The head of the Kimberley Development Commission hopes the WA government’s backing of a project which plans to make artificial bones out of pearl shells could lead to other high-tech industries operating out of northern Australia.
- A biotech company is progressing plans to make synthetic bones out of pearl shells
- The Kimberley Development Commission hopes more high-tech companies will set up in the region
- Experts say encouraging more diversified industries outside of Perth is good for regional development
Biotech company Marine Biomedical is also looking at developing a bone substitute from marine resources such as synthetic nacre, commonly known as mother-of-pearl, a by-product of Broome’s pearling industry.
It is also in the early stages of developing a pearl-based toothpaste.
“While the pearl shell is usually sent overseas and sold to overseas markets for various different things such as watch faces, paints and ornaments, we see it as more important for it to remain in Australia to be converted to various different orthopedic devices.”
Mr Moase said the company had completed its prototype for manufacturing bones out of the raw material and was close to finalizing plans for its raw materials processing lab in the Kimberley.
He said a $200,000 state grant would enable the company to establish the quality control and raw materials processing laboratory to begin seeking regulatory approvals which could take several years.
Pearl bone could open door to northern Australia tech
Kimberley Development Commission CEO Chuck Berger said he hoped more companies engaged in high level research and development would follow Marine Biomedical’s lead and position their operations in the north.
“When you ask what are the natural resources of the 21st century, it’s biodiversity, natural resources, resources of a whole range of different things,” he said.
Mr Berger said the development of more high-tech projects in the Kimberley, including in the biomedical sector, would lead to more jobs and training opportunities.
“It adds to a sense of being on the leading edge of things, a sense of possibility, a sense of future for the region and of economic diversification,” he said.
“A lot of people might just think of the Kimberley as a tourist destination, or maybe cattle stations, and those are very important and will continue to be. But the real future is a more diversified economy.
“So we do want to look at the sort of niche manufacturing, digital biomedical industries and more that builds up a cluster of expertise.
University of WA political scientist Professor Shamit Saggar said he was “very sympathetic” to hopes that more high-level industries would be developed in the north.
“It makes sense in terms of regional development, and it makes sense in terms of the assets in those regions,” he said.
“You [also] need to have a proper 30-year strategy for second, third, and fourth cities in WA.
“Those two things need to be solved and addressed by government for this vision to happen.”