While biotechnology always has had close ties with academia, an initiative being taken at the University of Queensland (Brisbane, Australia) may provide a model for a direct interface between basic research and industry. The cornerstone of the initiative is an academic-style mega-department called the Institute for Molecular Bioscience that will integrate basic research resources at the university and will both partner directly with pharmaceutical companies and spin off smaller companies of its own.

"The institute is being formed by merging research centers at the University of Queensland," said Peter Andrews, director of the university's Centre for Drug Design & Development (3-D Centre). "At the end of the day it will fundamentally be a research institute. But it will be funded on what it earns as well as research grants, unlike other Australian academic departments."