Business View Oceania interviews Jeff Malone, CEO at BioMelbourne Network, for our Technology View.
BioMelbourne Network was established in 2001 to support Victoria as a leading research hub for Australia and ensure the continued development of expertise and commercial opportunity in the region. The organisation works to connect members with appropriate industry suppliers, stakeholders, and commercial partners, to foster the continue development and growth of research, innovation, commercialisation, and manufacturing within its sector. BioMelbourne Network is proudly led and funded by its membership base and networking efforts, and currently stands as the peak body for Victoria’s Health Technology (Healthtech) industry.
BioMelbourne Network supports over 200 individuals and member organisations of all sizes, including universities, researchers, manufacturers, and providers of services that support commercialisation, product design and development, intellectual property, and legal support. The association is spread across Victoria’s Healthtech, biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and health innovation sectors, and identifies five core principles through which they deliver opportunity to their members. They are: Data and insights (sourcing, developing, and distributing valuable data and insights to members concerning the sector’s potential, priorities, and needs), Identifying opportunities (working with stakeholders to identify strategic initiatives that support and strengthen the local ecosystem), Advocacy (building and maintaining a supportive policy, regulatory, and investment environment), Sector promotion (striving to be the central gateway for the promotion of Victoria’s Healthtech industry, both domestically and internationally), and Healthtech industry development (seeking new opportunities to strengthen the industry and increase value to members, keeping them informed of sector trends and issues with valuable resources, webinars, and events).
CEO at BioMelbourne Network, Jeff Malone shares his insight into the importance of the association for its members and the industry they represent. “We began as a facilitator of connections between researchers in Melbourne’s Healthtech ecosystem and related industry partners, to help bring their research and intellectual property into the market and translate their skills and experience into commercial opportunities. We started largely with biopharma and regenerative medicine and have evolved since to support things like medical device and diagnostic device technology. It’s been incredibly important to us that we evolve alongside our market to make sure we’re representing the whole of what we call the Healthtech industry, which includes not just direct researchers, developers, and innovators, but also the ecosystem around them.” BioMelbourne Network communicates with their members via a bi-weekly newsletter (In The Loop), AGMs, online and in-person networking events and workshops, social media groups, email updates, and regular publications that are connected to industry news and innovation as they evolve.
BioMelbourne Network has been a critical supporter of the industry during the COVID-19 pandemic- especially given that Victoria was the hardest hit state in Australia. Mr. Malone explains, “We have taken a really hard look at our organisation and what we do in light of the pandemic, to make sure we remain aligned with what our industry needs from a biosecurity and economic perspective. Because the Healthtech industry is key to both- our members are vital contributors that are building the next generation of vaccines, developing and delivering treatments for illnesses like COVID-19 as well as various cancers and diseases, and innovating in the equipment and device sphere for things like advanced prosthetics and diagnostic devices. That’s what our industry does. So it’s been a very busy time for us over the last few years, and our strategy reflects the work we have put in for our members and our industry ecosystem.”
A team of seven passionate individuals, BioMelbourne Network is a state-based organisation that collaborates with industry partners and government to advocate and advise on relevant issues at a national level. Their support has included data, analytics, and logistics provision for projects and initiatives such as MRNA Victoria, advisory panel organisation, and advocacy for national issues including patent box regime development. Mr. Malone elaborates, “We regularly partner with other national and state-based bodies to coordinate responses to relevant industry needs. A recent example has been our work towards an Australian patent box regime. So if one of our members has researched and designed a new medical device and they patent that here in Australia, the income and the proceeds from that will have lower tax rates if it stays here in Australia, as opposed to moving it overseas. So, it’s advantageous to not only do the research here, because Australia’s been good at research for a very long time, but to commercialise it here as a product. This has been a challenge for our members; translating intellectual property into the market. So, our position is to help drive that commercial ecosystem.”
BioMelbourne Network runs a series of training activities, webinars, and events across Australia to help drive the economic growth of the Healthtech sector and take advantage of development opportunities as they arise. The association is currently working towards the introduction of new manufacturing systems into the healthcare industry, by developing a programme to assess Victorian manufacturers on their potential for improvement and assisting them in becoming more globally competitive. Mr. Malone shares, “We are just at the beginning of the process of starting a virtual network. Imagine a Facebook for the healthcare industry that connects industry stakeholders of all kinds across the world and helps to drive networking, collaboration, and innovation. We see great interaction with local community groups online, particularly through social media groups for social interaction, trade, events, and information distribution. If we take that and apply it to the healthcare sector, we give stakeholders in the industry the ability to organically grow their network online and work together towards solving whatever it is they need to solve.” This use of technology will also allow BioMelbourne Network to promote the strengths of their region to the rest of the world and develop global competitiveness in the market.
Mr. Malone concludes, “While there have certainly been a number of very significant challenges faced by our industry over the last few years, they have been met with truly exceptional zeal. I genuinely believe that we couldn’t be in a better position than we are right now. Going forward, BioMelbourne Network will continue to solidify where Victoria and the rest of Australia sit in the world as researchers, innovators, and developers of health technology.”
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AT A GLANCE
What: Association representing the interest of members with Victoria’s Healthtech sector
Where: BioMelbourne Network is headquartered in Melbourne, Australia