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Government ignores COVID lessons: Future Made in Australia fund neglects medical products

Health Industry Hub | May 16, 2024 |

The $22.7 billion Future Made in Australia investment from the Federal Budget must do more to fully harness the potential of bringing the nation’s health innovations to the world.

Constituting 28% of Australian R&D investment, health and medical research present a largely untapped opportunity for both health and economic advancement. The government’s Federal Budget pledge to evaluate Australia’s R&D framework must prioritise the pivotal role of health and medical research.

Nadia Levin, CEO of Research Australia, underscored the necessity for further action, saying “While the Medical Science Co-investment Plan is a good start, there’s certainly more that must be done to realise the full potential of Australian health and medical research.

“A Future Made in Australia must consider the future health of our nation and our growing health innovation sector. As is stands there is nothing in the Future Made In Australia Innovation Fund for medical products, despite the lessons of COVID about the importance of manufacturing sovereignty.”

Martin Bowles AO PSM, Chair of Research Australia, affirmed the organisation’s commitment to collaborating with the government to unlock the full potential of the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF). He acknowledged the welcome allocation of $650 million annually to the MRFF but emphasised the opportunity for an additional $323 million investment in transformative Australian medical research, given the available resources.

Although the Board overseeing the Future Fund earmarked $973 million for grants in 2024-25, the allocated disbursement falls short at $650 million, highlighting the imperative to expedite progress toward the MRFF’s intended annual allocation of $1 billion for medical research investment.

Bowles remarked, “Medical research is the path to a healthy Australian population and a healthy Australian economy. When first announced, the goal of the Fund was to make $1 billion available every year for investment into cutting-edge Australian medical research, innovations and economic growth.

“The Federal Government can help make that goal a reality, with $973 million available for grants in the upcoming financial year. We have abundant capacity in the sector to immediately use the additional $323 million in funding, with worthy Australian projects just waiting to be advanced by skilled researchers.”

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