I am no longer working in research – 10 years after completing my PhD. I found upon my graduation a lack of stable, sufficiently remunerated opportunities in biotech research. Being a proud and patriotic Kiwi, I did not want to take myself off overseas. Most research occurs in the public sector, funded by short-term grants. Private funding is very hard to come by; part of the reason that few biotech start-ups actually start up here. Biotech is an expensive business.
We still have an economy built on agriculture and tourism – and property. Mum and Dad investors lean toward the solidity of bricks and mortar instead of other investment vehicles which could contribute to the creative economy. Consequently, the NZ share market is not a viable channel for biotech companies to raise capital. To grow they must list on overseas share markets or look to international venture capital firms.
Lissa Gilliver featured in the first issue of Idealog (Jan/Feb 2006). As an AUT PhD student, she developed technology used in the world’s first kit to test donors and patients’ blood before transfusion. She then worked for Kode Biotech (coincidentally winner of the Supreme NZ Innovator award, covered here). She is now with Janssen, part of Johnson & Johnson.
*Dodgy counting alert: Initially, we actually we asked 11 people, because we were worried not everyone would want to contribute. But everyone did. But “11 after 10” didn’t sound right. And then we liked those 11 answers so much, we kept asking people. Stay tuned for more over the summer months.