$1.1 billion is available from the Medical Research Future Fund for research projects that boost illness prevention and promote early intervention.
Medical Research Future Fund
The Medical Research Future Fund is providing grants of financial assistance to support health and medical research and innovation, with the objective of improving the health and wellbeing of Australians.
As part of the 2014-15 Budget, the Australian Government announced the establishment of the $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) to provide a sustainable source of funding for vital medical research over the medium to longer term. Through the MRFF, the Government will deliver a major additional injection of funds into the health and medical research sector.
The MRFF offers the opportunity to strategically fund research and address national priorities in a cohesive and coordinated way. It complements existing medical research and innovation funding to improve health outcomes by distributing new funding in more diverse ways to support stronger partnerships between researchers, healthcare professionals, governments and the community. MRFF funding will complement the work of the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Commonwealth Science Council and the Australian Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda, including the Biomedical Translation Fund.
The MRFF is managed by the Future Fund Board of Guardians. The Treasurer and Minister for Finance set the investment mandate for the MRFF that provides broad direction to the Future Fund Board of Guardians in relation to its investment strategy. Net earnings on MRFF capital for a given financial year will be available for drawdown the following financial year, with the capital of the MRFF preserved in perpetuity.
Strategy and Priorities
As required by the Medical Research Future Fund Act 2015, the Australian Medical Research Advisory Board developed the inaugural Australian Medical Research and Innovation Strategy 2016-2021 and the accompanying Australian Medical Research and Innovation Priorities 2016-2018. These documents were registered with the Federal Register of Legislative Instruments on 9 November 2016 and announced by the Government on the same day.
The Strategy and Priorities have been considered by Government in deciding the first disbursements from the MRFF.
Contributions to the MRFF endowment have been sourced from savings within the Health portfolio that will accumulate until the capital target of $20 billion is reached. Disbursements over the first five years of the MRFF are projected to be $1.4 billion, and when the fund matures it is anticipated that annual disbursements of up to $1 billion per annum.
The first disbursements from the MRFF focus on translating research into real health benefits, breakthrough investments in new technologies and health challenges, and enhancing Australia’s reputation for research excellence and leadership.
From 2016-17, the first disbursements from the Medical Research Future Fund will inject over $65 million into a range of programs that cut across the research pipeline – fuelling new discoveries and the translation and commercialisation of great Australian ideas.
Update – 16 November 2017
The Turnbull Government is today announcing an additional $70 million for Australian health and medical researchers to help boost their research capability and to find innovative, practical solutions for better health care.
This investment is being made over the next five years from 2017-18 through the Turnbull Government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) Next Generation Clinical Researchers program.
This program will boost the talent and capacity of Australia’s health and medical research workforce by increasing the scale of existing fellowship schemes offered by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).
Building researcher capacity is vital to Australia’s continued success as a global health and medical research leader and innovator.
Fellowships encourage leading researchers in the early to middle stages of their careers to remain in the competitive research arena. It’s about supporting the next generation of Australia’s researchers.
Expansion of fellowship schemes was recommended by the independent Australian Medical Research Advisory Board, which advises the Government on the best use of MRFF funds.
The Next Generation Clinical Researcher program increases the funds available to researchers through three NHMRC fellowships schemes.
The program received $8 million from the first tranche of MRFF disbursements. The first group of MRFF fellowships were announced by the Prime Minister and myself in October.
Today, we are also announcing the allocation of $1.79 million to the next group of MRFF fellowships.
Ten MRFF Translating Research into Practice (TRIP) Fellows will use the funds to work on a broad range of health issues, from suicide prevention to chronic kidney disease and to translate theory and laboratory work into improved health care practice and outcomes for patients.
In addition, the successful applicants for the 12 TRIP fellowships funded by the NHMRC are also being announced today. These fellowships are worth a total of $2.15 million.
These TRIP fellowships will increase the number of opportunities for Australia’s talented researchers to continue their important work.
The announcement today of a further $70 million for fellowships into the future will ensure Australia has the research capacity to maintain its global research powerhouse status.
Translation of research into clinical practice is crucial to improve the health outcomes of all Australians and the operation of our health system.
This reinforces the Turnbull Government’s unprecedented commitment to health and medical research.
Update – 26 May 2017
The Turnbull Government will invest $5.9 million from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) to help tackle the threat of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses or parasites becoming resistant to standard medical treatments.
Resistance results in standard medical treatments such as antibiotics, antivirals or anti-malarials becoming ineffective, allowing infections to persist and possibly spread.
Infections are becoming increasingly difficult to treat, leaving health care professionals with limited – or in some instances zero – treatment options.
Australia has one of the highest rates of antibiotic use in the world and rates of resistance to some common antibiotics are increasing globally.
Commercial returns on the discovery and development of new antibiotics is relatively low, so it is an area of research that doesn’t attract sufficient private sector investment.
That’s why the Turnbull Government is stepping in to invest in this important area of medical research.
The research will be consistent with the achievement of the objectives of the National Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy 2015-2019, which was developed by the Australian Government in partnership with states and territories, academics, research organisations and industry, and will include a focus on:
- knowledge gaps in relation to the development and spread of resistance; and
- the development of new products, including diagnostic technologies and therapies, policies and approaches to prevent, detect and respond to resistance.
The Coalition’s $20 billion MRFF provides a long-term sustainable source of funding for research that aims to improve health outcomes, quality of life and health system sustainability.
This investment in critical antimicrobial resistance research is part of the $65.9 million in MRFF disbursements announced in the Budget.
The Turnbull Government is committed to supporting Australia’s talented researchers to find solutions to challenges that make a difference to patients’ lives.