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slt-----prognosis positive for biotechs

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    The Weekend Australian
    Prognosis positive for biotechs
    By Michael Bachelard


    Australia's healthy pharmaceutical research scene is punching above its weight, Michael Bachelard reports

    WITH a puny market capitalisation of $4.5 million, Select Vaccines hardly roared on to the radar screens of the stock market's big players when it floated this week.
    But it was highly significant in other ways. It was the first biotechnology company floated on the Australian Stock Exchange for almost 18 months. And while the first day's trading was not a patch on the bubble-era exuberance, the shares did jump 100 per cent on day, from 20c to 40c.
    By design or happy coincidence, the Select Vaccines float hit the market amid a new buzz that surrounds the global biotech sector.

    Peter Marks, executive director of Peregrine Corporate Ltd, has been responsible for the listing of four small biotechs in recent times, including this week's Select Vaccines IPO.
    Each aims to develop intellectual property to the extent that it is attractive to an overseas investor.
    ``In Australia it's not about spending 10 years and $500 million creating a huge company. It's about value adding, creating milestones, having technology that makes you capable of doing a deal with overseas partners who have the financing capability to do phase three trials, and the distribution and marketing ability to sell the product.''
    Intersuisse's Buckley has a third model: that overseas companies might simply buy Australian biotechs.
    He says he will announce a deal next week that involves a company from the UK, where the predators have cash but no strong pipeline of projects.
    Whichever way it happens, he says the local industry is ripe for change for one simple reason: ``Very few Australian companies could take projects through phase three trials.''
    And without them, the best science in the world will never make a cent.
 
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