A new national biotech survey report says New Zealand is positioned well in the world, ranking fourth for innovation potential in biotechnology.
The landmark BiotechNZ study analysed the state of biotechnology and its impact and benefits for the New Zealand economy and society. The report is the first biotech ecosystem map for New Zealand and is a comprehensive study into the state and future opportunities for biotech.
It highlights the importance of biotech and how it can contribute to New Zealand’s economic growth and diversification, as well as its ability to help make New Zealand cleaner, healthier and more prosperous.
Growing global demand for biotechnology has led to the development of a global market that is expected to be worth $US729 billion by 2025.
New Zealand’s small but vibrant biotech sector is small but growing, including 211 companies and annual revenues of $2.7 billion. Nearly half of the sector, 45 percent is based in regional New Zealand.
BiotechNZ executive director Zahra Champion says they want to create a healthy, clean and prosperous New Zealand, boosted by biotechnology.
“We are aware the global challenges will not be solved by a single technology and will require collaboration to ensure greater sustainability and climate compatibility.
“We are taking a practical and evidence-based approach so we can harness the opportunities and address key issues.”
BiotechNZ chair Manya Sabherwal says when they began the report, the world was pre-covid, showing demands of the increasing global population and the impact of industrialisation and urbanisation on the environment.
On 22 April 2020, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, was unlike any other. With covid causing public health lockdowns around the world the news showed empty streets, no cars, closed shops and people keeping their distance, she says.
“Subsequently, the skies were clearing of pollution and wildlife was returning to newly clear waters. A few months ago, environmentalists could only dream of this scenario on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.
“The pandemic has displayed a contrasting consequence. It has created a positive impact on the environment, however, it has also executed worldwide destruction on human lives.
“Due to our relative isolation, New Zealand has experienced a different journey to the rest of the world. However, we are still faced with the same issues as the rest of the world, including the need to keep moving towards a more sustainable and carbon-neutral economy.
“For years, the demands of an increasing population, industrialisation and urbanisation have mounted and we are now in crisis. It’s time for a change, accountability and innovative solutions.
“Let’s learn from this period of disruption and encourage entrepreneurs and innovators to work alongside the government to create the future we want.
“We can use this experience to maximise the opportunity of new ways of working, consuming, travelling and living sustainably.
“There has never been a more important time to elevate the science of making our world more resilient by sustainably transforming the food system, protecting our environment and facilitating breakthroughs in green energy and biobased manufacturing,” Sabherwal says.
The Aotearoa New Zealand boosted by biotech – innovation for a sustainable future report has been made possible thanks to the Ministry for Primary Industries’ sustainable food & fibre futures fund, Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development, AbbVie, Callaghan Innovation and NZTech.