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When a bit of 'BIF' is a good thing.



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Media release issued by Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources Ian Macfarlane

18 December 2002 02/261

WHEN A BIT OF 'BIF' IS A GOOD THING

Round four of the Federal Government's $40 million Biotechnology Innovation Fund (BIF) was today declared open for applications from innovative Australian companies and individuals.

Federal Industry Minister, Ian Macfarlane, has called for applications while congratulating one of the program's latest success stories. Queensland company, ToxiTech Pty Ltd, has developed a prototype for a real-time testing kit for contaminated water and seafood.

"The diversity of research projects under this program is a real eye-opener. There's a company using protein from snake venom to stem surgical bleeding, another is developing a vaccine for the prevention of Type 1 diabetes in children and, one of my favourites, is the use of tiny DNA segments in inks and dyes to protect against counterfeiting of products," said Mr Macfarlane.

This is a highly competitive program, since May 2001 219 companies have applied for funding through three BIF funding rounds. 94 projects were selected and they've received grants totalling more than $21 million.

One of those companies was Toxitech which was awarded $165,000 for work on development of a diagnostic kit for algal toxins in seafood and drinking water. The "real-time" testing kit will help prevent illness and death among seafood eaters and water drinkers as well as reducing the risk to seafood producers, farmers and water supply authorities.

"Toxitech is another example of the outstanding work being done by Australia's young biotechnology companies and which, with the help of BIF, will meet the gap between research and commercialisation," said Mr Macfarlane.

"BIF is a key plank in the Commonwealth's National Biotechnology Strategy which has been in place for two years. A series of consultations held throughout Australia earlier this year provided some valuable feedback on the Strategy and its programs."

"We're responding to that feedback by concentrating on effective public awareness strategies, development of commercialisation and business skills, and improved coordination at all levels of government and industry," he said.

BIF application details at www.ausindustry.gov.au and close on February 12.

Media contact: Kirsty Boazman 02 62777580 or 0412171444.

CMR02-329