Biotech on the cusp of a massive growth surge
OECD figures show that New Zealand's biotech industry could boost the country's GDP to $182 billion over the next 12 years – and biotech is sitting on the cusp of a massive surge.
That's what BiotechNZ executive director Dr Zahra Champion believes, as biology and technology merge to form ‘exciting' solutions that will benefit the entire country.
“Biotech is growing exponentially in many areas including the revolution in gene editing technologies which will play a big part in the future of many sectors including healthcare, agriculture and conservation,” she says.
In order to compete on the world stage, New Zealand first needs to create and access highly-skilled talent in new technologies and cutting-edge science.
Champion adds that there needs to be national discussion on the risks and benefits of these new technologies.
“New Zealand has significant capability in early stage innovation and huge opportunities to partner with large international corporates to scale and take technology to the world.
Already, there are some incredible New Zealand companies that are discovering and producing biotech.
One of those is Pacific Edge, a Gisborne-based diagnostic company.
“[It] is working with the Tairāwhiti District Health Board to implement bladder testing for urology referrals so patients can get the peace of mind that they don't have bladder cancer from their easy-to-use urine test. This avoids a cystoscopy and the need to travel long distances to the hospital,” Champion says.
In Auckland, AroaBio designs and manufactures medical products that allow surgeons and clinicians to repair serious tissue injuries. “Their expertise lies in medical device development for soft tissue reinforcement and cellular scaffolding,” Champion adds.
“Nelson company Supreme Health is a plant-based natural health food company producing oil from algae that is being used as a foundation for products designed to treat a range of specific health conditions.
Kea Therapeutics, is set to revolutionise the global pain relief drug market while many other New Zealand firms are creating world-first solutions using biotech.
All of these examples and more show that New Zealand is now creating unprecedented opportunities in areas of technology convergence as cutting-edge and world-first technology continues to accelerate and merge.
According to Biotech NZ, more than 70 percent of New Zealand's export earnings are derived from biology-based industries spanning human and animal health, agriculture, horticulture and other natural products.
Exports include finished products and ingredients destined for the food, cosmetics, nutraceutical and pharmaceutical industries.