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Movers and Shakers


A lot is happening in the biotechnology sector at the moment and it is really exciting to see our members success – keep up the good work! Now is certainly the time to show that biotech is a key part of the New Zealand economy. How can you do that?

Join BioTechNZ to help shape the New Zealand biotechnology agenda.

BioTechNZ has gone on the record to say Government has a critical role in funding biotechnology research, and it’s time it reviewed gene technologies in New Zealand. A leading New Zealand immunologist, Prof Graham Le Gros, admits that research at The Malaghan Institute of Medical Research has been held back by New Zealand’s outdated regulations around gene technology

Global Updates on the COVID-19 Vaccine

The Office of the United States Trade Representative announced last week that it supported the waiving of intellectual property (IP) protections for COVID-19 vaccines. Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) President and CEO Dr Michelle McMurry-Heath responded in a statement: “We’re extremely disappointed that the Administration has chosen to support waiving critical protections for American ingenuity and to delay the equitable delivery of needed COVID vaccines to people around the globe.” Should global political leaders abandon patent protections? Watch the debate on BBC Two.

Crop Biocontrol in Christchurch

BioTechNZ and Plant & Food Research held an event in Christchurch on 22 April: Advances in Crop Biocontrol. With 108 attendees (in person and online), it was a very successful event and I would like to personally thank one of our BioTechNZ Executive Council members, Greg Pringle, who made this happen.

What stood out to me was that, in order to achieve the goals of decreasing and/or rationalising the application of chemical fertilisers and pesticides, there needs to be a drive for cost-effective and eco-friendly approaches to sustain the agricultural sector. However, the New Zealand Government’s mentality of “let the world innovate, and we will take the best solution for New Zealand” does not work, as New Zealand has its very own unique flora and fauna to protect.  

We are underway with the next event in November. Watch this space! If you are not a member of BioTechNZ, please join – the event will be free for members. 

Medicinal Cannabis in New Zealand 

This is an interesting sector, with the convergence of agriculture and therapeutics working collaboratively together, leveraging their existing expertise to develop products, clinical evidence and education. Recently, we saw in the news that Helius Therapeutics and Plant & Food Research are tackling cannabis blight. “This virus was identified in Helius a few months back, and we’ve been working together with Plant & Food Research as well as our partner, BioLumic, which is an agritech company, to really understand a bit more about the viruses that we’ve identified here at Helius,” says Helius Therapeutics’ Chief Executive, Carmen Doran.

I was excited to see Dr Andrea Grant appointed as Chief Commercial Officer at Rua BioSciences. She was Living Cell Technologies’ Chief Executive and has extensive international experience in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical arenas.

Invest in Research and Development – Interesting Fact.

Back in February 2021 Jazz Pharmaceuticals purchased the medical cannabinoid company GW Pharmaceuticals for $US 7.2B.

GW Pharmaceuticals differentiated itself by investing a greater portion of its capital on research and development, developing a suite of products via traditional regulatory-approval pathways, right through to clinical trials.

GW Pharmaceuticals is one of the largest medical cannabinoid companies in the world because of their focus on research and development. Their intellectual property portfolio includes 767 issued patents outside the United States and 57 issued patents within the United Stakes, according to the company’s annual disclosure. Additionally, the company says it has 259 pending patent applications worldwide.


Invest in research and development, clinical trials, and ensure your whole team is involved in the strategic planning. Too many companies engage with regulatory affairs and patent lawyers too late in the  product development stage. It will save you time and money  in the long run. Check out which of our members can support you in this process.

Have another successful month, Team BioTech!

Stay safe

Zahra Champion
Executive Director

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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.