AAMRI eNews edition #2 2016

AAMRI eNews edition #2 2016

9th March, 2016


2nd edition 2016

In this issue

  1. AAMRI news – AAMRI in Canberra, latest submissions and more
  2. Government update – Biomedical Translational Fund briefings, NISA updates, and more
  3. NHMRC & ARC updates – NHMRC Program Grants announced, new NHMRC tropical disease research program, and more
  4. Sector news – ORCID consortium launched, ACNC is here to stay, and more
  5. Reports & resources
  6. Funding & award opportunities
  7. Events & conferences

1. AAMRI news

AAMRI update
AAMRI President Doug Hilton has been doing quite a bit of media of late, including an AusSMC online briefing on the use of primates in medical research and a one-hour ABC Radio special with Tony Delroy on the future of medical research, which also featured NHMRC CEO Anne Kelso.
AAMRI President-Elect Tony Cunningham joined Doug in Canberra on 22 February for meetings with Parliamentarians and Government agencies. A short update from Doug on those meetings, and the first meeting of the Expert Advisory Group for the NHMRC structural review is here.

Doug Feb Video






AAMRI submission to Tax Incentives for Early Stage Investors consultation
As part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA), the Federal Government will provide a non-refundable tax offset and a capital gains tax exemption for early stage investments in innovation companies, commencing 1 July 2016. AAMRI’s submission on the program outlines issues with the proposed eligibility criteria for ‘innovation companies’, including overly restrictive requirements around income, expenditure and the global applicability of a company’s innovation. We also argue that the program should not be restricted to those investors who pass a ‘sophisticated investor test’ as suggested in the consultation paper.

Joint letter to the Review of the R&D Tax Incentive
A panel chaired by Bill Ferris AC (Chair, Innovation & Science Australia), Dr Alan Finkel AO (Australian Chief Scientist) and John Fraser (Secretary of Treasury) is currently undertaking a review of the R&D Tax Incentive, with recommendations to Government expected in April 2016.
AAMRI is a co-signatory to a joint letter from the medical research and innovation sector asserting that the R&D Tax Incentive is the most significant Government program for promoting innovation in the private sector, and plays a pivotal role in motivating and attracting research, development and clinical trials to Australia. It urges that the incentive not be diminished. Other letter co-signatories include AusBiotech, Research Australia, Medicines Australia, BioMelbourne Network and BioSA.

2.  Government update 

Biomedical Translational Fund briefings
More than 450 people attended briefings on the Biomedical Translational Fund on 8 February in Melbourne and Sydney. As part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA), the Federal Government will create a $250 million fund, to be matched by an additional $250 million from private investors, so creating a $500 million capital pool available for the commercialisation of biotech and medtech projects. A summary of the briefings is available online.

NISA information sessions 
The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science is continuing to brief stakeholders about initiatives in the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA). Upcoming information sessions in Perth and Melbourne are full, but spaces are still available at the Gold Coast briefing on 21 March. A NISA briefing presentation is also available online.
To stay up to date on future information sessions and consultations, subscribe to NISA updates.

Research and Innovation Inquiry underway
Federal Parliament’s Trade and Investment Growth Committee is currently undertaking public hearings as part of its Inquiry into Australia’s Future in Research and Innovation. The committee will investigate how the research and innovation sector can better assist in overcoming Australia’s geographic, economic, and labour challenges, with a focus on commercialisation, including how technology imports and exports could be further enhanced.

Innovation and Science Committee of Cabinet meets
The inaugural meeting of the Innovation and Science Committee of Cabinet, which is responsible for implementing NISA, was held on 23 February. This is the first time a dedicated Cabinet Committee has been established by the Australian Government to oversee innovation and science, highlighting the critical importance of these issues to our economic prosperity.

Entrepreneur visa consultation
A new Entrepreneur visa will be established for entrepreneurs with innovative ideas and financial backing from a third party as part of NISA. The Government is seeking feedback on the proposed policy settings for the new Entrepreneur visa, with submissions closing on 18 March.

Australian Government looks to Shanghai for next landing pad
As part of NISA, the Australian Government is establishing five landing pads in global innovation hot spots to help Australian entrepreneurs take their ideas to market and build high-growth and high-return enterprises. The first landing pad was launched on 19 February in San Francisco, with other landing pads to be established in Tel Aviv and Shanghai. Announcements on the host cities for the final two landing pads are expected soon.

VIC: China visit to drive health and medical research exports
A nine-day visit to China, led by the Minister for Health Jill Hennessy, is expected to deliver a significant boost to Victoria’s economy through new agreements focusing on medical training, health technology and collaborative research.

WA: $8 million in grants for medical research
The Western Australia Government announced $8 million in medical research support, including $6 million from the Medical and Health Research Infrastructure Fund to help support 138 high-performing researchers, and $2 million from the Research Institute Support Program shared by six WA research institutes.


