Queensland's Biotechnology Bubble (2002)

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There has been a strong political 'push' for the creation of a biotechnology industry in Queensland.

Strategic Issues: Biotechnology (noting also ARCHIVE material) includes reference to:

Queensland's Ongoing Challenge: Smart State includes reference to a government venture capital fund for biotechnology ventures.

And this effort has been seen to have the potential to produce solid commercial results because international venture capital participation may be attracted.

Success: Courage can bring success. Premier Beattie now has clear evidence that his push to develop a biotechnology industry in Queensland is working. This started 3 years ago and seemed improbable because Queensland's traditional industries are not science based, and there has been a lack of capital which always forced scientists with good ideas to take them offshore. Beattie led missions to annual Biotechnology Industry Association meetings, and launched taxpayer funded research infrastructure. With this intervention and large spending results have to be demonstrated. Now CBIC World markets is to invest $40m in a venture capital fund established for Australian biotechnology - which is run by Brisbane's CM Capital Investments. This shows that Queensland's biotechnology is taken seriously in North America. Beattie had visited Texas in 1998 to see how a previously mining and agricultural economy had been rebuilt by attracting IT facilities - and based his strategy on this (Franklin M. 'Germ of an idea grows bigger than Texas', Courier Mail, 15/6/02)

Unfortunately, while there will undoubtedly be some (and hopefully many) real successes, the methods being used to advance the biotechnology sector are amateurish. In particular:

In practice problems in achieving commercial gains are being reported [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].

A more general account of the problems arising from methods such as those used for biotechnology are outlined in A Commentary on Smart State: Illustrating Queensland's Lack of Serious Public Policy; and About Queensland's R&D Strategy.

A Commentary on Smart State also suggests more realistic ways to create an environment in which biotechnology might become more commercially successful - by:

June 2002 - and modified subsequently