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New Hi-Tech RNA Pilot Manufacturing Facility Launched in NSW

COVID-19 has highlighted the important work of the University’s researchers, and how their vital partnerships with government and industry can accelerate real-world outcomes. The University of Sydney announced that is part of the NSW Government’s announcement of a first-of-its-kind Australian pilot facility to develop mRNA and RNA drugs and vaccines to combat disease and save lives.

The $96 million facilities, to be established in partnership with all NSW universities, will include laboratories and pre-clinical trial spaces that will enable early-stage RNA-based drug development. This is a significant milestone in the creation of the RNA ecosystem and future R&D commercialisation, with academics playing a major role in driving developments here in NSW for decades to come. The pilot facility will commence subject to the approval of a final business case.

The region’s Premier stated that the State Government’s funding for the facility aims to attract commercial investment in mRNA and RNA production here in Australia. He noted that the COVID pandemic has demonstrated to the world that it is critically important that we can develop vaccines quickly and for the country to have sovereign capability. He added that the advent of mRNA vaccines and the crucial role they’ve played in getting NSW back on the road to a pandemic recovery is just the beginning of what this incredible emerging medical technology can do.

The University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor and Principal was delighted that the University of Sydney is a founding partner on the facility which supports local mRNA and RNA drug and vaccine development. The University will contribute its world-leading expertise and infrastructure to the development and analysis of RNA-based medicines for COVID-19 and a range of other medical conditions.

The Treasurer felt that the facility would be an investment in NSW’s position as a global force in medical research and therapeutics. Supporting the development of high-growth emerging industries such as RNA therapeutics allows the region to not only lead the way in the fight against disease but to boost productivity through innovation and create high-skilled jobs for the future.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier said that the NSW government’s Accelerating R&D in NSW Action Plan will lead future industries and jobs by building strong partnerships between local universities & industry. The NSW government has already announced the formation of the NSW RNA Bioscience Alliance which brings together the best and brightest at the region’s leading universities and research institutes to advance RNA research, development and manufacturing.

The Convener of the NSW Vice-Chancellors’ Committee stated that the investment in the pilot facility is a significant signal that the NSW Government is considering a deeper investment in R&D capabilities that will, in turn, empower the pilot facility to become more commercially viable and attractive to industry investment.

The medical technology sector in Australia is worth $6.1 billion and employs over 36,000 people. Of these businesses, nearly 40 per cent are located in NSW; making the medical technology industry in NSW the largest in Australia. While the sector is growing, there are significant opportunities to accelerate this growth. It is estimated the medical technology industry has the potential to create an additional 28,000 jobs and $18 billion in the gross domestic product (GDP) nationally by 2025.

The NSW Department of Industry has consulted with medical technology stakeholders in the state to develop the NSW medical technology industry development strategy 2018. It consists of a set of five key strategy areas underpinned by initiatives to promote further growth and innovation in the industry. The strategy aims to:

  1. support industry in commercialising research and development
  2. grow exports and attract investment into the NSW medical technology sector
  3. support skills development
  4. improve connectivity and collaboration within the NSW medical technology industry
  5. improve the business environment.
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