NHMRC grants and scholarships awarded
A total of 96 NHMRC grants worth $129.4 million have been announced, including Program Grants, collaborative grants with the European Union, and Postgraduate Scholarships. A full list of the grants awarded is here.

Northern Australia Tropical Disease Collaborative Research Program
The NHMRC’s new Northern Australia Tropical Disease Collaborative Research Program will support innovative teams to undertake research into the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of tropical diseases that translate research findings into outcomes for health in Australia, particularly the Northern Australia region. The program will be a geographically diverse network across multiple institutions, with a physical presence in Northern Australia expected for significant components of the research team. Minimum data must be provided in RGMS by 16 March, with full applications due by 6 April.

Upcoming NHMRC-NIHR Collaborative Grants
The NHMRC has joined with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) in the UK to co-fund Collaborative Reserach Grants as part of the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Program. The NHMRC has committed up to $3 million to support the Australian components of projects (up to five years) that address the topics of smoking cessation interventions in children of school age, or prophylactic antibiotics to prevent recurrent lower respiratory tract infections in children with neurological impairment.

Update on the new Human Research Ethics Application
The NHMRC has published a progress update on the development of the Human Research Ethics Application (HREA) to replace the National Ethics Application Form (NEAF).

ARC Linkage Projects scheme consultation
The ARC plans to implement a continuous application process for the Linkage Projects scheme from 1 July 2016. Consultation with industry and research institutions on the changes is anticipated in March.

4.  Sector news

New tax ruling to benefit philanthropists and medical research
Australian non-profit organisation, AUSiMED, will launch a new Venture Philanthropy Fund (VPF) to support globally significant medical research projects later this month. The new fund comes weeks after AUSiMED secured a new tax ruling enabling Public and Private Ancillary Funds (PAFs) to use their corpus to lend money at up to 16% interest for medical research, without risking the loss of the corpus. The unique VPF model provides a safety net to PAFs, by turning their loan into a tax-deductible donation if medical research outcomes are unsuccessful.

ORCID consortium launched in Australia
Forty of Australia’s research institutions launched an Australian consortium of the global ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID) initiative. The initiative provides researchers with a unique 12 digit identifier so that there research outputs (e.g. publications, patents) can be easily tracked. This overcomes issues caused by names shared with other researchers and misspellings or variability in the use of a researcher’s name. ORCID also allows automated linkages between a researcher’s activities and outputs from different sources, providing a consolidated record of their research activity throughout their career.

CSL hub at Melbourne University doubles jobs for research
CSL will double the number of its scientists at the University of Melbourne to create a global research hub, showing its confidence in the country’s innovation push. CSL Chief Scientific Officer and R&D Director Andrew Cuthbertson said this year could be a “step change” for the industry on the back of the Government’s focus on innovation and its commitment to implement policies to support the sector.

Help IP Australia to improve their services
IP Australia is calling for start-ups and small businesses to be involved in their research to better understand businesses’ IP experience, and to inform the development of new IP Australia tools, resources and content. You can register to participate online.

In a separate project, IP Australia is trialing a new pre-examination process that aims to produce more meaningful reports to applicants, and potentially earlier finalisation of patent applications. The trial is being run with more than 1,000 selected applications. Outcomes of the trial will be evaluated at the end of the financial year.

ACNC charity regulator to be retained
The Federal Government has announced that it will retain the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC), which regulates charities (including medical research institutes and universities). The future of the ACNC had been uncertain, with the Government previously calling for the charity regulator to be abolished.

Top 25 R&D spin-offs
From industry-funded ventures to university spin-offs and rising star start-ups, Science Meets Business has named its Top 25 Australian research and development spin-off companies.

Science Meets Parliament 2016
Science & Technology Australia (STA) held its annual Science Meets Parliament event in Canberra on 1-2 March. STA CEO Catriona Jackson had an article published in The Age to coincide with the events, and a series of behind-the-scenes videos were shot to help you catch up on proceedings.

National Press Club addresses
Two addresses at the National Press Club this month will be of interest to AAMRI members. New Chief Scientist Alan Finkel spoke on 2 March (transcript available here), and a special address called ‘The Future of Science: Women‘ will be held on 30 March, and will be broadcast on ABC24.

Bill Ferris’ keynote address on accelerating innovation
On 29 February, Bill Ferris AC, Chair of Innovation and Science Australia gave a Keynote Address at a Committee for Economic Development Australia event, Unlocking Australia’s Entrepreneurial Potential: Active Collaboration and Accelerated Commercialisation.

5.  Reports and resources

Causes of Death in Australia report
The Australian Bureau of Statistics has released its annual Causes of Death, Australia report. The report shows changing patterns of mortality reflecting an ageing population. Heart disease, dementia, stroke, lung cancer and chronic lower respiratory diseases remain the top 5 leading causes of death in Australia, accounting for more than one third of all deaths.

