Australian state government touts latest research

Melbourne, Australia has had a high level of medical research for 60 to 70 years, and this was put on display at this month's BIO convention in Chicago. And as Amanda Caples, director, science & technology programs, Department of Innovation, Industry and Regional Development, State Government of Victoria, tells FierceBiotech Research, the state has been putting greater emphasis on getting products and discoveries to market, and it is looking to become a top biotechnology location.

Earlier this month, the department announced the creation of 200 jobs and $80 million in work as a result of benefits of a Brumby Labor Government decision for 90 percent of work on the $1 billion Parkville Comprehensive Cancer Center to be sourced locally.

The government also is interested in furthering its stem cell research. In 2008, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine and the government announced an international collaboration on stem cell research-the first of CIRM's international partnerships. CIRM and Victoria jointly seek grant applications, evaluate them, and make recommendations for funding research activities. Four Victorian and California joint research teams were the first to be funded through the initiative. The first grants were announced last year, and Caples said the government has been delighted with the relationship and has participated in another round of applications, which are going through system now.

And at BIO 2010 the Victorian Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and the University of Sydney detailed research on two new peptides in the genome of platypus, which could be used to combat multi-drug resistant bacteria.

Achievements like this one have been driven by three Biotechnology Strategic Development Plans developed since 2001 that are based on a partnership between the government, the research community and industry. The  government is currently developing its fourth Biotechnology Strategic Development Plan. As it notes in its 2009 annual report, Victoria is home to seven life science companies with market capitalization greater than $250 million: CSL, Sigma, Biota, Cellestis, Acrux, Universal Biosensors and ChemGenex.

The nation as a whole  is looking to reach out to other countries. Earlier this month, it was announced that top scientists will receive funding for cutting-edge research into everything from bioenergy and biofuels to vaccines and medical diagnostics as part of a joint multi-million dollar program with India.

- see the platypus release
- get more from the 2009 report
- check out the release about the program with India