Biotechnologies harness cellular and biomolecular processes to improve our health, wellbeing, economy and environment. This field includes synthetic biology, which constructs or redesigns biological components and systems to have useful new abilities by editing their DNA.
This page belongs to: List of Critical Technologies in the National Interest
- Synthetic biology, including biological manufacturing
- Neural engineering and brain–computer interfaces
- Genome and genetic sequencing and analysis
- Vaccines and medical countermeasures
- Novel medicines, including nuclear, antiviral and antibiotic
These technologies can be used for:
- improving how we prepare for and respond to pandemics
- advanced diagnostic and therapeutic targeting
- engineering cells and enzymes that clean up environmental pollutants and recycle plastics
- engineering microorganisms to recover metals from ores and waste materials
- better disease treatments
- sustainable agriculture
- food and animal tracing
- preventing plant and livestock disease.
Global research trends
Research into biotechnologies has been growing steadily over the past 10 years, with over 180,000 research publications published around the world in 2021.
Global research rankings
The United States and China do the most biotechnology research.
The graph below shows the number of biotechnology publications each jurisdiction published between 2018 and 2022. It also shows what proportion of each jurisdiction’s publications were ranked in the top 10% of publications worldwide. This is based on how often the jurisdiction’s publications on core biotechnology research subjects were cited.
Patent filings are a way to measure how innovation is being commercialised. Patent data can also be used to identify potential collaborators and export markets.
The graphs below show numbers of patent families filed. A patent family is a set of patents filed in different jurisdictions for the same invention.
The Australian industry
Australia has an excellent reputation for biotechnology research and clinical trials, particularly in stem cell research. We also have world-class healthcare infrastructure and a well-established medical device industry.
Our synthetic biology sector is growing fast, and our business environment attracts international partnerships.
Australia’s reputation and facilities have made it a leading location for biotechnology companies in the Asia-Pacific region.
The jurisdictions we collaborate with most on biotechnologies research are the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Germany and Canada.
The Australian Government will support Australian industry to help develop international standards for biotechnologies.
To remain a leader in biotechnologies, Australia needs to build strong international partnerships and trade relationships.
This will ensure we can keep developing biotechnologies to:
- solve environmental and agricultural challenges
- improve manufacturing efficiency
- protect Australians from disease and bioterrorism
- improve our quality of life.
Australia’s thriving biotechnologies industry has more than 1400 companies. About 200 of them are listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, with a combined value of more than $242 billion in 2023.
Synthetic biology could become a $697 billion global industry by 2040. These technologies have the potential to transform industrial, health and environmental sectors and contribute to a more sustainable economy.
Australia’s synthetic biology industry could generate $27 billion in revenue and 44,000 jobs by 2040. This includes servicing the growing Asia-Pacific market for synthetic biology products, which is expected to be worth $3.1 billion by 2024.
Publication and citation data on this page was collected from Clarivate’s Web of Science and InCites. Data analysis was performed by CSIRO.
Patent data collection and analysis was performed by IP Australia using data from the European Patent Office’s PATSTAT 2022 autumn edition.