Part one of our four-part spotlight on Australia. In this series of short articles, we profile Australia and three of its main cities for life sciences innovation: Melbourne, Brisbane, and Sydney.

The latest Scientific American Worldview Scorecard 2015 ranked Australia number four in biotechnology in the world. Significantly, Scientific American commented that if ranking was based purely on productivity, Australia would rank number two in the world. The sector has become the largest high-technology exporter and is the largest manufacturing industry investor in R&D in Australia. Collaboration with public research institutes and universities is the norm and strongly supported by the government.

One such public institute, CSIRO, is Australia’s national research and development organisation. In 2014, it ranked in the top 1% globally for its research impact in thirteen areas including agriculture, biology, medicine, and plant and animal science. Globally CSIRO is the 25th largest producer of PCT patent applications amongst government and research institutes, mainly filing in biotechnology.

The country has around 420 life sciences companies with a strong presence in agritech, biomedicine, and medtech, as well as emerging strengths in foodtech and cleantech. 104 companies are public with a total market capitalisation AUD67 billion (USD48 billion). Together, these companies invest around AUD1 billion (USD717 million) in R&D annually.

Australia performs strongly in M&A and partnering activities across the life sciences sector globally. As examples, CSL acquired the Novartis flu business which became available through the Novartis-GSK asset swap in 2014. Leading Australian dietary supplement company Swisse entered a high-profile partnership with global healthcare companies Proctor & Gamble and Teva in 2013. Also in 2013, DSM opened its biologics manufacturing plant in Brisbane in partnership with the Australian and Queensland government. In 2008, Sanofi acquired the consumer business of Symbion and now owns several global natural product brands. Only two months ago, Novartis announced the acquisition of Spinifex Pharmaceuticals, a biotech company spun out of the University of Queensland ten years ago.

In this series of short articles, we profile three of the main cities for life sciences innovation in Australia: Melbourne, Brisbane, and Sydney.


Australia’s comparative advantage comes from its world-class science and medical research, its capacity for international partnerships, cost effectiveness, and a transparent and effective regulatory system. BioPacific Partners has strong relationships with companies and institutes operating across Australia, providing our Partners with an extended network of their own. We specialise in bridging the best of innovation from this region into global markets so contact us if you think we can help you, or explore our Innovation Portfolio for real examples of our work.

By Emma Armitage and Joerg Kistler, BioPacific Partners

To read all articles in the Spotlight on Australian life sciences series, see the profiles for  Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.

About Emma Armitage

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