Address to the Australian Global VIP Networking and Business Reception

San Diego USA

Thank you for that welcome and good evening to you all – it is great to be here in San Diego.

In particular, thank you to MTPConnect, CEO Stuart Dignam, as well as the Reception’s generous sponsors for inviting me to be part of this networking event. 

I would like to acknowledge our VIP guests who are here with us this evening:

Governor of Victoria, Prof. the Hon Margaret Gardner AC

Debbie Drane, CSL Senior Vice President of Global Commercial Development

John F Crowley, President and CEO of BIO, and

My former parliamentary colleague Ken Wyatt.

And, of course, thank you to all the Australian attendees and our international colleagues for being here at BIO2024 here in San Diego to champion Australian excellence. 

That Australia’s medical science and biotech sector can bring such an impactful presence to such an important global event is significant.

And the opportunity before us all is to showcase our outstanding medical research and commercial capabilities.  Capabilities that make us the smart choice for investment and international partnership. 

I too am focused on raising the profile to a global audience of Australia’s credentials that position us as a global hub for advanced biomanufacturing and clinical trials.

RNA technology is one of many health and medical research areas where Australian know-how is world renowned.

Our health science research is ranked 7th globally, and Australia is ranked 5th in the World Index of Healthcare Innovation.  

Australia is home to more than 1,200 biotech companies, 55 medical research institutes and 40 medical research focused universities.

The world heard about mRNA amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

But nearly 50 years earlier, Australian scientists Lynn Dalgarno and John Shine discovered what became known as the Shine-Dalgarno sequence that allows cells to produce proteins. 

Their discovery paved the way for many cell and gene therapies widely used today, including mRNA vaccines. 

Australia can capitalise on its research strengths to become a leading regional participant in RNA medicines. 

As a sector, it could add up to 8 billion dollars to Australia’s gross domestic product over the next 10 years to 2033.

Late last year we launched a consultation to learn more about Australia’s RNA potential. We wanted to know what it would take to make Australia a hub for RNA development – from the lab bench to the factory floor. 

I’ll have more to say on the Government’s response to that consultation in the coming weeks. 

Because a vibrant RNA sector can and should be part of a Future Made in Australia.

Our Government’s Future Made in Australia plan is about making Australia an attractive destination for bold ideas to flourish and grow into bold new industries. 

We’re known as a “go-to” destination for early-phase clinical trials, with the world’s third-highest number of trials and a world leading clinical trials environment.  

In 2021, 11 per cent of global clinical trials investigating cell and gene therapies were conducted in Australia. 

Our government is supporting the sector with 18.8 million dollars announced in our recent Budget to progress the National One Stop Shop for clinical trials. 

The National One Stop Shop will remove red tape and streamline the process to conduct a clinical trial via a single national platform and set of regulations.

But I’m ambitious for Australia to be more than just a destination for clinical trials. 

That’s why we made medical science a priority area of our $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund, one of the largest investments in manufacturing in Australia’s history. We dedicated 1.5 billion dollars to medical manufacturing and sciences to – among other things – ensure Australian firms can capitalise on their knowhow and turn great ideas into great Australian medical products, 

It’s also a priority of the $392 million Industry Growth Program, which delivers advice and funding to help start-ups and small businesses commercialise ideas and grow. 

This builds on the almost $7 billion we committed to invest in medical research over four years since 2022-23. 

And taken together – including with other support at state and territory level – this support is working.  We are seeing growth in investment and biotech manufacturing capability nationally. 

I’ve seen it first hand at Queensland company Vaxxas, who are here today. 

Vaxxas have developed a skin patch that has thousands of microinjections, which is set to revolutionise the way vaccines are delivered. 

In 2023, Vaxxas opened its world-class manufacturing facility in Brisbane to produce patches for late stage and commercial use. 

The Australian government is determined to see more medical science companies like Vaxxas choose Australia as the launchpad to grow their business – and that’s good news for everyone in this room this evening.

I hope you take the opportunity at BIO2024 to make new connections that will help the sector grow and thrive, because Australia has a valuable contribution to make.

Thank you for your attention and please enjoy the rest of the evening.