Australasian Biotechnology (backfiles)
ISSN: 1036-7128
Vol. 10, Num. 6, 2000, pp. 35-37
Untitled Document

 Australasian Biotechnology, Vol. 10 No. 6, 2000, pp. 35-37


Code Number: au00069


1. Background

The Victorian Branch of the ABA (VABA) has been operating on an “ad hoc” basis for a number of years and was formally established in 2000.

The key objective of the VABA is: “To represent and advance the interests of Victorian Members of the Australian Biotechnology Association (ABA). In addition, to advance Victorian biotechnology in general with respect to all aspects of the associated technologies, related sciences and supporting stakeholders, in accordance with the objectives of the national ABA organisation”.

On the 1/1/00, the Victorian Membership of the ABA was 184 members comprising of the following categories, as defined in the ABA Constitution:

  • 161 Ordinary Members;
  • 14 Corporate (ie commercial and institutional); and
  • 9 Student Members.

The Committee of the VABA held its first meeting on 29 March 2000 during which it was decided to formulate a Business Plan in order to define the objectives of the VABA and establish an implementation schedule for the achievement of these objectives. This Business Plan was completed by 12 April 2000 and a summary of the specific objectives are outlined below:

  • To support the effort of the ABA National Council (Directors) to implement the “State Chapter” of the national objectives;
  • To increase the Membership numbers within the categories of Ordinary, Commercial and Student Members by at least 10%, 36% and 200% respectively;
  • To establish communication and information networks;
  • To establish links with Government and related organisations that influence policy in biotechnology or related areas in Victoria; and
  • To establish a minimum of three workshops for the benefit of Members and the broader scientific community in Victoria.

2. Achievements of the VABA in 2000

The achievements of the Victorian Branch of the ABA during 2000 are as follows:

  • The development of a Business Plan for the Victorian Branch;
  • Organisation of a Cocktail Party on 17 August 2000 to facilitate networking opportunities between Government, Biotechnology Stakeholders and ABA Members. This function was held at, and supported by, Blake Dawson Waldron at 101 Collins Street, Melbourne. The speaker at this function was the Honorable John Brumby, MP, Treasure of Victoria and Minister for State and Regional Development. The function was attended by just under 200 people.
  • A Mini-Symposium was organised on 10 October 2000 at Freehills Carter Smith Beadle at 101 Collins Street, Melbourne. This Mini-Symposium was entitled “Biotechnology’s Role in Biological Risk Management” - A case study using the recent legionella experience in Victoria for managers, technologist, government advisers, media and the legal profession, in the management of biological and environmental risks. This function was supported by Oxoid, the Australian Society for Microbiology (ASM) and Freehills Carter Smith Beadle and was attended by just under 100 people.
  • The first of a series of Round Table Discussion Forums was organised on 14 November 2000 at Freehills Carter Smith Beadle with the theme for this first discussion forum being “Biotechnology Companies - High Risk, High Return”. This function was supported by Kelly Scientific Resources and was attended by just under 30 people which was the upper limit placed on this forum in order to facilitate effective discussions amongst the CEOs, analysts, fund managers, government representatives and biotechnology stakeholders who attended.
  • The ABA Christmas Party was held on 23 November 2000 at “The Argo Inn”, 64 Argo Street, South Yarra and was attended by just under 70 people. This function was “free” for VABA Members in appreciation for their support and contribution during the year.
  • All of the above functions were very well received based on feedback received following each activity.
  • The Membership of the Victorian Branch of the ABA increased to 131 Members during the last nine months, within the following categories:
    1. 88 Ordinary Members
    2. 19 Corporate Members
    3. 24 Student Members
  • This represents an approximate increase of 71% with respect to new Members.
  • Financially, the VABA increased its funds from approximately $1,400 to over $5,000 as a result of the activities organised during the year and these funds will be used to further develop the VABA for the benefit of Members.

3. Proposed Activities for the VABA for 2001

  • Continuation of the Round Table Discussion Forums (RTFs) with the two focus areas being Business and Education. It is proposed to hold a series of RTF activities during 2001.
  • Special interest seminars. It is proposed to hold special interest seminars in topical biotechnology areas such as, “GM Foods” and “the Consequences of Sequencing and Owning the Human Genome” etc.
  • Participation of the VABA in an “Innovation and Biotechnology Week” activity during 2001
  • Facilitation and preparation for the National ABA Conference in Melbourne in 2002
  • Facilitation of a biotechnology “Career Development” activity in Victoria during 2001
  • Facilitating and establishing Networking activities and Databases for the benefit of ABA Members, as well as the broader biotechnology community in Victoria.
  • Continuation of regular monthly electronic Newsletters through the ABA List Server
  • Organisation of a Christmas Party towards the end of 2001.

