Our emerging technologies and sciences are powering real world, breakthrough solutions. Innovators in Australia can access some of the world’s best laboratories, research facilities, professional networks and government support including through organisations like CSIRO and the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources.
Australia is a global hub for bioscience researchers, manufacturers and investors. The biosciences ecosystem supports better outcomes for life on Earth and complements our long-standing expertise in health and life sciences and agrifood.
Australia has enviable credentials in bioscience. The cochlear implant, an Australian invention, is one of the earliest examples of improving wellbeing through digital technology.
Check out the new patent box for Australian medical and bioscience technologies. Companies will pay a concessional corporate tax rate of 17% on income from Australian medical and biotech patents.
Our advancements in biological innovation drive products and services like vaccines, pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, agricultural cultivation, genomics, and wearables. During COVID-19, Australia has been recognised globally for our rapid adoption of telehealth and other digital healthcare tools to ensure ongoing support for all patients.
- ASX listed companies represent a market capitalisation of about A$179 billion
- The bioscience sector employs more than 240,000 people
- The industry represents 55% of the life sciences sector.
Source: Australia's Life Sciences Sector Snapshot 2019 [/call out]
Many leading biotechnology companies have set up in Australia, including Johnson & Johnson, Gilead Sciences and Sonic Healthcare. The industry body is Ausbiotech.
CSL is Australia’s leading biotech multinational based in Melbourne. It is manufacturing approximately 50 million doses of the Astra Zeneca–Oxford COVID-19 vaccine.
Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, also plays a major role in our biosciences sector. With R&D spanning precision health, genetics, disease control, plant and animal sciences, bio systems and diagnostics, CSIRO is one of the world's largest mission-driven multidisciplinary science and research organisations. Its facilities also include:
- Recombinant Protein Production and Purification Facility
- Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness
- National Research Collections Australia
- Biomedical Materials Translational Facility
In 2020, Australian Genomics received a A$5 million grant through the Medical Research Future Fund to expand its research network to deliver ultra-rapid testing to more than 240 critically ill children over 3 years.
Synthetic biology is also on the rise in Australia. Bringing together universities, start-ups, large businesses, government and industry bodies, the ARC Centre of Excellence in Synthetic Biology is pioneering new solutions to global agricultural, food production, manufacturing, healthcare and environmental challenges. CSIRO has deep capacity, especially through its Synthetic Biology Future Science Platform. The CSIRO BioFoundry is a state-of the art facility providing bioengineering capability to the R&D community.
Incentives and government support
- MTPConnect, part of the Australian Government’s Industry Growth Centres Initiative, champions the growth of Australia’s medtech, biotech and pharmaceutical sectors. It delivers a number of initiatives of the Medical Research Future Fund, including:
- The A$45 million BioMedTech Horizons Program, which drives discoveries that address key health challenges towards proof-of-concept and commercialisation, maximising entrepreneurship and idea potential.
- The A$22.3 million Biomedical Translation Bridge Program, which nurtures early-stage health and medical research to reach proof-of-concept with the potential to attract further capital and support.
- The A$47 million Targeted Translation Research Accelerator, which improves the prevention and treatment of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
- The A$32 million Researcher Exchange and Development within Industry (REDI) initiative, which leverages the expertise of our research, training and industry partners to drive skills development and workforce training for the MTP sector
- The Genomics Health Futures Mission will invest A$500 million over 10 years in genomic research. It will improve testing and diagnosis for many diseases, help personalise treatment options to better target and improve health outcomes, and reduce unnecessary interventions and health costs.
- The Department of Industry has details about Partnering with Australia on innovation, science and research, focusing on strategies to bring government, businesses and researchers together and grow our capabilities.
- ANDHealth is a national digital health initiative established by a consortium of commercial and government partners to facilitate and support the development and commercialisation of clinically validated digital health technologies across Australia.
- In the fight against COVID-19, CSIRO is working with the research sector and industry using lab-grown ‘lungs’ to study respiratory viruses and potentially fast-track treatments for human trials.
- CSIRO developed a world-first commercial vaccine that provides full immunity against the deadly Hendra virus.
- A cross-Tasman collaboration involving CSIRO, the University of Otago and the University of Auckland program has created a genomic breakthrough in invasive species management.
- CSIRO is using synthetic biology to fight against dengue fever through genetically engineering mosquitoes.
Blockchain and digital ledger technologies
In 2020, the number of companies operating in blockchain and cryptocurrency exploded by 153%. Australian industry players are expected to contribute an estimated global annual business value of more than US$175 billion by 2025.
