Speech at the launch of the Centre of Excellence in Synthetic Biology 

Sydney NSW

I begin by acknowledging the Wallumattagal clan of the Dharug Nation, the traditional custodians of this land, and pay my respects to the Elders both past and present.

I would also like to pay my respects to any First Nations people attending today.

It is my pleasure to be here to launch the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence in Synthetic Biology.

I want to thank you for inviting me – and I acknowledge my colleague Jason Clare, the Minister for Education, for his work with the ARC in supporting Australian research.

I understand the pandemic has delayed the centre’s official unveiling, so it’s great to be here to formally acknowledge the fantastic work I know you’re already doing.

I would like to acknowledge Distinguished Professor Craig Simmons from the Australian Research Council; Macquarie University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Bruce Dowton; and the Mayor of Ryde, Jordan Lane.

Foremost, on behalf of the Albanese Government, I want to congratulate the Centre Director, Distinguished Professor Ian Paulsen, and his entire team, for leading this research centre.

I am seriously impressed by your ambition – and as Minister for Science, I want to support ambition wherever I find it.

This work will create biological pathways and enzymes entirely new to nature. It is taking this deep understanding of microbial life and transforming that knowledge into new designs for synthetic microbes. 

What is inspirational about this work is how many sectors it can be leveraged to support: in health, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, food production and tackling environmental challenges.

It is by backing such great Australian know-how and having faith in our ideas that the Albanese Government wants to drive Australia to achieve great things in science.

To that end, the Government, through the Australian Research Council, has provided $35 million for this centre.

And industry partners, many of whom are represented here today, have provided a further $15 million.

The end result is an exciting venture at the cutting edge of science.

The centre will help create new industries, which will have enduring benefits, both economically and socially.

It can help to establish an environmentally sustainable biomanufacturing industry by turning waste into fuel and bioplastics.

It is projected that, by 2025 biochemicals and biofuels will be a $1.4 trillion global industry.

The biomanufacturing industry in Australia will open up new employment opportunities, including in rural parts of the country, attract investment and boost Australia's overall balance of trade.

The centre can help to grow biomanufacturing and biotech in Australia through international links, start-up support, and by attracting and retaining talent.

Your endeavours here will provide a hub for collaboration with more than 240 researchers across 18 national and international universities and research institutions.

It has brought together Macquarie University and the Australian National University to develop work on plastics degradation and recycling.

And this work has already successfully supported two start-ups – Samsara and Number 8 Bio.

Samsara is an enviro-tech company creating recycling aimed at putting an end to plastic pollution.

Number 8 Bio is a cattle feed supplement company making feed additives aimed at enhancing agricultural productivity and eliminating greenhouse gas emissions. 

The centre has more than 18 industry partners, strong evidence of the prospects for practical application and commercialisation of these emerging technologies.

As I mentioned, many are represented here today and include: NSW Department of Primary Industries, Bioplatforms Australia, Bondi Bio, Cemvita Factory, Lanzatech, and Twist Bioscience.

Congratulations to everyone involved in this inspiring project.

And now it gives me great pleasure to officially launch the Australian Research Council Centre for Excellence in Synthetic Biology here at Macquarie University.