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Biotechnology plays critical role in economy

11 December 2006

Biotechnology plays critical role in economy, says new report

New Zealand biotechnology is in great shape and continues to play a critical part in New Zealand's economy, contributing $300 million to $400 million each year, according to the New Zealand Biotechnology Industry Growth Report.

The report, being launched today, is a comprehensive analysis of the New Zealand biotechnology industry by respected international research company LEK Consulting, and ultimately will provide a robust baseline to measure the growth of this emerging sector.

It was commissioned by the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology (MoRST), New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) and NZBio, New Zealand's national biotechnology industry body.

Key findings show expenditure on biotechnology increased by 20 per cent between 2004 and 2005 to $640 million, with biotechnology export revenue increasing by 30 per cent over the same period.

The biotechnology industry now employs more than 2200 people in New Zealand. While the country's natural strengths in primary industries, forestry and horticulture shine through, New Zealand has a balanced biotechnology portfolio with an increasing focus on medical devices and diagnostics, human health applications and industrial biotechnology.

"The release of the Biotechnology Industry Growth Report is an important opportunity for New Zealand's biotech sector to highlight its capabilities, strengths and some of the rapid developments taking place," says NZBio Chief Executive Officer Brian Ward.

"It also demonstrates the growing quality, activity, critical mass and increasing internationalisation in partnerships and business development activities."

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise Sector Director Biotechnology, Dr Chris Boalch, says the report confirms biotechnology as a growing industry that promises to contribute positively to New Zealand's economic development in the future.

"It is interesting to see that more than 75 per cent of New Zealand biotech collaborations involve international organisations. The ease of doing business here, the fact New Zealand is very receptive to investment, and the collaborative and close-knit science community – it's all very attractive from an offshore perspective," says Dr Boalch.

"New Zealand biotechnology has some good runs on the board and the report is extremely positive as we build on these both domestically and on an international level."

MoRST's Director of Emerging Technologies, Dr George Slim, says it is good to see the biotechnology sector growing and having the sort of economic impact hoped for it.

"We are pleased to see the research we funded picked up and brought into the commercial world, and are committed to ensuring this continues to happen," says Dr Slim.

"It's a strong, thorough report, and it's good to have an organisation with that international viewpoint coming up with a positive report on New Zealand's biotech sector."

A summary brochure and the full New Zealand Biotechnology Industry Growth Report and available online: www.nzbio.org.nz

ENDS


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