A NEW $2 billion investment is heading in the direction of supercomputing facilities, microscopy and imaging capabilities, complex biology – including next generation sequencing – and support for clinical trials infrastructure.
Those are the leverage points for major new investment by the Federal Government in Australia’s medical research sector, continuing along the road to a goal of $20 billion in total funding for the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) by 2020-21.
The Federal Government’s latest $2 billion Research Infrastructure Investment Plan gives the sector a welcome long-term – about 10 years – commitment to seeing Australian researchers have the tools they need to make new discoveries in medical research.
According to Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes (AAMRI) president Tony Cunningham, the funding will give the sector confidence to make co-investments. It will also give researchers the confidence to undertake long-term projects that will deliver health and economic benefits to the nation.
“The Investment Plan recognises an important fact – that we can only do world class research when we have access to world class research infrastructure,” Professor Cunningham said.
Prof. Cunningham applauded the government’s commitment of nearly $2 billion of funding announced in the Federal Budget for this Plan.
“This investment will make Australia a more attractive research destination, providing new opportunities for our best and brightest to stay here in Australia for their research career, and allow us to attract the very best global talent,” he said.
He said AAMRI was particularly pleased to see the new investment in medical research infrastructure.
“Our world-class research sector supports in excess of 150,000 jobs, and to keep supporting these jobs we need to keep supporting the infrastructure that underpins them,” Prof. Cunningham said.
He said the investment would help find ways to speed up identification of diseases such as cancer, develop new medical devices to deliver needle free vaccines and help develop new medical treatments to reduce future medical costs.
AAMRI, the peak body representing 49 medical research institutes across Australia, encompassing 15,000 staff and students, acknowledged that the Investment Plan provided a strategic, whole-of-government view to investing in Australia’s national research infrastructure system.
The Plan was developed following the Federal Government’s detailed consideration of the 2016 Roadmap, including nearly 500 written submissions and consultations with over 580 stakeholders.
The Medical Research Future Fund is regarded as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to significantly reshape the landscape of Australian medical research and innovation.
According to the AAMRI, Australia has world leading health and medical research and a world-class health system, but too often they operate in isolation from each other rather than as one system with the aim of a healthier community.
The MRFF was set up to provide the opportunity to bridge the gap between the two, seeing Australian medical research and innovation in partnership with health practitioners.
Established by legislation in August 2015, the MRFF operates as an investment fund. With an account balance of around $7 billion and further capital injections to be made by the Australian Government over the next few years, the MRFF is scheduled to reach its target of $20 billion in 2020-21.
The MRFF’s capital is invested and the earnings are available to fund health and medical research and innovation.