AusBiotech announces Industry Excellence Awards, new Chair

AusBiotech Ltd

Wednesday, 10 November, 2021

AusBiotech announces Industry Excellence Awards, new Chair

The AusBiotech and Johnson & Johnson Innovation Industry Excellence Awards were announced late last month at the AusBiotech 2021 national conference, celebrating some of the life science leaders who are championing the sector throughout Australia and the global community.

The award for Australian Company of the Year went to NSW-based molecular diagnostics company SpeeDx, which over the course of the pandemic has almost doubled its staff and increased manufacturing capabilities by over 500% to meet demand for production of COVID-related products — namely tests for detecting the causative agent and/or for genotyping variants of concern.

Australian Emerging Company of the Year went to oNKo-innate, a discovery-stage biotechnology company dedicated to how the immune system might be better harnessed to treat cancer. Founded in 2017 by a team of two, oNKo formed a partnership in 2020 with two global biopharmaceutical companies, Gilead Sciences and Kite Pharma, to discover novel therapies in immuno-oncology and cell therapy. oNKo also partnered with Monash University, to base its operations within the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute.

Finally, the Industry Leadership Award went to David Blake, Editor and Publisher of industry publication Bioshares. Delivering weekly independent investment research, analysis and opinion to stockbrokers, analysts, fund managers and investors, Blake has created considerable profile of and value for the Australian life sciences sector and investors.

“Congratulations to the recipients of the 2021 AusBiotech and Johnson & Johnson Innovation Industry Excellence Awards, who represent the leading success stories of Australian biotechnology and act as a celebration of the innovation excellence happening across the country,” said AusBiotech CEO Lorraine Chiroiu. “The companies and individuals recognised have made an invaluable contribution to the sector and Australia over the years, are driven by passion for innovation and technical excellence in biotechnology and demonstrate what can be achieved when vision and commitment unite.”

Separate to this, AusBiotech has announced the departure of its Chair, Michelle Burke, as she retires from the board having successfully completed her nine-year tenure as Non-Executive Director — the maximum possible under the AusBiotech Constitution.

Over the past nine years, Burke has significantly contributed to the AusBiotech board, organisation and industry, having held positions as chair, deputy chair, chair of the Remuneration and Nomination Committee, and member of the Risk and Audit Committee. She has supported and steered AusBiotech through the appointment of two CEOs, two chair changes and the COVID-19 pandemic, the latter coinciding with her own appointment as chair in February 2020.

“The combination of Michelle’s vision, expertise, considered and strategic approach, and dedicated support is rare; she has been an invaluable and inspiring leader and role model to the AusBiotech team and the sector, and will always remain a cherished member of the AusBiotech family,” Chiroiu said.

Burke will be replaced as Non-Executive Director and Chair of AusBiotech by Geoffrey Kempler — a highly experienced chair, company director and CEO in the global biotechnology industry. He has a wealth of experience working across investment markets in Australia, Asia, the US and Europe, including a strong domestic and international network of specialist and sophisticated investors.

Kempler was a founder and leader of biotechnology company Alterity Therapeutics (formerly Prana Biotechnology) for nearly 20 years and remains with the company as its chairman. He also sits on the Industry Advisory Board of the Monash Institute of Cognitive and Clinical Neurosciences and was previously chairman and non-executive director of global healthcare company Opthea from December 2015 until October 2020.

“The Australian biotechnology sector is a vibrant and active community that continues to positively impact on global health care, having played a role in developing new diagnostics, pharmaceuticals and life science products,” Kempler said.

“The global COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the power of healthcare innovation in its response, and the Australian biotechnology industry has been centre stage with its early work in mRNA, rapid diagnostic tests and prophylactics.

“It’s an incredible opportunity and privilege to lead the next phase of AusBiotech’s maturation.”

Image credit: ©

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