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Bio Technology : July 2009
AusBioEVENTS CSIRO’s Future Manufacturing Flagship targets biomedical By Dr Scott Martin Later this year CSIRO will formally launch its Future Manufacturing Flagship, following the January appointment of Clive Davenport as the Director. The Flagship is tasked with providing transformational innovation for the Australian manufacturing industries. Central to achieving success will be partnering with industry to understand their market environment, ensuring CSIRO research is driven by industry needs to deliver the greatest impact for Australia. Four industry themes have been selected as particularly important for the future of Australian manufacturing: The CleanTech Theme targets significant environmental improvements in manufacturing practices for Australian industry. The research includes the development of low emissions materials, environmental sensing and remediation, materials for energy generation and green processes to reduce the emission of noxious and polluting materials. Under the Flexible Electronics Theme, CSIRO’s involvement with the Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium (VICOSC) aims to develop flexible, large area, cost-effective, reel-to-reel printable plastic solar cells. This initiative builds on the polymer technology, which has already brought to the world the banknotes used in Australia and 21 other countries. The purpose of the Nanosafety Theme is to generate robust, scientific data to help bridge the information gap surrounding the safety aspect associated with the use of nanoparticles and nanomaterials. 54 Australasian BioTechnology Volume 19 • Number 2 • July 2009 The Biomedical Manufacturing Research Theme CSIRO has a long track record of impact in the areas of health and wellbeing. Formation of this new research Theme underscores CSIRO’s intention to intensify research activity into the manufacturing opportunities within this fast-growing sector. More importantly, it reinforces commitment to listen and respond to industry needs, particularly small to medium enterprises (SMEs), which make up the majority of Australian medical device companies (90% employing fewer than 100 people1 for example. ), In the medical device and diagnostics segment, Australian manufacturers export on average 96%2 of their manufactured produce and there is great potential in the biomedical manufacturing segment. Australia can point to some very strong examples of turning research into health and business outcomes. This fact was singled out in the recent government innovation white paper: “... the role of innovation in improving health outcomes is well publicised and generally well understood. Australia is especially good at this kind of innovation.”3 However, with 94%1 of the ~$2b p.a. Australians spend on medical device products and diagnostics being imported, the trade deficit is likely to increase as healthcare costs increase as a proportion of GDP. It is vitally important that Australia is well positioned with innovative biomedical product offerings to benefit from rising global healthcare expenditure with the aspirational goal to achieve a large trade surplus in this area. Thirteen of Australia’s Top 100 Manufacturers4 are heavy producers of biomedical products reporting listed