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News & Trends - MedTech & Diagnostics

Australia’s National Reconstruction Fund (NRF) sets sail

Health Industry Hub | September 20, 2023 |

The newly established $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund (NRF) has marked its inception, representing the largest investment of its kind in living memory. This initiative has been set in motion with the commencement of legislation this week, culminating in the inaugural meeting of its independent Board on Monday, held in Sydney. This watershed moment comes on the heels of the passage of the National Reconstruction Fund Corporation Bill 2023 through Parliament in March, followed by receiving Royal Assent in April.

The NRF’s Board comprises a cadre of experts whose specialised knowledge spans the fund’s seven pivotal investment domains: Renewables and low emissions technologies; Medical science; Transport; Value-added contributions in agriculture, forestry, and fisheries sectors; Value-added contributions in resources; Defence capability; and Enabling capabilities.

In a strategic move to bolster the Australian manufacturing sector, particularly catering to SMEs, founders and family-owned enterprises facing challenges scaling their operations, the NRF funding adopts a business model conventionally employed by governments. This model strategically leverages private capital to facilitate the development of costly infrastructure, reminiscent of highways or airports. Treasurer Jim Chalmers holds this approach in high regard, emphasising that the NRF financing is geared towards leveraging commercial capital rather than grants or subsidised loans.

Notably, Martijn Wilder AM, a veteran leader in sustainable finance and climate change policy with over two decades of experience, has been named the Chair of the independent NRF Board. The Board further comprises Ahmed Fahour AO, Dr Katharine Giles, The Hon Kelly O’Dwyer, Daniel Petre AO, Kathryn Presser AM, Karen Smith-Pomeroy, Daniel Walton, and Dr Katharine Giles who serves as the current CEO and Managing Director of OncoRes Medical, a growing medical device development and manufacturing entity based in Western Australia.

Industry and Science Minister Ed Husic participated as a guest during the first NRF Board meeting. “Our government is ambitious for the NRF Board to deliver great things for Australian industry and manufacturing. Each of the eight independent Board members brings the skills needed to strengthen Australian manufacturing and our industrial capabilities. The government has brought together a strong mix of skills and experiences from all parts of the nation to help ensure the NRF delivers for Australians,” he said.

Echoing this sentiment, Finance Minister Senator Katy Gallagher emphasised the significance of these appointments in executing the Future Made in Australia agenda. “The appointed Board members are envisaged to play a pivotal role in steering the nation towards diversification and transformation of the Australian economy,” she commented.

NRF Chair Martijn Wilder said, “I’m honoured to be asked to chair the NRF Board and begin the critical work of rebuilding our industrial capabilities and driving innovation. This is an experienced and capable Board with the range of experience necessary to manage risk and drive decision making across the fund’s priority areas.”

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