Best Practice for Biotech Boards

Best practice for biotech boards

An important component of a thriving life science industry is the quality of company governance, which in turn will support the broader industry.

AusBiotech has produced two resources to support biotechnology boards: The Code of Best Practice for Reporting Life Sciences Companies (the Code) and the Guide for Life Science Company Directors (the Guide).

AusBiotech in collaboration with the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) released a revised Code of Best Practice for Reporting by Life Science Companies (Ed 2) and with the Australian Institute of Company Directors the Guide for Life Science Company Directors (Ed 1). 

The Code and Guide are available in pdf, hard copy or an e-magazine version by contacting  

AusBiotech developed these resources with the support of the Victorian Government and in collaboration with industry and governance experts.

As an extension of its work to strengthen biotechnology boards and assist directors, AusBiotech has made available a report Corporate Governance in the ASX-listed Life Sciences Sector, which was undertaken by Bronwyn Le Grice and launched at AusBiotech 2015.

Read more about these resources below. 

Code to benefit ASX-listed life science companies

The Code was developed to benefit all life science company directors and assist them to deal with the balance between confidentiality and continuous disclosure to investors. It supports high standards of communication and market disclosure to promote investor confidence. 

The Code aims to support the directors and management of Australian ASX-listed life science companies to adopt international best practice in reporting events to investors. It also seeks to provide investors with a level of confidence through providing guidance on disclosure and appropriate reporting, as well as educational support regarding clinical trials and other matters.

The Code was first launched in 2006, and this revised version (Ed 2) produced in 2013. It involved a Reference Group of industry experts to ensure updates reflected current practice. A broad consultation process was also undertaken with investors and CEOs. The updated Code is dedicated to the memory of Dr Mike Hirshorn, a significant leader in the Australian biotechnology industry, who tirelessly led the development of Edition 1. 

An online endorsement ‘button’ for use on your company website is available free-of-charge. This graphic indicates to investors that your company’s practices are robust and meet disclosure requirements in accordance with the Code, thus giving the investor assurance in your life science business.


For further information about the Code or the endorsement ‘button’ contact AusBiotech.


Guide to improve the performance of boards leading life science companies

The Guide is a companion document to the Code and aims to support and enhance the performance of boards of directors leading public and private life science companies. 

The Guide was developed with the support of the Victorian Government, guided by and Advisory Group of industry experts and launched in October 2013. It is endorsed by the Australian Institute of Company Directors. 

Innovative, technology-focussed companies in the life science industry have different pressures, such as unique regulatory requirements and a different business cycle than many other industries. Directors of such companies therefore require additional, specialised knowledge that is not generally learned from available corporate governance materials or taught in mainstream governance courses.

This Guide outlines for less experienced directors or those new to life sciences issues typical to life science companies that are generally not typical in other industry sectors. 

For further information about the Guide contact AusBiotech.


Report assesses corporate governance in ASX-listed life sciences sector

Corporate Governance in the ASX-listed Life Sciences Sector is a report by Bronwyn Le Grice that adds to the board support materials. Ms Le Grice examined the ASX-listed life sciences sector and asked questions regarding adherence to governance principles and prepared the Report on governance, diversity and shareholder influence.

The quantitative analysis on how the sector performs against the ASX Principles and Recommendations, made an assessment of the FY2013 Corporate Governance Statements of 89 ASX-listed life science and healthcare companies was undertaken, ranging from the very smallest (market cap ~$1m) to the very biggest (market cap $30b).

"The overall picture is one of an emerging growth industry that would benefit from focusing on demonstrating excellent governance standards to investors, alongside the excellence in technology development and commercialisation already in place, if it is to succeed in becoming a significant market sector," said Ms Le Grice.

The full report can be found here.