RNA pilot manufacturing facility announced for NSW

Friday, 22 October, 2021

RNA pilot manufacturing facility announced for NSW

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has announced that his government will invest in a $96 million pilot facility to develop mRNA and RNA drugs and vaccines, in order to better combat disease and save lives.

The facility, to be established in partnership with all NSW universities, will include laboratories and preclinical trial spaces that will enable early-stage RNA-based drug development. Perrottet said the state government’s funding for the facility aims to attract commercial investment in mRNA and RNA production here in Australia.

“We are the first state in Australia to deliver a pilot manufacturing facility to spearhead the establishment of a local RNA industry,” Perrottet said.

“The COVID pandemic has demonstrated to the world that it is critically important that we have the capability to develop vaccines quickly and for our country to have sovereign capability.

“The advent of mRNA vaccines and the crucial role they’ve played in getting NSW back on the road to a pandemic recovery is just the beginning of what this incredible emerging medical technology can do.”

Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney and Minister for Trade and Industry Stuart Ayres said the facility will bridge the gap between NSW’s world-class RNA research and a viable commercial RNA industry.

“Our RNA research strengths are unparalleled — we have the research talent, a thriving innovation ecosystem and we as a government are ready to take research translation and commercialisation to the next level,” Ayres said.

“There is also the potential for this facility to be scaled up to significantly increase our sovereign capacity in vaccine production, strengthening the state’s resilience against future pandemics.

“Our world-leading research talent and expertise in RNA R&D will also attract international investment in NSW R&D, bringing companies from all over the world to use our pilot facility.”

Treasurer Matt Kean added that supporting emerging industries such as RNA therapeutics “allows us to not only lead the way in the fight against disease, but to boost productivity through innovation and create high-skilled jobs for the future”.

The Convener of the NSW Vice-Chancellors’ Committee, Professor Barney Glover, described the news as “a significant signal that the NSW Government is considering deeper investment in R&D capabilities that will in turn empower the pilot facility to become more commercially viable and attractive to industry investment”.

“Together, we are creating a strong, research-focused RNA ecosystem and research workforce for NSW,” Prof Glover said. “Universities look forward to working closely with government and industry, to utilise and translate our collective research strengths to achieve real impact for the communities we serve.”

The news comes just two months after the NSW Government announced the formation of the NSW RNA Bioscience Alliance, to bring together the best and brightest at our leading universities and research institutes to advance RNA research, development and manufacturing. The leader of the Alliance, Professor Pall Thordarson, said vaccines are only the tip of the iceberg in the range of RNA therapeutics that are revolutionising medicine.

“A manufacturing capability would position Australia as a leader in the development of novel RNA technologies and the NSW universities are proud to collaborate with NSW Government and industry partners to drive the development of the RNA ecosystem in NSW,” Prof Thordarson said.

The pilot facility will commence subject to the approval of a final business case.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Dan Race

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