It’s our fastest growing fintech sector. With its genesis in financial services, this industry goes hand-in-hand with distributed ledger technology, and there is significant opportunity for world-leading innovation in financial services.
Our National Blockchain Roadmap sets out a strategy for government, industry and research to realise the opportunities and address the challenges unique to blockchain. The National Blockchain Roadmap Steering Committee is overseeing this implementation. Four working groups have been established to explore blockchain in:
- supply chains
- cyber security
CSIRO’s report on the future of blockchain in Australia provides further insight into this growing sector.
Pellar Technology, a Melbourne-based blockchain company, processes 10 million requests every day and was the Victorian government’s 2019 Emerging Exporter of the Year.
- CSIRO and the Monash Blockchain Technology Centre developed the world’s most efficient blockchain protocol.
- Adelaide-based agtech start-up T-Provenance developed a smart tracking software solution to enhance authenticity, traceability and reduce waste in Australian food industries using blockchain technology.
The scale and sophistication of cyber attacks is increasing. And they’re becoming harder to detect. Demand for cyber security products and services is growing. Australia’s appetite for cyber solutions is expected to drive local sales to A$7.6 billion by 2024. Another 7,000 cyber security job vacancies are expected to be created by 2024.
Our cyber security industry has a reputation for creating world-class products that are seamlessly integrated into existing systems and platforms.
Australian expertise includes: secure mobility solutions, quantum encryption, AI-driven deception, IoT security, and cloud security.
- 2nd highest level of cyber security in the Indo-Pacific
- 2nd globally for policies that support cyber security
- 4th globally for cyber security R&D patent filings
Incentives and support
Eligible tech companies can access the Research and Development Tax Incentive
- AustCyber, the Australian Cyber Security Growth Network connects firms and individuals with opportunities in the cyber security ecosystem through AuCyberScape.
- CyberSeek tracks the local cyber security job market with an interactive map, in real time.
- The Cyber Security Skills Partnership Innovation Fund provides funding to the industry, and to education providers.
- In 2020, Australian-owned cyber tech company Penten was awarded A$5.4 million as part of the Australian Government’s Defence Innovation Hub program to continue the development of its data protection products. This technology provides protection of information processed, stored and transmitted from portable electronic devices.
- Canberra-based cyber security leader QuintessenceLabs is an Australian start up creating quantum-resilient technology. In 2020, it was officially recognised by the World Economic Forum as a Global Innovator.
Data sciences, digital technologies and artificial intelligence
Australia is an ideal testbed for new products and inventions. We’re a nation of early digital adopters and avid users of technology, with a skilled, diverse talent pool and a growing venture capital ecosystem.
Australia has a track record of success in developing autonomous robots, artificial intelligence, remote sensors and neural networks. We value innovators who think differently, and whose ingenuity can expand existing industries and kickstart new ones.
- The sector currently contributes around A$122 billion, or 6.6% of GDP annually
- Expected to grow 40% between 2018 and 2023
- Exports of virtual goods and physical products enabled by digital technologies worth A$6 billion in 2017 – expected to grow to A$19 billion by 2030.
The A$1.2 billion Digital Economy Strategy 2030 is supporting the full realisation of the Consumer Data Right, and provides funding for digital skills training, tech graduate programs and an expansion of the Cyber Security Skills Partnership Innovation Fund.
US tech giants like Adobe, Amazon, Google and Microsoft all have a significant Australian presence, and multinationals including Hitachi and Boeing use our cutting-edge facilities, are capitalising on our research talent and business friendly regulatory environment. Our flourishing startup ecosystem has over 90 accelerators and incubators to help innovators connect and seek funding.
According to CSIRO, digital innovation can deliver A$315 billion in gross economic value to Australia over the next decade. And there are boundless opportunities for investment. New entrants to the market will draw on our existing strengths and robust data to tap into huge local and export potential.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Australia is the ideal location to launch autonomous solutions in health sciences, safety, energy, infrastructure and education.
The AI action plan positions Australia as a global leader in developing and adopting trusted, secure and responsible AI. To complement the plan, we’ve invested A$124 million in 4 targeted AI initiatives to build AI capability, grow the economy, create jobs and boost industry competitiveness. It has the potential to modernise manufacturing and farming, improve the diagnosis and treatment of diseases, and enhance our defence capabilities.
