New Zealand has one of the fastest growing biotechnology industries in the world. What does this mean for our economy, employment, and research?

The biotech boom

Biotechnology is booming in New Zealand. Funding for biotechnology research and development increased by 20% between 2004 and 2005. In total, NZ$640 million was invested in biotechnology research in 2005.

Biotech affects our economy

See the other videos in the series, which look at how biotechnology has the potential to create better healthcare, improved foods, better and safer agriculture and cleaner industrial processing.

Research and development in the area of biotechnology has increased employment opportunities and the number of new companies being formed in New Zealand, enabling more efficient and competitive industries. Many would argue that it has also improved our quality of life. In financial terms, biotechnology earns New Zealand $300–400 million each year.

Who’s doing biotech in New Zealand?

In 2005, there were 126 organisations involved in biotechnology research in New Zealand. These organisations include universities, Crown Research Institutes (CRIs), Centres of Research Excellence (CoREs) and privately owned companies. These privately owned companies are one of the fastest growing sectors in biotechnology, with the number almost doubling between 2004 and 2006.

Biotech companies that listed on the New Zealand stock exchange in 2005 were estimated to be worth about NZ$2.1 billion – New Zealand biotechnology is big business!

New biotechnology companies are sometimes spin-outs, which arise from research being carried out by universities, CRIs or other companies. Spin-out companies tend to focus on a new idea or commercialise intellectual property (IP). Examples of spin-out companies are:

  • Biopolymer Network – a spin-out from Canesis, Crop & Food Research and Scion
  • Zygem – a spin-out from the University of Auckland and the University of Waikato
  • Keratec – a spin-out from Canesis.

Find out more about research and development in New Zealand.

What are New Zealand’s biotechnology strengths?

More than 2,200 people work in biotechnology in New Zealand. They specialise in four main research areas:

  • Agricultural biotechnology (35%)
  • Medical devices and diagnostics (28%)
  • Human health applications (23%)
  • Industrial applications (14%)

Who uses New Zealand’s biotechnology?

New Zealand exports its biotechnology to over 60 countries. The income from these exports was NZ$142 million in 2005. 

    Published 16 November 2007