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Mario Pennisi, Chief Executive Officer at Life Sciences Queensland

Issue13_April 2017

Life Sciences Queensland Limited (LSQ) is an Australian industry-led organization working to assist the growth of individual firms and organizations and to enhance Queensland’s national and international reputation as a center of commercial and research excellence in life sciences. Please explain LSQ’s strategies, mission, and activities to our readers.

Life Sciences Queensland Limited (LSQ) is an active Australian industry group that was established to assist those entities that use R&D across the life sciences as part of their business endeavours. Specifically, we are most interested in the outcomes of the R&D. It seems that this interest is now best described as the role of life sciences innovation in economic development.

Mario Pennisi having a conversation with one of the speakers

Like other peak industry groups, we exist to assist and promote the interests of our members. We do so by identifying and interacting with key international counterparts so that our members and the stakeholders of our counterparts (from across the globe) have opportunity to meet and to explore opportunities to get to know each other – and when the circumstances are appropriate – to work together.

Our engagement strategy is across a few areas. Once we have identified various stakeholders, we create fora (physical and virtual) to enable them to interact. We work to deliver to them contacts, services and initiatives that they would not do by themselves (because they haven’t recognised the need, or they don’t have the resources to do it).

Through our constant market outreach activities, we try to identify and/or create opportunities that our members might be able to seize. Where possible and of interest to our members, we arrange and facilitate a co-ordinated approach to business meetings – especially in relation to trade missions (inbound or outbound).

Our high level of activity and interaction positions us well to play a leading role in influencing public policy – and our bipartisan approach generally serves the broadest interests of all our stakeholders.

We see that LSQ provides diverse products and services to its members. Can you explain what benefits members would receive from working with LSQ?

LSQ has a dedicated team of professionals who are focused on assisting and representing members to gain opportunities and to leverage the network of capabilities – both from within the membership – and also throughout our international alliances. This assists all stakeholders - and serves to strengthen the alliances that have been established.

In many cases, our members may not be in a position by themselves to seek out the broad range of stakeholders that LSQ has managed to identify and engage.

\Also as a highly visible and active advocate for the role of life sciences innovation and the role it plays in economic development, LSQ is a highly regarded and effective voice for industry – representing industry’s needs and aspirations to our elected officials - at all levels of government and in a bipartisan manner.

LSQ is a key channel for building and maintaining a globally competitive sector in Australia. As an entrepreneur, what would you say are the top three priority assets or skill sets needed for to be successful in the global life sciences industry?

When creating anything, you need to have a clear vision of what you are trying to achieve. You need to recognize what skills you have (either personally or across the stakeholder group) and you must then identify those individuals (or other stakeholder groups) who can complement and help grow your capabilities. This is key because collaboration is essential to establishing and growing any enterprise.

You need to be bold – ask the “what if” questions and be prepared to back yourself (and your partners) to be able to achieve your goals and ambitions.

It is important to learn the lessons from others who have been successful (and even from those who may not have enjoyed success) and use these experiences to inform what you should do.

Above all – get started! Don’t wait until it is “perfect” before you start – otherwise you will never start. Also while never loosing sight of the goal, be prepared to “flex and pivot” if that is what is needed. Lastly, never give up.

As a CEO of LSQ what do you think is the most important issue in the life sciences industry? How do you forecast global life sciences industry will be like in the next five years?

Life sciences innovation is crucial for our survival – as ultimately this is the sector that will deliver the products that will feed, fuel and heal the peoples of the world. Life sciences innovation requires relatively long time frames, can be very expensive, and involves technical risk.

All of these things mean that the life cycle from idea to delivery usually takes several years. Because it does take several years, this invariably means that it will involve a number of political cycles – therefore bipartisan support and stable policy arrangements are crucial to an efficient and effective life sciences sector.

With the recent political changes in a number of jurisdictions around the world, we are seeing that the previous bipartisan support for the knowledge based ecosystem is under extreme pressure as new political leaders try to engage with their constituents in ways that may challenge existing international relationships and global supply chains. These new interactions cause uncertainty and political instability

– in turn causing investment in life sciences to be perceived to be riskier.

WKMJ has readers from over 10 countries globally. Please share your final words or thoughts with our readers.

Life sciences innovation is not for the faint-hearted. You need patience and the ability to work with several (and many) stakeholders at any time – and from all over the world. You will face challenges, from technical, to regulatory, to financial – but those who prevail will bring to the world those outcomes that will feed, fuel and heal the world. The possibilities are endless, and the results priceless. Also remember, never give up! Never give up! Never give up!

Mario Pennisi

Chief Executive Officer, Life Sciences Queensland

Mario Pennisi is the inaugural CEO of Life Sciences Queensland LSQ. He has been the CEO of LSQ since its establishment in 2005, and has over 20 years’ experience in the life sciences industry. Mr. Pennisi has extensive experience in managing commercial operations in the life science industry. In the mid-1990s, in affiliation with US and German-based organisations, he established the first Queensland-based ‘central laboratory’, servicing international trials in the Asia-Pacific region. He was also a founding member of Queensland’s first contract research organisation. Mr. Pennisi has overseen LSQ’s growth to become Australia’s peak industry group for therapeutic product service providers. LSQ represents over 100 members and it maintains relationships with strategic partners across the Asia Pacific Region and in Europe and North America.

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