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WA’s biotech industry doubles over past 5 years

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Sebastian Tofts-Len
// // A new report from AusBiotech and Grant Thornton has charted the change...

WA’s biotech industry has grown twice in size over the past 5 years, according to a new report from AusBiotech and Grant Thornton.

The number of life science companies in WA has grown from 119 in 2017 to 244 this year (see Figure 1). The growth has led to the number of employees in WA climbing to 23,984 this year compared to 16,936 five years ago (see Figure 2).

WA's biotech industry doubles over past 5 years
Figure 1
WA's biotech industry doubles over past 5 years
Figure 2

The substantial strength of the life sciences sector through the substantially increasing numbers of organisations and the people employed within it, depicts an actively thriving ecosystem.

Lorraine Chiroiu, Ausbiotech CEO

“This maturity is a key factor for the industry’s ability to attract and retain high-value jobs and backs its ability to compete on the world stage in a knowledge-based economy,” she said.

When breaking down biotech industry growth into further categories, WA recorded the greatest increase in the number of biotherapeutics companies (22 in 2017 to 47 this year). This was followed by medical, technology and digital health companies, which increased from 22 in 2017 to 41 this year. Finally, food and agriculture biotech companies increased from 28 in 2017 to 41 this year (see Figure 3).

WA's biotech industry doubles over past 5 years
Figure 3

In terms of sector breakdown, four out of the five sectors recorded an increase. Meanwhile, the number of WA government and regulatory organisations in the biotech industry declined from 6 in 2017 to 3 this year (see Figure 4).

WA's biotech industry doubles over past 5 years
Figure 4

Of the 26 biotech companies listed on the ASX since 2020, almost a quarter of them (6) were WA-based startups: Emyria, Little Green Pharma, Singular Health, Argenica Therapeutics, Hitiq and Artrya.

At the time of writing, the total market capitalisation of these companies is $223 million.

This brings the total number of Australian ASX-listed biotech companies to 192, up from 140 in 2017.

The report notes that the biotech industry has enjoyed support from both Federal and State governments. This has included investments in research and development (R&D), support for skills development and changes in regulatory and tax policies that impact the sector.

And with a new federal Labor government, the industry is likely to continue receiving solid support.

In the lead-up to the election, the party announced investment in medical science, innovation, and advanced manufacturing, as well as support to legislate the Australian Economic Accelerator as part of the University Research Commercialisation Action Plan.

The Party also pledged a $15 billion ‘National Reconstruction Fund’ to co-invest in Australia’s national sovereign capability, including a dedicated $1.5 billion Medical Manufacturing Fund.

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The figures come from the report, Australian Biotechnology Sector Snapshot 2022. To read the full report, click here.

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Sebastian Tofts-Len

Sebastian is an undergraduate economics student and research assistant at Curtin University. He mainly writes on startup funding, launches, events and grant programs.
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