New biotech network aims for power in numbers

By Tanya Hollis
Friday, 22 February, 2002

A new biotechnology network is aiming for a "power in numbers approach" to garner industry and government support for groups working in the industry.

The Australian Networking Strategic Biotechnology Alliance wants to bring together all facets of the industry from students through to researchers, businesses and government agencies.

Coordinator Dr Morley Muralitharan said the main goal of the alliance, based out of Deakin University, was collaboration.

"Information has to be passed to everyone because collaborative research is what attracts industry and grants," he said.

"We need to know how to commercialise, because if we don't we are missing out."

Muralitharan, biotechnology lecturer at Deakin's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, said if people in the industry worked together it would limit duplication of resources and maximise output.

Already about 80 groups have put their names down to be part of the alliance, which is expected to become official by June.

Participants include CSIRO, Agriculture Victoria, Victorian universities, NuFarm and Florigene.

Muralitharan said the alliance working party had also had discussions with AusIndustry and the Victorian Department of State and Regional Development's Science Technology and Innovation unit, both of which provide funding and grants to the biotech industry.

He said that while the alliance would be based out of Geelong, it was not intended to be parochial, but rather aimed to bring together the industry Australia-wide.

Among the strategies already planned are:

  • Links to industry through newsletters, emails, magazines and a website to be set up by Easter.
  • Regular forums and an annual innovation and commercialisation conference.
  • Updated findings, reports and media releases.
  • Grant applications through STI and AusIndustry.
  • Educating students, particularly honours and masters students, in the process of commercialising their research.
Muralitharan said encouraging researchers to have an industry focus was vital.

"Academics conduct research but the outcome must be commercialised and most times they do not consider these factors," he said.

"Therefore Deakin wants to lead the formation of a network alliance based in Geelong to foster new links with industry across Australia."

Anyone interested in finding out more about the alliance is invited to contact Dr Muralitharan on:

Telephone: (03) 5227 2850 Fax: (03) 5227 2022 or E-mail: morleym@deakin.edu.au

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