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Life sciences could be a jewel in the NZ economy

January 12, 2023

The New Zealand life sciences summit in Wellington in March will help break a glass ceiling for the biotech industry, BiotechNZ executive director Dr Zahra Champion says.

The summit will look at the challenges and opportunities New Zealand and the world is facing from climate emissions, gene editing, scaling New Zealand tech for the world, venture capital funding trends, talent attraction and Aotearoa’s competitive advantages.

The conference, run by BioTechNZ and NZTech, will unite Aotearoa’s life sciences and biotech communities across all sectors including agriculture, environment, industrial as well as human and animal health, Dr Champion says.

“Globally, life science is big news. Dr Ayesha Verrall, minister for research, science and innovation and associate minister of health will be opening the event.           

Companies are seeking to create sustainable products and biotech is the solution with one of New Zealand companies Lanzatech chief scientific officer Dr Sean Simpson a key speakers. He is talking about transforming waste carbon into materials such as fuels, fabrics, packaging, and other products that people use in their daily lives,

The Wellington event on March 22 and 23 will be looking at research and innovation trends, funding and investment, gene editing and its place in New Zealand and a dissection of the life sciences industry.”

Other speakers include Professor Dame Juliet Gerrard, the prime minister’s chief science advisor, kaitohutohu mātanga pūtaiao matua ki te pirimia.

She has supported the science and science advisor community to provide advice to the PM, ministers, and the public on a wide range of topics.

Her office has released three major reports, rethinking plastics in Aotearoa, the future of commercial fishing in New Zealand, and kotahitanga – uniting Aotearoa against infectious disease and antimicrobial resistance.

Dr Champion says leading New Zealand companies, which  are using biotech research to help developments in medicine, new plant cultivars, alternative proteins, and sustainable practices, will be among those attending the summit.

They include Auckland’s Aroa Biosurgery, biotech company which is turning tripe from sheep stomachs to create high-tech soft tissue healing products,  unlocking regenerative healing for everyone, she says.

“Other Kiwi firms taking part are Agrisea which is working collaboratively with Scion, combining indigenous knowledge and biotech, to develop novel seaweed hydrogels to create a high-value and sustainable seaweed industry in Aotearoa.

“We can rebuild our economy following covid with more funding into life sciences and biotech.

“New technologies such as cell and gene therapy, gene editing and synthetic biology for medical, animal health, sustainable food production are helping to reduce Aotearoa’s carbon foot print. They are the foundations for life sciences and biotech to be a jewel in the New Zealand economy.”

For further information contact Dr Zahra Champion on 021 899 732 or NZTech’s media specialist, Make Lemonade editor-in-chief Kip Brook on 0275 030188

BioTechNZ Our aim is to raise awareness and increase the understanding to enable our nation to embrace the best opportunities biotech offers to us daily, helping us live better, healthier and more productive lives.