Chronic Failure in Primary Care
Ineffective management of chronic diseases costs the Australian health system more than $320 million per year in avoidable hospital admissions, according to a new Grattan Institute report, Chronic Failure in Primary Care.

Index of Wellbeing for Older Australians
The Index of Wellbeing for Older Australians is an Australia-wide study – the first of its kind – into the wellbeing of older people. It maps how older Australians are faring nationally across five key areas including health, resources, participation and wealth.

Forecasting Dementia in 2050
Forecasting Dementia in 2050, released by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling, estimates that the number of Australians living with dementia will increase from 380,000 to almost one million by 2050.

Closing the Gap Prime Minister’s Report 2016
This is the eighth Closing the Gap Report produced since targets were set by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in 2008. The report identifies progress against the seven Closing the Gap targets.

Cutting Red Tape to save charities $29 million
Cutting red tape could save Australian charities up to $29 million per year, according to a new report released by the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC) and Deloitte Access Economics. The report focused on three key areas of charity regulation: fundraising, incorporated association legislation, and state and territory taxation.

6.  Funding & award opportunities

Fresh Science applications now open
Fresh Science is a national competition that finds early-career researchers with discoveries, helps them find the compelling ‘story’ in their research and then puts them in the spotlight, showcasing them to the public and the media. Fresh Science will be held in May and June 2016 in any states where funding is secured. Applications close 23 March.

Health Sector Women’s Leadership Grants
Women & Leadership Australia has announced $250,000 in scholarships for the development of women from early career through to senior levels in the health sector. Medical researchers are eligible to apply for the grants, with applications closing on 31 March. For an expression of interest form please email ijohnson@wla.edu.au.

Jeannie Ferris Cancer Australia Recognition Award
The Jeannie Ferris Cancer Australia Recognition Award will be given to a consumer and to a health professional, to recognise their outstanding contribution to improving outcomes for women with gynaecological cancers. The award is open to health professionals or researchers working in the area of gynaecological cancers, along with members of the community. Nominations close 31 March.

Cancer Council Victoria Postdoctoral Fellowships
Postdoctoral fellowships are offered to provide Victorian scientists who have recently completed a PhD with support for an additional year of research based on their thesis work. The application must establish that the research will be greatly enhanced by having the candidate spend a further year with the same research group. Applications close 31 March.

L’Oreal UNESCO for Women in Science Fellowships
L’Oreal will award three post-doctoral female scientists in Australia with a $25,000 Fellowship this year. Applicants within five years of completing their PhD are welcome from a variety of fields including life sciences, clinical and health sciences, material sciences, physical sciences, mathematics or engineering. Applications close 12 April.

Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellowships
Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellowships support the best and brightest cardiovascular researchers as they build their research capacity and become leaders of research groups. Two levels of Future Leader Fellowships are offered for researchers 3-10 years post-PhD. Applications close 13 April.

Heart Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowships
Heart Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowships encourage and support early-career cardiovascular health researchers to develop research skills and independence. Fellowships are available to researchers in the first three years after obtaining their PhD. Applications close 22 April.

Building Better Futures for Health: A Product Design Challenge
Sydney-based company ide Group is awarding $25,000 worth of product design and development support for the best health innovation product idea pitched at Building Better Futures for Health: A Product Design Challenge. Judged by a panel of medtech industry leaders, the event will take place during the Vivid Ideas Exchange sessions at the Museum of Contemporary Art on 2 June. Competition entries are due by 29 April.

Australian Academy of Science funding opportunities
Help recognise the science leaders in your organisation by nominating them for the Australian Academy of Science’s honorific awards. The Academy’s honorific awards are open to senior scientists as well as mid- and early-career researchers who are making amazing contributions to Australian science across a range of disciplines. Nominations close 30 April.

The Academy is also calling for applications for exchange programs, conference grants and travel fellowships. Closing dates range from March to June.

7.  Events & conferences

World Science Festival, 9-13 March, Brisbane, free and paid events
The World Science Festival brings together great minds in science and the arts to produce live and digital content that presents the wonders of science and the drama of scientific discovery to a broad general audience.

2016 Day of Immunology, 29 April, Melbourne
A series of events will be held in Melbourne on 29 April to celebrate the International Day of Immunology. A photography exhibition will be one of the events. Researchers at all levels are invited to apply and submit images featuring the immune system.

2016 ARCS Scientific Congress, 11-12 May, Sydney
The ARCS Scientific Congress is aimed at  industry, research institutions, government and academia involved in the development and commercialisation of medical therapeutics. ARCS will be running a combined congress for those working in the development of medicines and medical technologies including clinical research, regulatory affairs, quality/GMP, medical devices, reimbursement, pharmacovigilance, medical information, medical affairs, and workplace management.

The Australasian Melanoma Conference 2016, 28–29 Oct, Sydney
The 2016 Australiasian Melanoma Conference, hosted by the Melanoma Institute Australia, will be held at Sofitel Wentworth Hotel is Sydney. Abstract submissions are due by 20 June.