How MTPConnect took a collaborative approach in championing Australia’s Regenerative Medicine sector

27 February 2019

Pictured: MTPConnect CEO Dr Dan Grant and GM International and Government Dr Sandhya Tewari with the AusBiotech Regenerative Medicine Advisory Group (ARMAG) at the AusBiotech conference in Brisbane last year.

Regenerative medicine, with its ability to harness cells and tissues to help the body to regenerate and heal itself, has the potential to transform patient outcomes. 

The RM sector globally and in Australia is also set to be an economic powerhouse, with the UK Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult estimating that the burgeoning RM market will reach AU$120bn in revenues by 2035.

Australia has a strong position in regenerative medicine, ranking tenth in global publications in the RM field; second, when adjusted for population. However, many competing nations are investing heavily to build capability and capacity to put their RM sectors at the forefront of research and commercialisation of therapies. It is within this fast-moving and competitive market place that Australia must define where it can best compete and identify the priorities and actions required to make this a reality.

To support this goal, MTPConnect, joined by a consortium of stakeholders in the Australian regenerative medicine sector, sought to author an ‘opportunities’ report on this important sector. The report, “Regenerative Medicine: Opportunities for Australia”, was launched at the AusBiotech conference in November last year and provides a roadmap for the Australian RM sector. It assesses Australia’s strengths and weaknesses and recommends priority actions to elevate the sector and enable it to compete robustly at a global level.

Here’s my “behind the scenes” look at what it took to have a sector-led, collaborative approach to bring out the report.

Bringing the stakeholders together

The report was developed with the collective wisdom and input from over 60 local and international sector stakeholders. A special group led by MTPConnect and involving the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute (AMRI), the Department of Innovation, Industry & Science, Tijan Ventures, AusBiotech and strategy advisors L.E.K. Consulting was formed to provide expert input into the study and subsequent report. Biopharmaceutical logistics firm World Courier was also inducted to collect the data for the study through sector surveys.

It was decided that the project will be undertaken through a mix of primary research, desktop analyses, gathering of metrics and issues-based workshops involving a cross-section of expert and senior stakeholders. As primary research, a set of targeted stakeholders was invited by MTPConnect to participate in face-to-face meetings to discuss their perspectives on key barriers, strengths and opportunities for Australia in regenerative medicine. Prior to these discussions, stakeholders were also asked to complete an on-line survey.

An analysis of the survey results created an economic snapshot of the sector, with parameters including number of jobs, number of organisations, infrastructure / capabilities and levels of investment. Existing data was also analysed, along with the finding of the Snapshot of Stem Cell Research in Australia 2018 report and the outcomes of the face-to-face interviews. The group’s work also included a high-level review of leading global regenerative medicine markets.

Workshops were held in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth with informed and experienced sector participants and stakeholders in attendance to capture perspectives on strengths and weakness, opportunities, challenges and recommended actions for the Australian regenerative medicine sector.

The feedback and discussions emerging from the workshops were incorporated in the report, which was ultimately reviewed and finalised by the members of the Advisory Group.

What we found

Australia has contributed to a number of global RM discoveries, including conducting some of the world’s first human stem cell trials. As a consequence, our RM field is both vibrant and growing. It now accounts for approximately 10 per cent of our medical researchers across Australian medical research institutes and universities and there are more than 30 companies in Australia developing products with a RM focus. The field receives strong Australian Government support through the Australian Research Council and National Health and Medical Research Council and other sector-specific grants.

Australia is well-placed to capitalise on its strong research base in developmental biology, genetics, and tissue manufacturing that underpins RM and secure an even more prominent share of the global RM market.

If we get this right, ongoing success in regenerative medicine could be worth $6 billion in annual revenue and 6,000 new jobs for Australia by 2035.

What happens from here

The report was not intended as a comprehensive action plan. Instead, it developed a common vision and platform from which the sector can grow: To create an end-to-end world-leading value chain, from discovery to delivery, that gives Australian patients access to world-class therapies, creates high paying jobs and exports Australian therapies to the world.

By taking stock of the local and international regenerative medicine landscape, we've been able to outline a five- point plan for delivering on our vision for the sector. The report's five-point plan is to:

  • Prioritise skills development by attracting, building and retaining world-class talent
  • Improve collaboration across the value chain to accelerate commercialisation
  • Secure long-term investment by expanding the diversity of the pool of funders and venture capitalists
  • Create a clear market access pathway through regulatory reform and alignment with key global markets
  • Enhance manufacturing capacity and capability to support commercial-scale manufacturing

To guide implementation of the five-point plan, establishment of a central catalyst group is recommended to coordinate and continue connecting stakeholders. MTPConnect is working closely with the sector’s stakeholders, including AusBiotech and the Regenerative Medicine Advisory Group, to support establishment of this national body and facilitating necessary collaborations across the value chain to enable effective completion of the agreed priority actions.

Opportunity to join Australian delegation to UK Regenerative Medicine congress

MTPConnect is a Supporting Partner at the Advanced Therapies and Regenerative Medicine Congress. It’s one of the world’s premier regenerative medicine gatherings, being held in the UK from 15-17 May. MTPConnect CEO, Dr Dan Grant, is speaking at the event to promote the Australian sector to the world. If you are interested in participating, MTPConnect has discounted packages for a 2x1 booth in the Innovation Zone. Please get in touch to discuss your interest.

Dr Sandhya Tewari is General Manager International and Government at MTPConnect