NSW is committing $96 million to establish a facility to develop and manufacture the emerging medical technology of mRNA and RNA drugs used to develop vaccines like those created for COVID-19 by Pfizer and Moderna.
Premier Dominic Perrottet said the facility—at a site yet to be determined—would position the state as a world leader in biotechnology, noting it would be a game-changer in the field of medical research.
The investment in RNA and biotechnology reflects the government’s new focus on research and development and a move to attract and train the best and brightest minds in developing emerging technologies.
“The NSW government doesn’t just want to be nation-leading, but world-leading when it comes to industry, ideas and innovation,” he said on Thursday.
“If there is anything that this pandemic has taught us it is that governments need to be ahead of the curve,” he said.
The facility would be “the silver lining of the pandemic”.
The project was part of the government’s plan to create jobs and ensure NSW is set up for a prosperous future, Perrottet said.
“We are not just governing for today—we’re governing for generations to come and these investments set up our state for future success,” he said.
Construction on the facility will begin within a year and would be developed in partnership with the state’s universities, with the funding supporting the NSW RNA bioscience alliance with the aim of attracting private investment.
The facility will include labs and pre-clinical trial spaces to enable early-stage RNA-based drug development.
RNA technology was used to develop the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines which trigger an immune response that produces antibodies to attack COVID-19.
Treasurer Matt Kean said the industry had the potential to bring billions into the state, saying it was “about investing against future pandemics”.
Jobs Minister Stuart Ayres said the mRNA and RNA technologies and industry had the potential to be used in various industries.
“It’s really about making sure that we utilise science and research to allow our bodies to use their own makeup to fight off disease,” he said.
“It’s not just applicable to humans … (it) can be used across agricultural purposes.
“It has the capacity to make our hospitals more efficient, it means less time for surgery, it means new ways of fighting off diseases,” he said.
“We’ve only just scratched the surface.”