NSW is set to lead Australia with a first-of-its-kind pilot facility to develop mRNA and RNA drugs and vaccines to combat disease and save lives.
The $96 million facility, 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.
Premier Dominic Perrottet said the State Government’s funding for the facility, aims to attract commercial investment in mRNA and RNA production here in Australia.
“We are the first state in Australia to deliver a pilot manufacturing facility to spearhead the establishment of a local RNA industry,” Mr Perrottet said.
“The COVID pandemic has demonstrated to the world that it is critically important that we have the capability to develop vaccines quickly and for our country to have sovereign capability.
“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.”
“There is no better state than NSW to grow Australia’s emerging RNA industry into a global player.”
Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney and Minister for Trade and Industry Stuart Ayres said the facility will bridge the gap between NSW’s world-class RNA research and a viable commercial RNA industry.
“Our RNA research strengths are unparalleled – we have the research talent, a thriving innovation ecosystem and we as a government are ready to take research translation and commercialisation to the next level,” Mr Ayres said.
“There is also the potential for this facility to be scaled up to significantly increase our sovereign capacity in vaccine production, strengthening the state’s resilience against future pandemics.
“Our world-leading research talent and expertise in RNA R&D will also attract international investment in NSW R&D, bringing companies from all over the world to use our pilot facility.”
Treasurer Matt Kean said the facility was an investment in NSW’s position as a global force in medical research and therapeutics.
“NSW’s medical technology sector contributes $2 billion to the state’s economy,” Mr Kean said.
“Supporting the development of high-growth emerging industries such as RNA therapeutics allows us 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.”
Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier, Gabrielle Upton, said the NSW Government’s Accelerating R&D in NSW Action Plan will lead future industries and jobs by building strong partnerships between our universities & industry.
“The NSW Government has already announced the formation of the NSW RNA Bioscience Alliance which brings together the best and brightest at our leading universities and research institutes to advance RNA research, development and manufacturing,” Ms Upton said.
“This is a significant milestone in the creation of the RNA ecosystem and future R&D commercialisation, with our academics playing a major role in driving developments here in NSW for decades to come.”
Convener of the NSW Vice-Chancellors’ Committee Professor Barney Glover AO congratulated the NSW Government on the significant investment.
“The investment in the pilot facility is a significant signal that the NSW Government is considering deeper investment in R&D capabilities that will in turn empower the pilot facility to become more commercially viable and attractive to industry investment. Together, we are creating a strong, research-focused RNA ecosystem and research workforce for NSW,” Professor Glover said.
“Universities look forward to working closely with government and industry, to utilise and translate our collective research strengths to achieve real impact for the communities we serve.”
The pilot facility will commence subject to the approval of a final business case.
Leader of the NSW Bioscience Alliance, UNSW Sydney Professor Pall Thordarson said vaccines are only the tip of the iceberg in the range of RNA therapeutics that are revolutionising medicine.
“A manufacturing capability would position Australia as a leader in the development of novel RNA technologies and the NSW universities are proud to collaborate with NSW Government and industry partners to drive the development of the RNA ecosystem in NSW,” Professor Thordarson said.