The injection of a further $6 million into a NSW business innovation program will help to propel the state to the forefront of Australia’s algae-based biotechnology industry.
NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW and Small Business John Barilaro announced the funding for the Boosting Business Innovation Program at a showcase of the Deep Green Biotech Hub, which is based at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS).
The hub is a global centre of excellence established in July 2016 to develop commercial opportunities using algae. It is one of more than 80 projects the government has assisted through the Boosting Business Innovation Program.
The program, now worth $18 million, is allowing the state’s 11 universities and CSIRO to work more closely with business and industry to drive innovation.
“This announcement of an extra $6 million will help these and other institutions extend their activities from two to four years through to 2020,” he said.
Mr Barilaro said the UTS hub brings together researchers, small and mid-sized businesses, industry, start-ups and students to create a centre of excellence in algae-based biotechnology innovation.
“Algae has massive potential … and the establishment of the Deep Green Biotech Hub will promote rigorous scientific research, access to biotechnology expertise, interdisciplinary problem solving, and infrastructure and manufacturing facilities to support research and development of new commercial products and services.”
UTS Vice-Chancellor Attila Brungs thanked Mr Barilaro and the government for the additional investment, saying algae biotechnology has the potential to become a globally significant industry for NSW and Australia.
“The NSW Government is demonstrating great leadership with its Boosting Business Innovation Program. The Deep Green Biotech Hub continues to support small businesses, entrepreneurs, industry and students build an innovative, algae bio-economy across NSW.”
He said UTS is one of only a few sites in the world supporting this budding industry.
Professor Peter Ralph, director of the UTS Climate Change Cluster and project lead of the Deep Green Biotech Hub, told showcase guests said that early adopters were needed to show the way and fast-track the algal bio-economy.
“Our approach is unique. New industry partners can see and test the equipment, overcoming the significant infrastructure barriers to entry, and this new funding means we can offer co-investment to small and medium enterprises to develop proof-of-concept products over a three- to six-month period.”
Professor Ralph said new industries and businesses will need vocationally trained employees as well as university-trained graduates.
“These are new jobs and they can be both regional and city based; it just depends on the scale and infrastructure needed to produce algae,” he said.
The showcase was also an opportunity for UTS Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation students being mentored through the hub to present their project ideas.
The Boost Program is supporting activities throughout the state including a defence innovation hub at Williamtown through the University of Newcastle, an agritech hub at Wagga Wagga through Charles Sturt University, and SMART region incubators at Armidale and Tamworth through the University of New England.