The VABA would like to thank Victorian ABA Members for their support during the year and encourages Members, who wish to participate or assist with any of the proposed Victorian activities mentioned above, to contact any of the current VABA committee members listed below.

Scott Carpenter 9248 6833

Noelene Treloar 9217 4138

George Lovrecz 9662 7100

James Cherry 9288 1577

Mark Richardson 9679 3000

Greg Lonergan 9214 8714

Mark Hogarth 9287 0685

Kathryn Harrison 9819 1664

Anthony Coulepis 9208 4304

David Tribe 9344 5703

The VABA Committee would like to express their thanks and appreciation to the retiring Secretary of the VABA, David Pye, for his contribution and assistance to the Victorian Committee. David is retiring from the VABA Committee to concentrate on his other business interests and we wish David all the very best with his future endeavours.

The VABA Committee Members also wish to thank and acknowledge the following people who have volunteered to assist with the VABA activities mentioned above during 2001: Larry Ward, Angela Cosgriff, Samantha George, Amanda Jones, Serina Cucuzza, Warrick Glynn, Emma Langton-Bunker.

We would like to wish all ABA Members a safe and enjoyable time during the festive season.

Scott Carpenter (Chair of the VABA) on behalf of the VABA Committee


Over the past year, the NSW Branch has organised four meetings for its local members.

Biotechnology in the Park took place on May 4, and showcased two dynamic biotechnology companies located at the Australian Technology Park, eBioinformatics and Johnson and Johnson Research P/L. The evening started with drinks followed by a tour of the JJR’s impressive new laboratories. Dr. Andrew Baker (JJR and NSW ABA Committee member) and Dr Greg Arndt then outlined the cutting edge research being carried out at JJR on the diagnosis and treatment of genetically determined diseases. Dr Tim Littlejohn, founder and CSO of eBioinformatics, followed with a lively presentation on the current status of bioinformatics and the exciting prospects for his company, one of the pioneers in the field. Over 50 people enjoyed the evening, for which we must thank the two companies

A meeting to discuss the latest issues relating to the gene technology bill that had recently been tabled in Parliament was planned for August 9 at the premises of the NSW Dept of State and Regional Development. However, due to airline scheduling difficulties, the invited speaker was unable to arrive in time. The enthusiastic crowd of 30, who had been generously fed and watered by the NSW DSRD, were instead treated to impromptu presentations including: the evolution of Biotech Australia into the Human Therapeutics Group and its listing of the commercialisation vehicle, Pi2 Limited; advice and information about the biopartnering meeting (CALBIO 2000) about to take place in San Diego under the auspices of BioCom and at which the New South Wales Government planned a significant presence because of its sister state relationship with the State of California; and the activities of the ABA in New South Wales.

New Millenium Medicine: Alternative or Genetic was hosted in conjunction with Australian Science Communicators in their Science in the Pub series at the Harlequin Inn on August 30. The speakers were John Shine, presenting the case for future treatments based upon detailed knowledge of patient genetics, and Alan Bensoussan, discussing the place of alternative therapies. The discussion was compered by the inimitable Paul Willis of the ABC. It was well attended and very well received, and was indeed given accolades as “one of the very best ever Science in the Pub events”

Release of the 4th Edition of the Deloitte Biotech Index was presented by Glen Sanford on 7 November, and provided an interesting, informative and encouraging view of the rise of Australian biotechnology.

Finally, although it was in fact a national ABA event, mention should be made of the Industry Networking Event hosted by the ABA and sponsored by six of its Corporate Members, Winning Biotech Business. This was held on September 29 during the Olympic Games, at the Business Club Australia premises at Darling Harbour. Excellent presentations were made by the Federal Minister for Trade, the Hon Mark Vaile, Glen Sanford of Deloitte, Touche and Tohmatsu, and Tim Wawn of Gradipore Ltd, followed by a period for networking between Australian and overseas participants. The meeting attracted some 170 attendees and was widely recognised as having been a significant success.

