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Looking Back and Looking Forward

In 2019 we saw many young people speaking out about the big global challenges we are facing. ‘We are unstoppable’ was the message from Indonesian activist Melati Wijsen. The 18 year old spoke passionately about the role of young people in finding solutions to the climate crisis. This was a similar trend also seen in New Zealand, with 150 scientists under 30 signing a letter to the Green Party urging a rethink of its stance on the regulation of genetic modification. Labels like ‘boomer’ and ‘snowflake’ are unhelpful, but what is useful is that people of all generations are calling for a science-based approach to the environment for the good of both Aotearoa and the world.

Looking back, 2019 has been a good year for the biotechnology sector, with greater recognition in the media of the potential role biotechnology plays in New Zealand. We also saw research institutes accessing funding as they engage with biotech based research.  

BioTechNZ had a big year:

  • We highlighted the work of the biotech sector and established BioTechNZ as a media go-to for comment on biotech issues.
  • There has been a steady increase in memberships.
  • We sent eleven monthly community newsletters to keep you up-to-date. 
  • We ran three events, one each in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
  • We facilitated a New Zealand delegation to BIO 2019 in Philadelphia.
  • We created a report for BIO2019 on the competitive advantage for NZ Biotech Sector. 
  • We represented the New Zealand biotech sector at The International Council of Biotechnology Associations (ICBA) at BIO 2019.
  • We made two submissions to regional councils and created supporting content for submissions for the R&D Tax Credit Incentive, Medicinal Cannabis Scheme and the MBIE Discussion Papers, and the IP Property Laws Amendment Bill.

Building on the foundations laid this year, 2020 is going to be a year of growth for BioTechNZ. We will continue to grow our membership, and keep you engaged with our monthly newsletter and networking events in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. MedCan 2020 will bring together all aspects of the future medicinal cannabis sector which marks a key milestone for New Zealand. The Biotech Opportunities Report, which will be launched in the middle of the year, will review the current state of the of the NZ biotech industry as well as identifying opportunities for growth (more information to come). We will be sending another New Zealand delegation to BIO2020 in San Diego, continue to co-ordinate submissions on behalf of members and raise the profile of the NZ biotech sector in the media.

In addition to this list, I am interested to hear what is of relevance to our BiotechNZ members and what we should be doing more of. Please drop me an email

BIO 2020: 8-11 June 2020, San Diego, California

The BIO International Convention attracts 17,000+ biotechnology and pharma leaders who come together for one week of intensive networking to discover new opportunities and partnerships. It brings together a wide spectrum of life science and application areas including drug discovery, biomanufacturing, genomics, biofuels, nanotechnology and cell therapy. 

Thank you for the companies that have let me know that they are planning to attend BIO 2020.  If you haven’t contacted me,  please let me know.

Seasons Greetings

Thank you all for being a part of BioTechNZ over the past year. I wish you a happy and safe holiday season and look forward to what we can achieve in 2020.

Kia Kaha, 


BioTechNZ member Zest Biotech believes reducing enteric methane through productivity gains is the way to tackle greenhouse gas emissions.

In other member news, Revolution Fibres has been working with the New Zealand fishing industry to make cosmetics using collagen from wasted fish skins.

Marlborough medicinal cannabis startup Puro has set a crowdfunding record with Kiwis pledging $2.53 million in three weeks. “It’s also a sign that investors recognise this is a rapidly growing industry with enormous economic potential for New Zealand,” said Puro managing director Tim Aldridge. 

The Government has invested nearly $5 million into building New Zealand’s first genomic database with the hope of tackling some of the biggest diseases affecting Kiwis.

Kiwi farmers will be the first to breed low methane sheep as Beef and Lamb New Zealand has added low methane production to the list of traits breeders can target when choosing rams.

A new genetically modified corn produces up to 10% more than similar types, while CRISPR has produced rice plants that are resistant to blight

Do you have an innovative solution to an environmental problem? Entries close on 8 December for Callaghan Innovation’s C-Prize

Researchers in the US have used genome editing to bred hornless cattle.

Save the date for 2020 Natural Health Products NZ Summit: 25-27 March in Marlborough.

Attend workshops on the digital technologies sector Industry Transformation Plan in Christchurch today, Tauranga on 9 December or Hamilton on 10 December.

A new AI Forum report predicts up to $6.4billion of economic benefits for New Zealand by 2035 from AI-driven labour efficiencies.

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.