The Australian biotechnology sector includes many research-intensive small to medium enterprises, as well as spin-outs from universities, other publicly funded research institutes and not-for-profit research organisations. While most Australian biotech companies fall within the biomedical sphere of human therapeutics and diagnostics, the sector also has strong capabilities in agriculture, the environment and industrial processing.

The biotechnology industry intersects strongly with the pharmaceuticals and medical technologies industries and estimates of the size of the sector vary depending on the classifications used. The department estimates that there are in the order of 480 biotechnology active companies across major application areas (agricultural, environmental, industrial and medical), not including medical device companies. Industry sources estimate that there are over 900 biotechnology companies, with around 400 therapeutics and diagnostics and 500 – 900 medical technology companies.1

Companies range from start-ups to more developed companies selling products in Australia and overseas. CSL is Australia's largest biotechnology company, developing and manufacturing blood plasma products, cell culture media, vaccines and anti-venoms. CSL has contributed significantly to the overall growth of the sector.2

In 2010-11, business expenditure on biotechnology research and development was approximately $180 million, with the field of medical biotechnology accounting for approximately 74%, agricultural biotechnology 12%, environmental biotechnology 8% and industrial biotechnology 6%.3

Further information

  • Case studies - showcase applications of industrial and agricultural biotechnology
  • Directory of Australian Biotechnology - information about Australian biotechnology companies, administered by Ausbiotech


There are an estimated 100 companies currently utilising nanotechnology in Australia manufacturing a wide variety of products such as materials, coatings and agricultural supplements.

Further information

  • Case studies - telling the story of businesses which are utilising nanotechnology
  • Data and Statistics - additional data about Australia's nanotechnology capabilities 


1. Ausbiotech - Industry Overview, accessed 19 February 2013
2. Department of Industry - Biotech Biotech Business Indicators
3. ABS 8104.0 Research and Experimental Development, Business, Australia 2010-11

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