The NSW Branch Committee met twice during the year (4 May and 7 November). Its initiatives over and above the local meetings have included the establishment of a website (thanks to Rachel Shepherd). It has interacted with the NSW State Government, and it has established e-mail lists both of NSW ABA members and of non-members with an interest in biotechnology. A series of local meetings have been planned for 2001, which will be reported in the next issue of the Journal.

Neil Willetts


Industry Roundtable

The Canberra Region Branch held its first ACT-funded industry roundtable on 25 October. The meeting was very successful, with 40 attendees including many new faces.

The meeting had two speakers - Mr Philip Mendes gave an excellent presentation on business and legal issues for researchers in biosciences. His presentation covered where legal issues arise, and various aspects of licence agreements, startups, company and share structures, startup management and governance and capital raising.

Mr Mendes was followed by Mr Brian Button, Managing Director of AGRECON, a spinoff from the University of Canberra. Brian spoke about AGRECON’s structure and experience since its creation. Brian’s advice to new companies included:

  • single individual or organisation can be involved in every aspect of the business of science;
  • genuine partnerships are required to achieve true commercial outcomes;
  • spinoff private enterprise companies offer tangible and significant advantages;
  • other options (including moonlighting) do not guarantee an equitable share of derived benefits between entrepreneur and sponsoring institution;
  • innovators must retain controlling share/casting vote/power of veto as an ongoing incentive and reward for personal effort.

Lyndal Thorburn


After a busy time leading up to the ABA2000 meeting in July, the ABA Queensland branch committee has been consolidating and setting an agenda for the next year. As all have agreed, ABA2000 was a real success and the organising committee wishes to thank the delegates for supporting the meeting so wholeheartedly, the ABA directors for their financial and moral support, the sponsors, and Intermedia Convention & Event Management for ably organising the running of the meeting.

Since ABA2000, biotechnology in south-east Queensland has seen some significant milestones, with the establishment of new networks (Biolink), a significant IPO (Peplin) and several important seminars covering biotechnology (for example, the seminars organised by the Brisbane Institute). The Queensland branch committee has also been active with a Biotech Update meeting in early October, and a BioIndustry breakfast in mid December. The Biotech Update meeting was addressed by Professor George Martin of FibroGen Inc, and covered important lessons in bringing biotechnologies out of public sector institutions and into small start-up companies. The meeting was also privileged to hear from Garry Redlich about the experiences of Peplin staff in navigating the company through a successful IPO. Greg Harper presented the proposed changes in the structure and function of ABA to branch members, and encouraged them to have input through the Biomedoz site.

The BioIndustry breakfast committee organised its December breakfast to address the topic “Queensland bioindustry - where to now?”. The breakfast comprised a panel discussion chaired by Professor Tony Webber of Clinical Network Sevices Pty Ltd. The panellists were Mr John Kenny, Queensland Bioindustries Taskforce, Professor Peter Andrews, IMBcom Pty Ltd, Dr David Evans, Uniseed Pty Ltd, Mr Richard Joel, The Office of Economic Development for the City of Brisbane, and Mr Stuart Allison, Wilson HTM Stockbrokers.

Dr Peter Riddles, who acted as chairman of the Queensland branch committee for the last year, resigned in November to focus on his role as president of ABA. At that time, Greg Harper acting on behalf of the committee, called for an election of a new branch committee. Branch members should expect to see information regarding this election soon.

Ken Finney and Greg Harper


The Western Australian Branch of the ABA held two more seminars in the last month as part of the ongoing series. On the 30th October a seminar organised by Professor Pat Carnegie and entitled “Environmental Biotechnology - From muck to gold” was held at Swan Breweries. Attended by about 50 members and guests, three talks were presented by Franklin Lucarotti (Swan Brewery) on “What’s left when the beer is gone - the end is just the beginning”, Michael Borowitzka (Biotechna-Graesser AP (Australia) Pty Ltd) on “Treatment of animal waste - the problem and the solution”, and Peter Franzmann (CSIRO Land & Water) on “Atrazine bioremediation - a case study on the Swan Coastal plain”. The evening finished with stimulating discussions lubricated with refreshments kindly supplied by Swan Brewery. The second seminar organised by Dr Guan Tay was held on the 22nd November in conjunction with the Murdoch University MBA Programme and featured talks by some of the MBA students. Cathie Ho spoke on “Biotechnology in South-East Asia” and Aloysius Lee, Panu Boonsombat and Putorn Vongsurawat spoke on “The pharmaceutical industry: An investor’s guide”. Previous seminars in the 2000 series were on advances in medical biotechnology held on agricultural biotechnology. Plans for the 2001 seminar series are well under way.

