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New Zealand bioscience sector growing, seeking capital

Tuesday 16th February 2010

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A quarter of New Zealand bioscience companies say access to capital for research is holding them back and a fifth say it is holding back commercialisation, says an expanded Statistics New Zealand survey of the bio-science sector.

The survey predicts that 78 bio-science businesses will bring new products to market in the next couple of years, compared to 57 organisations which did so in the past two years, lifting the $351 million income generated by 267 organisations actively involved in bio-scientific activity.

The latest survey expands the definition of bioscience beyond its previous biotechnology focus, and now covers organisations involved in aquaculture, medical testing, microbes and horticulture, as well as the predominant area of innovative foods and human nutrition, human biomedical science and drug discovery.

The survey indicates that not only has there been an increase in the number of organisations involved in bioscience, there has also been an increase in the size of organisations in the sector.

The sector created $167 million in bioscience export goods and services in 2009, with an indirect combined income from 159 active and research organisations of just over $7 billion and expenditure of over $4 billion in the last financial year.

Three different organisational groups - core, active and research - have been identified by Statistics New Zealand.

One constraint to bioscience commercialisation is access to capital, and of the 108 organisations that identify bioscience as their primary area of focus, 24% reported it as a constraint to research and development, and 19% as a constraint to commercialisation.

“The results of the survey confirm the major economic contribution the bioscience industry makes to the New Zealand economy,” said NZBIO chief executive Bronwyn Dilley. “Overall the survey shows this country’s bioscience sector is expanding. This industry has set its targets high and is focused on delivering positive returns to all New Zealand.”

Prime Minister John Key said in his speech opening Parliament last week that science and innovation would be one of the few areas to receive additional funding in the this year's Budget, on May 20.

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