UTS and GE Healthcare: Procurement as a path to Partnership

An example of a relationship ascending new heights when UTS undertook the sole sourcing of a major procurement from GE Healthcare and cementing a Strategic Partnership set to catalyse the growth of the Australian Biotech sector.

Andrew Groth

Background and objectives of the case
UTS has had a longstanding relationship with GE healthcare as a purchaser of their scientific equipment. In 2014 a 5-year strategic partnership was executed between the organisations as a non-binding umbrella agreement covering IP, confidentiality, publicity and importantly a project establishment mechanism. In 2017 UTS committed to establish a regional first $11.5M Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) facility to support the growing and internationally competitive biopharmaceutical manufacturing industry in Australia through research, training and pilot scale manufacture. The local talent pool for trained operators and technicians is finite and the industry currently relies heavily on international recruitment. Likewise the dearth of pilot manufacturing and research facilities for GMP processes in NSW is slowing development and reducing the competitiveness of a potentially massive industry benefitting human and animal health as well as providing employment and export earnings. After examining trends in the clinical manufacturing sector and needs associated with algal bioproduct research, UTS chose to work with GE Healthcare because of its range of technologies setting industry standards in the biological manufacturing sector. As a result, UTS committed to sole source the key manufacturing train of its GMP-Lite facility of single use equipment from GE Healthcare. The traditional approach to such a procurement would be for the university to negotiate with the supplier for the highest specification equipment, longest warranty, lowest cost servicing and maintenance, and of course the lowest purchase price; and the supplier would traditionally occupy the counterpoint. However, in this instance both parties saw the major procurement as an opportunity to cement an existing strategic partnership in such a way as to become a focal point and catalyst for the growth of the Australian biotech sector with specific attention on the underdeveloped NSW quarter. This paper will present the mechanism by which this procurement was negotiated with an accompanying annexure to the Relationship Agreement that resulted in a next generation University-Industry partnership.