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NZ biotech companies strong, despite lockdown restrictions

In this issue

  • Sector news and insights
  • Government submissions
  • What’s happening around the country and across the ditch?

For those of us in Auckland and parts of Waikato, there seems to be a common look amongst us – ‘Cousin Itt’ comes to mind. Thanks to nearly three months of hibernation (for Aucklanders, at least), the vast majority of us have seen our hair grow to new lengths. Sadly, hairdressers are still closed under Level 3, step 2, but that won’t stop biotechs making progress. As highlighted in last month’s newsletter, our biotech companies are still going strong, which is fantastic. Kia kaha.

Sector news and highlights

BioTechNZ made a submission on the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (Hazardous Substances Assessments) Amendment Bill, and presenting to the Environmental Committee. The committee is only looking at amendments to hazardous substances at this stage, but we recommended a substantive legislative review of hazardous substances and new organisms, and genetic technologies.

Check out the article Fear of GMOs goes up in smoke | NBR, where BioTechNZ highlights the need for this country to relook at its position on gene editing. If we want to be a low carbon leader, a sustainable food producer and to develop leading drugs, New Zealand cannot continue doing the same thing and expect a different answer.

In other news, the Kiwifruit Breeding Centre, a 50/50 joint venture by Zespri and Plant & Food Research, opens its doors. Based at Te Puke in the Bay of Plenty, and also operating out of Kerikeri, Motueka and Mt Albert in Auckland, its goal is to produce healthier, better tasting and more sustainability-focused varieties. Plus, the red kiwifruit gets the green light from Zespri. Check out the story here.

And for those in the health space a leading specialty vaccine company, Valneva SE, is well underway in a late-stage clinical trial in New Zealand for a new COVID-19 vaccine candidate. The trial is being managed by PharmaSols. As well, Timaru-based biotech company South Pacific Sera has partnered with Auckland diagnostic biotech company Pictor to produce Covid-19 test kits. And Orbis Diagnostics has partnered with Air New Zealand in a trial to test a selection of their employees for their COVID-19 immunity levels.

Plus, Cure Brain Cancer Foundation has just launched the world’s largest brain cancer-dedicated Clinical Accelerator – worth up to AUD2 million. Biotech companies based in Australia and New Zealand who have development projects in primary brain cancer may apply for funding. Applications close on 3 December.

Government submissions

There are a large number of submissions currently out for circulation, and the TechAlliance is working on 19 at present. Below are the two immediate submissions BioTechNZ is working on. If you have any content you would like to go into the submission, please contact me.  

There are a number of submissions that require a wider discussion, eg. Te Ara Paerangi – Future pathways | Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment ( – due 2 March 2022. We will engage with our members on this early next year.

What’s happening around the country and across the ditch? 

MedCan Summit
New Date: 10-11 February 2022

Early bird pricing for MedCan Summit 2022 ends on 17 December. BioTechNZ members receive an additional 25% off the early bird price. Please contact us to receive the discount code for BioTechNZ members. Register now.


Engage in AusBiotech’s sector events, and view their Biotechnology Blueprint, 2022-2032. 

Have a great November, and stay safe.

Zahra Champion
Executive Director

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.