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One step forward two back, is NZ dancing into a Biotech backwater?

Spring is here! And August has been an interesting month of media. I will repeat the words of Sir Peter Gluckman, New Zealand risks becoming a backwater… and this is not only in relation to the gene modification debate, but to all areas of science.

Firstly, we saw great content coming out of The Royal Society Te Aparangi, who joined calls for an overhaul of genetic engineering (GE) laws, after finding an “urgent need” for a fresh look at how we might use the contentious technology. The Prime Minister’s chief science adviser has also shared with Jacinda Ardern her belief that laws governing gene editing technologies were no longer fit for purpose.

This was replied to in a media release “The recently released papers by the Royal Society Te Apārangi note there are considerable benefits that gene editing can bring to our lives, particularly in health,” Environment Minister David Parker said. This reply was cautious but encouraging.

Last month Climate Change Minister James Shaw said that his Green Party wasn’t budging on its long-standing opposition to GM but that the Government had accepted it had a responsibility to at least look at the regulatory environment, with regard to the climate outcomes New Zealand needed. Conservation Minister and Green MP Eugenie Sage has stopped genetic work being conducted as part of the Government’s predator-free programme.

The New Zealand Winegrower’s yearly Bragato conference will be held in Napier this month and is one of the industry’s most important events. A leading organic grower has called for a well known genetic modification advocate to be ditched from the line up of a wine conference. Then at the weekend I read the Northland Council joins the appeal against GMO decision

Is New Zealand going two steps forward, and one back or one step forward and two back?

BIO 2019 Taiwan

New Zealand had a small delegation to Taiwan, the feedback from the companies attending was it was a successful conference. I had a bit of a steep learning curve as New Zealand got a free booth and printing, which was fantastic! However, what I learnt is you need people on the ground to ensure the stand is actually put up, and unfortunately we didn’t have any government support, unlike BIO 2019. Therefore, no dedicated people manning the booth introducing New Zealand, or New Zealand biotech companies. I must thank Jacquie Palmer from Pharmaceutical Solutions, and Tamsin Bates from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) who pulled together the booth at the last hour. Lesson, only do exhibitions if you know they can be done well!
This leads us to the organisation of BIO 2020.

BIO 2020 San Diego New Zealand Delegation

The success of BIO 2019 was due to the passion and hard work from key people in the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) Innovative Partnerships team, and this year the industry needs to step up and have greater support for this event to make it happen. BIO 2019 had twenty-six New Zealand biotech companies and universities, BioTechNZ, NZTE and MBIE as the New Zealand delegation. This year we want to see more biotech companies on the stand, so join us next year, 8-11 June as 17,000+ attendees from around the globe gather in San Diego for BIO 2020.
Please register your interest now

AusBiotech 2019

I am planning to attend to the upcoming AusBiotech 2019, 30 October – 1 November, Melbourne . If you are planning to attend or would like to discuss opportunities around this, please contact me so we can make the most of the Kiwi contingency.

BIOTechNZ Member Profiling

BioTechNZ has such as strong and diverse membership base, each month we will be profiling a member. This month is MP Biomedicals New Zealand Ltd (MP Bio), Michael Moray has been a long-standing member and supporter of NZBIO/BioTechNZ. 

Scale-UP New Zealand

If you haven’t already joined please sign up. This is run by Callaghan Innovation, Scale-Up NZ makes it faster and easier for ambitious businesses to find and connect with the people, capital and other resources they need to innovate and grow, here and offshore.

Kia Kaha, 


News and Events

BioTechNZ member LanzaTech is set to expand its carbon capture technology thanks to a new partnership and $72 million in funding.

There’s an urgent need for an overhaul of New Zealand gene editing regulations says the Royal Society Te Apārangi.

VISION, a leadership course uniquely tailored for the bioindustry to capture the synergies between bioscience, technology and business practice, is being held in Brisbane, 25-28 February 2020.

Applications are open for Dumont d’Urville for projects starting in 2020, and close on 17 October. The grant will pay for up to $80,000 in total per project for up to two years. 

The Canterbury Tech Summit is happening on 12 September so register now.

New Zealand’s top scientific body has joined calls for an overhaul of genetic engineering (GE) laws.

The winner of a special South Canterbury business award William Rolleeston says that science will “always win out in the end”.

The Royal Society’s report has reinforced that ‘the Government can’t continue to ignore biotechnology’ National’s spokesperson for Research, Science and Innovation Dr Parmjeet Parmar says.

Scientist behind the world’s first gene edited babies has gone missing, lost his job and is no longer at his post at the University of Science and Technology of China.

Learn more about the Internet of Things at the 2019 IoT Half-Day Conference on 3 October in Auckland.

Join Digital Identity NZ on 18 September in Auckland to explore how digital identity can enable and unlock digital health problems and opportunities.

BioTechNZ Our aim is to raise awareness and increase the understanding to enable our nation to embrace the best opportunities biotech offers to us daily, helping us live better, healthier and more productive lives.