Group to assess platform tech needs

By Tanya Hollis
Monday, 11 March, 2002


A government committee set up to assess Victoria's platform technology needs is expected to report its findings by mid-year.

The Bracks government established the Biotechnology Platform Technology Working Party last year to examine key areas of research and the platforms necessary to push the state's biotechnology sector forward.

Chairman, Prof David de Kretser, who is also director of the Monash Institute of Reproduction and Development, said the group's brief was to come up with a report outlining available technologies, pinpointing gaps, recommending methods of improvement and identifying the roles of the government and commercial organisations.

De Kretser said the group first met in December last year and formed a steering committee, which met for the first time last week.

"We want to really try to build links between having these platforms available and commercial involvement in making them available to the biotech industry," he said.

The committee, which will break off into smaller working groups to each look at specific areas, was in the process of gathering reports on the state of platform technology in the sector and hoped to have these collated by May.

"Then we will have a meeting of the full working group towards the end of May with a view to starting to formulate recommendations in the following months," de Kretser said.

"We'd like to move forward with this report so we can then try to work through the issue of how to implement it."

The working party defines platform technology as infrastructure which requires a large financial investment but which is crucial for the development of good research and commercial development.

De Kretser said a recent example was the national synchrotron research facility, to be based at Monash.

He said another platform technology to be considered was Victoria's ability to produce high quality animals for biomedical research.

Currently, many research facilities with neither the space nor the expertise to produce their own animal model lines had to buy them from interstate, incurring significant freighting costs in the process.

De Kretser said the group would examine the feasibility of establishing a local source of animals for Victorian researchers.

"We will be looking at the pace of change within the industry and how needs change along with that," he said.

He said the members of the working party comprised a range of experts from government, industry and research institutes.

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