And Academics.

The Government Is Now Considering The Taskforce’s Report.

The Taskforce Set Four 10-Year Targets: Tripling In The Size Of The New Zealand Biotechnology Community To Over 1,000 Organisations From 350; Increasing Total Cluster Employment To Over 18,000, From Around 3,900; Increasing 5-Fold The Number Of Core Biotechnology Companies To Over 200 From 40; And Improving Performance From Both Research Organisations And Private Companies, Resulting In Increased Export Values From The Current Base Of $250 Million To Over $1 Billion Per Annum.

Mr Falconer Said The Taskforce Had Identified People, Funding, Institutions, Infrastructure, Regulations And Global Participation As Areas That Needed Attention If The Biotechnology Sector Was To Achieve These Targets:

Key Recommendations Include:

People Develop A Programme To Annually Recruit And Repatriate Key Scientists And Entrepreneurs With The Skills And Experience To Establish New And Innovative Research Labs.

Funding That Industry And Government Establish A $200 Million Horizontal Biotechnology Investment Fund Which Will Be Available To Provide Support For The Commercialisation Of Biotechnology Initiatives Through The Long Lead Times Between Proof Of Concept And The Generation Of Revenues From Manufacturing And Sale; And Which Will Provide A Focus For The Attraction Of Overseas Capital.

Infrastructure That Industry Consolidates Its Present Networks To Create One Strong Biotechnology Industry Body With The Task Of Facilitating And Enhancing The Development Of Biotechnology Clusters In The Major Research Centres, And Establishing New Zealand’s Biotechnology Capability Internationally.

Regulations That Support The Sector Review The Hazardous Substances And New Organisms (Hsno) Act To Ensure New Zealand’s Regulatory Environment Is Efficiently Administered And Internationally Competitive.

Global Participation Develop A Dedicated Programme To Establish International Biotechnology Partnerships Drawing Value From The Unique Strengths That New Zealand Has To Offer (E.G. Our Primary Sector Heritage And Application Of Modern Biotechnology).

Mr Falconer Said The Taskforce Was Not Seeking A Lowering Of Biosecurity Standards. “We Want International Excellence. For The Sector To Grow, We Need A Gold Standard Environment.

“Research And Development Work Also Needs To Be Carried Out In Partnership, And With The Support Of The Community.”

Editor’s Notes For More Information On The Taskforce, And To Download An Electronic Copy Of The Taskforce Report, Visit http://WWW.INDUSTRYTASKFORCES.GOVT.NZ For Information On The Nz Biotechnology Sector Visit http://WWW.BIOSPHERENZ.COM For A Copy Of The Report, Call 0800 224 480 Taskforce Membership: Bill Falconer - Chairman Biotenz Inc, Meat Industry Council, Hellaby Holdings, Kiwifruit International, Oyster Bay Marlborough Vineyards And Restaurant Brands; And Director Biologics Ltd. Professor Garth Cooper - Professor In Biochemistry & Clinical Biochemistry, School Of Biological Sciences, Faculty Of Science And Department Of Medicine, Faculty Of Medical And Health Sciences, University Of Auckland.

Michael J Harrington - General Manager, Eli Lilly And Company (Nz) Limited; And Vice-Chairman, Board Of The Researched Medicines Industry. Professor Diana Hill - Chief Executive, Global Technologies (Nz) Ltd. Elizabeth Hopkins - Chief Development Officer, Neuronz. Dr Claire Mcgowan - Director - Biotechnology, Northington Partners. James Mclean - Executive Director, Genesis Research And Development Corporation Limited. Bruce Munro - Chairman, New Zealand Wool Board And Director, Gallagher Group Limited. Ray Potroz - National Secretary, New Zealand Dairy Workers Union; And Member World Executive, Geneva-Based International Union Of Food Workers. Paul Tocker - Chief Executive, Crop And Food Research; And President Of Association Of Crown Research Institutes. Dr Max Shepherd - Executive Director, Zenith Technology Corporation Ltd; Chairman Botryzen Limited And Pharmazen Limited; And Director, Blis Technologies Limited.

The Taskforce Was Convened By The Minister Of Research, Science And Technology, Hon. Pete Hodgson.

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