Australia has a bright future in collaborating, co-designing and co-creating innovations in materials science, precision engineering and advanced manufacturing. The Australian Academy of Science has a National Committee for Materials Science and Engineering, bringing together scientists, engineers and institutions, as well as serving as a link between local and international material scientists. The Australian Materials Research Society is an umbrella body that connects to the materials science and engineering research communities.
RMIT University has partnered with Europe’s leading 3D printing institute, the Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology IWS, to focus on using advanced 3D printing to manufacture and repair high value-added products. RMIT’s Centre for Additive Manufacturing is one of the top facilities for additive manufacturing in the world according to Christoph Leyens, Director of Fraunhofer IWS.
CSIRO has vast expertise in materials research, from early development to testing, scaling up and designing manufacturing processes. CSIRO’s facilities include the Lab22 Innovation Centre for Additive Manufacturing, FloWorks Centre for Industrial Flow Chemistry, the Biomedical Materials Translational Facility and the joint Swinburne CSIRO Industry 4.0 Testlab in Composite Additive Manufacturing.
Australia’s burgeoning manufacturing, energy, renewables and resources, and infrastructure sectors are supported by a growing network of connected devices. Automation is a critical part of this success, supported by a quantitative understanding of the development, lifecycle and serviceability of its tools.
Computational metallurgy applies computational science to metallic material systems. Applications include additive manufacturing, surface hardening, corrosion, surface characterisation and hardfacing, to create products that reduce wear, resist external impact and extend the life of metals.
CSIRO’s Lab22 Innovation Centre is one of Australia's leading centres for metallic additive manufacturing, with broad expertise and capability including computational metallurgy. It develops innovative materials and additive manufacturing techniques for the space, defence and medical Industries. Its partners include NASA JPL, Boeing and Chevron Corporation.
- Advanced Material Solutions in South Australia has developed a super-strong titanium membrane. It’s the only one of its kind, is unaffected by salt or chemicals including chlorine, and can be adjusted to screen out specific materials down to 0.05 microns.
- CSIRO worked with Melbourne manufacturer Amaero Engineering to explore the use of conformal cooling in 3D printed die cast tooling, using computational modelling. They developed an innovative solution using clever simulations.
The A$150 million Sydney Nanoscience Hub is a world-class centre for nanoscale research and education. It houses labs, core nanofabrication and characterisation facilities, and is jointly funded by the Commonwealth Education Infrastructure Fund and the University of Sydney.
The University of Queensland hosts the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology. An integrated multi-disciplinary research institute bringing together the skills of world-class researchers, its work includes precision nanomedicine and agriculture nanotechnology.
- CSIRO’s cutting-edge nano coatings include silicon-based mesoporous coating and microspheres coating. Its state of the art facilities produce thin film materials unique in Australia, and its technology has been adopted by the Royal Australian Mint and the Australian Institute of Sport.
- At UQ, nanotechnology is being used to improve the performance of sugarcane waste when it is turned into bio-based single-use packaging materials. Adding a small amount of nanofibres to sugarcane pulp leads to a significant improvement to its mechanical properties as well as increasing the shelf-life of food due to the high oxygen and moisture barrier properties.
Commercialising quantum technologies could create an A$86 billion global industry by 2040. Australia’s world-class quantum research capabilities and industry are underpinned by its leading researchers and state of the art facilities.
Australia has myriad opportunities to innovate and invest in this space, from health sciences to fintech and natural resources.
CSIRO’s quantum technologies roadmap outlines a path to 2040, when Australia could generate over A$4 billion in revenue and 16,000 new jobs across computing, sensing and measurement, and communications.
The University of New South Wales is host to the Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology which is attracting the world’s top researchers thanks to the Taskforce’s dedicated visas. You can listen to an interview about the global talent that has joined the centre.
Australia has an enthusiastic and diverse robotics community. CSIRO’s Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group is a leader in advanced research and development of applied robotics and autonomous systems, and comprises research scientists, post-doc fellows, engineers, students and industrial trainees.
The Robotics Australia Network connects members with government, industry, researcher, investors and more, in its quest to build a robust and world-class ecosystem for robotics.
The Australian Robotics and Automation Association Inc. is a professional society that has been hosting the annual Australasian Conference on Robotics and Automation since 1999.
The Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources has information about Partnering with Australia on innovation, science and research, focusing on Australia’s strategies to bring government, businesses and researchers together and grow our capabilities.
CSIRO's Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group is one of 11 teams selected worldwide to participate in the three-year DARPA Subterranean Challenge and is the only Australian entity. The challenge, funded by the US's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, aims to explore new approaches to rapidly map, navigate, and search underground environments.