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Bio Technology : October 2009
4 Australasian BioTechnology Volume 19 • Number 3 • October 2009 AusBioWELCOME Welcome to the special AusBiotech 2009 conference edition of Australasian Biotechnology. There is no doubt, and we’re sure you will agree, that the biotechnology sector is an exciting and rapidly-evolving industry in which to work. This year’s not-to-be-missed conference will refect that, bringing you the latest opportunities, with the who's who of biotechnology gathering to connect with business partners, learn about the latest developments in the sector and to network. Commentators agree that Asia is a major emerging opportunity for Australian biotechnology, and inspired the theme of this year's event "Asia Pacific, Region of Opportunities". AusBiotech 2009 promises to be bigger and better than ever, and will introduce the inaugural Australasian Life Sciences Investment Summit, an invitation-only meeting where 40 early and late-stage companies will be showcased to international and local investors. We look forward to seeing you at AusBiotech 2009, along with delegations from around the world. Apart from planning for the big event, there have been other exciting developments at AusBiotech. Perhaps the biggest change was the July announcement of the significant joint venture with reputable publisher, Aspermont, to produce the specialist publication, BioTechnology News (BTN). The joint venture deal is big news for AusBiotech members, because it gives you free access to a quality industry-specific news service three times a week, included in the cost of your membership. Further, two of the three weekly e-bulletins feature an 'AusBiotech Update', to ensure we keep you up to date with the latest on how AusBiotech is working on your behalf. We encourage you to take advantage of this valuable offering by reading the e-bulletins, and letting us know if there's anything specific you want to hear about in the updates. Core business at AusBiotech is working with governments on public policy, representing the interests of the Australian biotechnology sector. We do this via involvement in various advisory committees, through face-to-face meetings with government representatives and via submissions. At any given time there is a raft of biotech-related issues and developments that AusBiotech is involved with and makes significant contribution to. Those currently of note include the Health Technology Assessment Review and the Health National Medicines Policy Partnerships Forum. AusBiotech is will make submissions regarding the measures announced in the May federal budget, such as the R&D tax credit, the Employee Share Scheme tax changes and has recently made a submission regarding the Commonwealth Commercialisation Institute. We're pleased that so many member CEOs and senior executives took the opportunity to attend the recent R&D tax credit briefings held in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. The invitation-only events provided details on how companies could take advantage of the proposed changes to the tax system, and how R&D spending this year might take full benefit of the interim tax offset. A survey, conducted as part of the briefing series, has shown the vast majority believed the R&D tax credits will provide greater incentive for innovation within their organisations, with 76% saying the credits will be a significant or important factor and a further 21% noting the credits will provide incentive. Almost every respondent believed the timing of the receipt of credit payments (ie quarterly or annually) to eligible companies would be a critical factor in their value as an incentive. The tax credits were a welcome announcement for the biotechnology industry, and AusBiotech is proud of the role it played in arguing for the tax credit in the 12 months between its submission to the National Innovation System Review and the federal budget. While the move to the R&D tax credit scheme will not occur until July 2010, the federal government has doubled the cap on the existing R&D tax offset as an interim measure for this year, taking the offset from $1 to $2 million. You are encouraged to look at the timing of spending to take advantage of the new provisions. Further information and worked examples on how the credit will work, is included later in this edition. The tax credits are amongst the positive signs that the biotechnology sector is returning to better times. After a rough 12 -- 18 months for the industry, the beginning of which was marked by the axing of the Commercial Ready program and exacerbated by the GFC that followed, signs are more optimistic. Dr Anna Lavelle Message from CEO & Chair Dr Anna Lavelle, CEO and Dr Deborah Rathjen, Chair, AusBiotech Dr Deborah Rathjen