Australia’s bio-tech industries promise economic security

Australia’s future economic security depends on emerging technologies such as bio-manufacturing, says QUT Professor John Bell. 

“We have bemoaned the loss of Australia’s traditional manufacturing sector but we are on the cusp of a bright new era of high-value, high-skilled manufacturing,” said Professor Bell.“Bio-manufacturing includes technologies that produce sustainably derived and renewable feedstock and pharmaceuticals, and bio-remediation services.

“The 3D bio-printing market, of which QUT is a leader, is estimated to be worth $3 billion by 2025.

“We are finding more applications for industrial biotechnology and additive bio-manufacturing all the time and these processes are becoming more established internationally.”

Professor Dietmar Hutmacher, from QUT’s Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, is a world authority on the 3D printing of replacement human tissue using bio-inks, a process known as additive bio-manufacturing.

“Australia is already well ahead on research and development of medical bio-printing, a strong facet of this emerging ‘fourth industrial revolution’ of bio-manufacturing.

“Additive bio-manufacturing will become a pillar of Australia’s advanced manufacturing landscape and we must ensure we have the expertise to continue our lead in this area,” Professor Hutmacher said.

“It is a multi-disciplinary area requiring understanding of chemistry, physics, biology, medicine, robotics and computer science.

“QUT has already partnered with the University Wollongong and universities in the Netherlands and Germany to offer the world’s first dual Master of Biofabrication and is taking applications for the second intake of young scientists keen to make bio-printing their career.”

“MBD is an example of a firm using biological processes, in this case algae, to clean up wastewater from aquaculture. The algae are then used to manufacture a range of high value products ranging from fertilisers and feed to high value nutrition products.

“Bioremediation services are growing into an important industry for Australia and one that is expanding rapidly into Asia.

“High value products and long term sustainable investment and jobs are a great outcome from advanced manufacturing.”

Professor Bell said another thriving area for Australia to capitalise on was industrial biotechnology.

“This includes new and improved methods to manufacture a range of molecules with medical and industrial importance such as antibiotics, pain relievers and anti-cancer drugs or items like fuels and the building blocks for plastics and paints,” he said.

“Sun Pharmaceutical Industries (Australia) is an example of a major global manufacturer of medicinal opiates for pain relief earning millions of export dollars.”



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