On the 7th December the Technology and Industry Advisory Council (TIAC) will launch their report to the W.A. Government on biotechnology in W.A. entitled “Biotechnology West: Strengths, Weaknesses and Opportunities”. This is a very important report for the industry in Western Australia and the W.A. Branch was represented on the TIAC steering committee by the Branch chairman, Dr Michael Borowitzka. The report shows that W.A. has a vibrant biotechnology industry and many active researchers in all areas of biotechnology. Many of the WA companies are small and there are clearly several ways that the WA government and industry associations such as the ABA can assist these companies.

Michael A. Borowitzka


Victorian Fermentation Special Interest Group: Proposal to change the Charter

At the Annual General Meeting of the VFSIG held 12th October, 2000 a proposal was put forward to the membership to change the Charter of the Group to broaden the scope to encompass bioprocessing technology. Some members view this as an opportunity to expand the scope of the Group to encompass processing technologies which are closely related to fermentation such as separations (centrifugation, filtration, chromatography, and drying) and support systems (process design, monitoring, cleaning, and validation). Although the current scope of the Group does not exclude such technologies, it is anticipated that by publicly increasing the scope and changing the Group name it will attract, in addition to those working in the fermentation industry, new members working in the food processing, biopharmaceutical, bioremediation and related industries.

The vision for the Group is to remain as a technically focused forum through which process specialists may increase their awareness of the industry trends via informal interaction and networking. With the increasing emphasis on financial and intellectual property aspects of the biotechnology industry, the committee feels that it is important to maintain a viable technically focused forum.

To broaden the scope of the Group it is proposed that the name be changed to the Fermentation and Bioprocessing Interest Group and the Charter be modified accordingly. The current Charter is explicit in the procedure for modification as follows:

  • the Charter may be changed with a vote of 50% or more of members present at a general meeting;
  • notice of the intention to change the Charter must be communicated to members at least 6 weeks in advance;
  • there must be the opportunity to debate the proposed changes before any vote is taken.

With initial notice given at the AGM, the benefits of this proposal will have been further discussed at the meeting held in association with the VFSIG Christmas Party on December 5th, 2000. This meeting will also allow the opportunity for members to vote on the proposal. Written submissions will be permitted at the discretion of the committee and proxy votes will be accepted, if submitted in writing to a committee member.

For enquiries or submissions please contact the committee secretary, Nick Kotlarski. Email or phone 03 9388 0655.


New Directory Takes Risk out of Choosing a Testing Service

No company wants defective goods or materials to reach its markets, which is why professional testing, calibration or inspection by an accredited facility has become an essential part of the production process.

But with thousands of testing, measurement and inspection facilities to choose from, companies may be uncertain about which of them offer the assurance of being independently accredited by a nationally and internationally recognised authority. The search process has been simplified by the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) which has now released a comprehensive new directory of accredited laboratories.

NATA’s new 2000-2001 Annual Directory provides full details on over 2500 laboratories accredited by NATA to international standards for technical competence and management practice.

“This directory is the ultimate guide for companies wishing to test, calibrate, inspect or measure their materials, products or equipment to safety, quality or environmental standards,” said NATA Public Affairs Manager, Mr Paul Davies.

NATA accredited facilities span many types of industry, including agriculture, automotive, architecture and construction, defence, education, electrical, engineering, food, government, information technology, health, laboratory, manufacturing, medical, mining, packaging, science, transport, telecommunications and veterinary science.

“The facilities in the NATA directory have undergone rigorous independent evaluations to ensure they are operating in compliance with international standards of good laboratory practice. With over 2,500 accredited facilities detailed in the Directory, users should have no trouble selecting the most appropriate facilities for their specific needs,” says Mr Davies.

The handy A4-format directory has four indexes that quickly guide users to laboratories that are best suited to their requirements. Each listed testing facility has a separate entry that includes details of tests and other services covered by NATA accreditation, location and contact details.

Order your copy of the NATA 2000-2001 Annual Director by emailing or faxing your order on (02) 9743 5311. Prices are $93.50 standing order for NATA members, $121.00 non-standing order for NATA members, and $154.00 for non-NATA members. All prices are inclusive of GST.

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