Biotechnology science

Dr Faraji Rad from the UniSQ Centre for Future Materials developing a pilot plant disease detection program. Photo credit: © Sarah Green

  • Over 130 biotechnology research centres
  • 2,200 plus publications in the last 10 years
  • Over 200 specialist biotechnology researchers
  • 78 patent publications
    since 2013

Investment and collaboration opportunities

Queensland’s biotechnology sector is part of a booming life sciences ecosystem. Combining our knowledge of biological systems with innovative engineering and manufacturing technologies, Queensland innovators are developing more sustainable and effective solutions to tackle environmental, health, manufacturing, and other industry challenges. For example, Queensland will become a global mRNA vaccine hub with leading healthcare company Sanofi, partnering with the Queensland Government, The University of Queensland and Griffith University to establish the Translational Science Hub in Brisbane.

Queensland biotechnology research is the foundation of several important and emerging knowledge-based industries that are enhancing or disrupting business-as-usual modes of production. Examples of emerging knowledge-based industrial applications of Queensland’s biotechnology science include:

  • rapid vaccine development and manufacture
  • medical additive biomanufacturing for personalised body parts, scaffolds or medical devices
  • biomanufacturing through precision fermentation for:
    • alternative food proteins for human consumption
    • medicines and pharmaceuticals
    • sustainable alternatives for consumables (e.g. textiles, plastics, fuels)
  • food and agricultural enhancements for productivity, pest management or crop adaptation to a changing climate
  • waste management and climate change mitigation.

Queensland is home to a network of world class key biotechnology research and manufacturing precincts and over 130 research organisations involved in biotechnology research and development.

Leading biotechnology research centres, institutes and precincts

All biotechnology research centres, institutes and precincts

Industry-research collaboration and commercialisation

  • Bioengineered foods

    UQ is leading the Food and Beverage Accelerator project to co-develop nutritious and sustainable new products in partnership with other Queensland universities. Researchers are utilising specialist equipment at the CSIRO BioFoundry to enable the rapid design, build and testing of high-throughput bioengineered products.

  • Biofuels

    Boeing has collaborated with industry partners to develop an advanced new aviation biofuel made from sugarcane. The project utilised the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology’s IDEA Bio (Integrated Design Environment for Advanced Biomanufacturing), a state-of-the-art facility, to undertake this pioneering research into synthetic biology.

  • Biorefining

    QUT has partnered with Sugar Research Australia to develop probiotic and enzyme feed supplements for enhanced livestock feed. Researchers are utilising the QUT Biorefining Research Facility that includes the Mackay Renewable Biocommodities Pilot Plant. The facility provides access to cutting-edge equipment and expertise in fermentation and synthetic biology.

  • Bioresource recycling

    QUT’s Centre for Agriculture and the Bioeconomy have partnered with Meat and Livestock Australia to convert wastes from the agriculture industry into valuable products, such as bioplastics. The Centre has expertise in plant biotechnology, industrial chemistry, and process engineering to develop innovative solutions to improve global food security.

  • Vaccine development

    Researchers at the UniSC’s Centre for Bioinnovation are utilising their biotechnology capabilities to protect the iconic Australian koala. The Centre has developed a vaccine against chlamydia in partnership with the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, which is currently being trialled throughout south-east Queensland’s koala population.

  • Biomedical research

    Griffith University’s BioSpine project combines innovative technology that has potential to partially restore movement and sensation in people with spinal cord injuries. Researchers at Menzies Health Institute Queensland have partnered with U.S. Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and Harvard University to deliver this novel neural restoration technology.

  • Bioresource recycling

    UniSQ’s Centre for Agricultural Engineering are taking the technical lead in nationwide research that is transforming manure from various agricultural industries into valuable products that can be re-used back on farm. UniSQ is partnering with Scolexia Consulting, and others, to conduct this large-scale project.

  • Biofoods

    The QUT Centre for Agriculture and the Bioeconomy’s Banana Biotechnology program is revolutionising the global banana industry. Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, researchers have developed a nutrient dense golden biofortified banana, rich in pro-vitamin A. The ‘golden’ bananas have been critical in alleviating macronutrient deficiencies in countries such as Uganda.

  • Aquaculture biofilters

    Researchers at the CQUniversity Coastal Marine Ecosystems Research Centre have partnered with the Australian Seaweed Institute to utilise seaweed as biofilters to reduce nutrient loads and produce valuable bio-products such as fertiliser. The centre is focused on finding economically and environmentally sustainable solutions to coastal threats.

Support for the biotechnology industry in Queensland

Queensland is building on the state’s strength in advanced manufacturing, health and biological sciences, by supporting researchers, innovators, and investors to develop knowledge-to-product pathways. Investment in Queensland’s innovation pipeline and biotechnology ecosystem is encouraging innovative bio-based start-ups, investors, and researchers to maximise the opportunities resulting from the growing global bioeconomy.

