World-leading South Australian science businesses are being forced out of the state government’s purpose-built bio incubator precinct at Thebarton to make way for the North-South Corridor project.
The $12m bioscience incubator was opened by former Labor Premier Mike Rann in 2008 to accelerate the commercialisation of South Australian research and development, but it will now be “repurposed” – although few details have been released.
Innovation and Science Minister Susan Close confirmed to InDaily that tenants, including world-leading health and science startups, must leave the Thebarton site as the Department of Infrastructure and Transport (DIT) will take control of its buildings with labs and offices, and surrounding land. The precinct is in an area bounded by West Thebarton Rd off South Rd, and the River Torrens.
The Malinauskas Government is this week expected to announce the design of the North-South Corridor’s Darlington to Torrens stage, taking in areas including Thebarton, Torrensville and Hindmarsh at the northern end.
Close said that in 2021, the Marshall Government approved having the incubator building and associated land transferred to control of the Infrastructure and Transport department and minister.
“It is expected that the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport will assume responsibility for the site via arrangements with the Department for Industry, Innovation and Science in the first half of 2023, to secure use of the site in connection with the North-South Corridor Torrens to Darlington Project,” Close said.
“Existing leases with the tenants have no renewal option beyond June 2023.
“The incubator tenants have grown from start-ups to established biotechnology companies, and as such no longer align with the building’s purpose.
“This project will have impacts on the local community infrastructure; as such DIT seeks to repurpose the incubator facility to mitigate these impacts. The details of this repurposing are yet to be released.”
One firm based at the hub is Avance Clinical, a company specialising in delivering clinical drug development trials in Australia, New Zealand and North America for international biotechs.
Its Australia and New Zealand teams have grown to service biotech clients in their early phases of drug development and, in collaboration with its US operations, help with later phase Clinical Research Organisation services.
World-leading microbiome medical company BiomeBank, an original bioscience hub tenant, is also having to move out of the specially designed building and find a new home.
The innovative Adelaide firm’s ground-breaking research using faecal implants to tackle bowel health problems recently won the world’s first regulatory approval for a microbiome-based therapy using donors.
Another South Australian firm forced to move is Ziltek, whose technology and hand-held device developed to analyse soil for remediation is being used around the world.
The company has international distributors and agents after originally developing the RemScan device with an app to measure Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons in soil.
It has since constantly developed new applications for the device to be used in agriculture, to analyse potentially hazardous sites and as a tool for STEM education, with an app used by an oil company to remediate a coastal wilderness area in Victoria.
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Close said the state government was working with biohub tenants to support them moving to new premises.
“Furthermore, extensions for limited periods of time are being considered where impacts to businesses continuity for a tenant are significant,” she said.
InDaily has sought comment from biohub tenants.
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