8101.0 - Innovation and Technology Update (Newsletter), Dec 2004  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 23/12/2004   
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4.1 Introduction

There is recognition worldwide that biotechnology offers opportunities for delivering economic and social benefits to citizens of both developed and developing countries. However, there is currently little statistical information available to monitor the diffusion of biotechnology and to assist with policy choices.

4.2 Developments

The ABS participated in an OECD working group with the aim of developing a set of internationally comparable biotechnology statistical indicators. This work formed the basis for the development of strategies for the collection of Australian biotechnology statistics. Papers were prepared specifying user requirements, international experiences and outlining various strategies, including the collection of additional data in the existing R&D surveys and the conduct of a new biotechnology survey.

As an initial step to providing statistical information about biotechnology the ABS is measuring biotechnology R&D activity in the business sector. The one-off collection of data will be undertaken by the inclusion of additional questions in the 2003-04 Survey of Research and Experimental Development, Businesses. Biotechnology has been defined in accordance with the OECD definition and comments received when testing this definition and consulting with users. The questions cover both biotechnology R&D performed by the company (split between on own behalf and for others) and payments to others to undertake biotechnology R&D. The questions also ask about the type of organisations paid to undertake biotechnology R&D and reasons for outsourcing the R&D, the objectives/uses of the biotechnology R&D and barriers to biotechnology research and commercialisation.

The results will be included in the publication Research and Experimental Development, Businesses, Australia 2003-04 (cat. no. 8104.0) which is scheduled for release in September 2005.