The Queensland Government’s $142 million Advance Queensland – Innovation for a Future Economy 2022–2032 roadmap (PDF, 1.14MB) builds on the success of Queensland’s investment of $755 million in innovation since 2015. A key priority of the roadmap is further investment to support the translation of our world-class research and collaborations into commercialisation opportunities.

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Associate Professor Dana Stanley from CQUniversity Institute for Future Farming Systems working on probiotic nutritional supplements for improved chicken health. Credit: CQUniversity Australia.

Photo credit: © CQUniversity Australia

Queensland’s growing biomanufacturing and biorefining capabilities are a response to the increasing demand for clean technology. The Queensland Biofutures 10-Year Roadmap and Action Plan (PDF, 2.78MB) is establishing Queensland as a world-leader for the biofutures industry. This industry roadmap will see almost $20 million invested in Queensland’s industrial biotechnology and bioproducts sector.

The roadmap is further supported by the Queensland Industry Partnerships Program that is investing $350 million in priority industry sectors like Biofutures and its supply chains. The Program offers tailored incentives to business, industry and research institutions enabling global efforts to decarbonise and building diverse local industry capabilities.

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Biospine Researchers, Dr Claudio Pizzolato, Dr Dinesh Palipana and Professor David Lloyd, from Griffith University.

Photo credit: © Griffith University

The Queensland Government supports multidisciplinary collaboration and strong industry partnerships to accelerate the development and commercialisation of bioproducts. An example of this support is hosting of the 2023 National AusBiotech Conference in Brisbane. The conference brings together local and international leaders in the biotech community creating important networking and partnership opportunities.

The Queensland Government is tapping into international biotech products and supply chains through strategic partnerships. In 2022, Queensland and Germany signed a Joint Declaration of Intent for Cooperation in Bioeconomy (PDF, 91.3KB) . The Queensland–Germany Bioeconomy Collaborative Science Program has since been launched, offering grants of up to $250,000 to Queensland research organisations undertaking a research project in the bioeconomy sector in collaboration with a German research organisation.

Industry Investment

Queensland’s Biofutures sector is estimated to receive $20 million in direct industry investment leading to a $1.8 billion contribution to the Queensland economy by 2035. Growing global demand for bioproducts, such as biofuels, biochemicals and bioplastics, creates promising investment opportunities backed by the States favourable climate, established economy and advanced infrastructure.

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A 3D printed scaffold seeded with human mesothelial cells developed at QUT’s Centre for Biomedical Technologies.

The Queensland Government is investing $1 million to support the development of a Future Foods BioHub (PDF, 5.91MB) in Mackay for export-oriented industrial biotechnology and bioproducts. The BioHub will utilise existing agricultural strengths in the region and combine advanced manufacturing capabilities to create new food products that address the growing demand for healthy and sustainable plant-based alternatives.

The University of Queensland is leading the national Centre of Excellence in Quantum Biotechnology involving domestic and international research organisations and industry partners. The Centre will undertake revolutionary research at the interface of quantum science and biology and aims to develop the first quantum technologies to solve key challenges in biotechnology. This industry-engaged ecosystem will facilitate multidisciplinary collaboration, develop future leaders, and drive innovation on a national and international scale.

Life Science Queensland is a peak industry body, attracting investment and amplifying talent.

Talent pipeline for biotechnology

Most of Queensland’s universities offer under and post graduate courses in biotechnology (for example: Queensland University of Technology, Griffith University, and The University of Queensland). Several universities host major research institutes and specialised research centres which facilitate advanced biotechnology research and development capabilities. These major hubs encourage student skill development, encourage collaboration, and support post-graduate and senior researchers.

Many universities form partnerships with industry groups, producers, manufacturers, and government agencies including the Department of State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning (PDF, 5.91MB) and the Department of Environment and Science.

From their earliest years students in Queensland engage with STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) under the strategy for STEM in Queensland state schools. Teachers can access resources via the STEM Hub and the Queensland STEM Education Network provided by Queensland universities.

High school students can be industry-ready under the Advanced Manufacturing Gateway to Industry Schools program administered by the Queensland Manufacturing Institute. The program is designed to encourage students to build sustainable STEM connections with the community, government, and the advanced manufacturing industry, including the biotechnology and bioproducts industry.

  • Find out why top researchers and industry leaders are saying Queensland is one of the best places in the world for life science research.

    Find out why top researchers and industry leaders are saying Queensland is one of the best places in the world for life science research.

  • Find out how Queensland is on the cusp of a biomedical boom.

    Find out how Queensland is on the cusp of a biomedical boom.

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