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Bio Technology : July 2009
AusBioFEATURE Innovation Investment Follow-on Fund $83m for venture capital in the Innovation Investment Follow-on Fund, will be a mechanism to allow reinvestment and boost investor confidence. National Enabling Technologies Strategy $38.2m over four years will provide a framework for the responsible development of biotechnology and nanotechnology; national measurement standards; community engagement and debate; and support industry identify beneficial applications of these technologies to enhance national productivity and competitiveness. Super Science – future industries $504m will deliver new facilities to support cutting-edge biological discovery and biotechnology development; for the study of genes, proteins and cell products; the manufacture of biotechnology products; to support new drug discovery, novel cell therapies and development of nano-medicines; an online biodiversity database linking information held in Australian biological collections; facilities to support nano-scale research; and funds to support an EMBL partner laboratory. Super science fellowships 100 early career fellowships in biotechnology, nanotechnology, marine and climate science, space science and astronomy. Additional funding To support indirect costs of research in universities, increase research capacity and support collaborative work with industry. Increased postgraduate awards Increases in both number and value of awards, to support high quality masters and PhD students. Full details of the new initiatives can be found at: www.innovation.gov.au/budget With the 2009 budget, the Australian Government also released its innovation policy agenda to 2020: Powering Ideas: an innovation agenda for the 21st century. This may also be accessed on the link above. Employee share scheme tax concessions Disappointingly, amongst the Budget’s other measures was an announcement of new measures targeting eligibility for the employee share scheme tax concessions, which are expected to provide $200m back to Government over the forward estimates. In a budget that recognised the importance of supporting small to medium innovative businesses thorough an R&D tax credit, it is disappointing to see this new burden on companies. Funds push for biotechs 14 Australasian BioTechnology Volume 19 • Number 2 • July 2009 Biotech sector chases $600m lifeline to buoy 1200 companies Biotech research funding ‘precarious’ Small, rapidly growing companies often do not have the ability to reward employees appropriately and so use parcels of shares as incentives and rewards. This change appears to have been designed for the top end of town and has wrongly captured small companies who are striving to make a positive contribution to Australia. AusBiotech has spoken with key accounting firms and made a submission to the government on behalf of its members. The key point in the submission is that companies receiving the 45% refundable tax credit ought to be exempt from paying tax on employee share packages. The exemption recognises the need for companies to mature innovation and retain highly skilled workers. Measures affecting big pharma Large pharmaceutical companies were disappointed by the Government’s decisions: to reintroduce legislation forcing the pharmaceutical industry to fund the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee; that for the first time since 1988, there will be no Government support program for Australia’s pharmaceutical industry; and to cut its investment in the PBS by $175m over five years. However the sector welcomed the tax credit for companies with a turnover of more than $20m per annum and was significantly pleased that it will be open to foreign-owned companies. Funds plea