What do we know about the Medical Research Future Fund?

What do we know about the Medical Research Future Fund?

This page provides an overview of what we know about the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).

Find out what has already been funded by the MRFF here.

 

The MRFF will double the health and medical research budget in Australia.

The Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) is a major new source of Federal Government funding for medical research. The MRFF is a sovereign fund that was set up in 2015 and will fund medical research and its translation from the dividends. The MRFF is now at $6.8 billion (as 3 July, 2017), with a target of $20 billion by 2020-21.

Once it reaches the full $20 billion, the MRFF will be providing approximately $1 billion per year in medical research funding.

 

Combined with the existing annual investment in health and medical research through the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), the MRFF will effectively double the Australian Government’s investment in health and medical research.

 

 

 

The MRFF Strategy is to fund research and its translation that will lead to direct health and economic outcomes.

Both the five year strategy (2016-2021) and two year priorities (2016-2018) for MRFF funding were devised by the Australian Medical Research Advisory Board (AMRAB) and released in November, 2016. In these two documents AMRAB put forward recommendations about where the MRFF could invest to deliver the best healthcare benefits through translation of health and medical research.

 

 

 

The first funding schemes from the MRFF were announced in May-June, 2017.

Some of the priority areas set out by AMRAB received funding from the MRFF in it’s first round of disbursements in 2017. $65.9 million in MRFF funding was directed to a variety of schemes to fund priority research areas, research translation and other ways to support medical research activities.

 

Some of the MRFF schemes in 2017 will distribute funding to research projects via competitive grant processes that will be administered by the Department of Health, NHMRC or other independent bodies (e.g. CanTeen). The remaining schemes have funded new and existing infrastructure to boost research capabilities in key areas such as clinical trials.

Several funding announcements have also been made for the 2017-18 financial year which include forward commitments to funding that vary from 4 to 10 years in large scale moonshot projects such as the Australian Brain Cancer Mission managed by Cancer Australia, and support for biotechnology development and commercialisation such as the BioMedTech Horizons scheme managed by MTPConnect in 2017-18.

AAMRI has produced an up-to-date summary of MRFF funding, including timelines and information on how to access competitive funding schemes.

 

MRFF funding decisions will be guided by sixteen principles.

The aim of the MRFF is transform health and medical research and innovation to improve lives, build the economy and contribute to health system sustainability. On 6th December, 2017, the Australian Medical Research Advisory Board (AMRAB) released sixteen principles that will underpin MRFF disbursements going forward. Read the AAMRI/Group of Eight joint statement supporting the funding principles here.

The principles are listed below (reproduced from the Medical Research Future Fund – Funding Principles Fact Sheet, Department of Health):

PRINCIPLES

The disbursement of MRFF will:

  1. Occur in accordance with the Medical Research Future Fund Act 2015.
  2. Reference the current Australian Medical Research and Innovation Strategy and related Priorities prepared by the independent Australian Medical Research Advisory Board.
  3. Complement existing funding into health and medical research through a strategic top-down approach to investment.
  4. Ensure funding is provided utilising a structured contestable process to ensure the highest quality ideas, talent and projects are identified.
  5. Utilise review processes that embrace diverse perspectives, including alternative disciplines, industry, healthcare and consumer experience.
  6. Harness experienced national and international peer reviewers to ensure the best ideas, talent and projects are funded, without duplicating efforts elsewhere.
  7. Appreciate the role of competitiveness in the research sector as a means of identifying great potential and innovation, and raising Australia’s international research reputation.
  8. Encourage partnerships in merit-based collaborative research to engage lateral and fresh thinkers and ideas, and enhance skill and knowledge combinations.
  9. Consider favourably proposals that have collaboration, translation and scalability features to ensure the MRFF is transformative and effort is enduring.
  10. Fund specific health issue initiatives assessed on scientific rigour, where there is both burden and unmet research need.
  11. Fund programs that utilise a range of innovative administrative mechanisms to ensure funding is justified, agile, effective and timely.
  12. Evaluate the return on investment for all funded programs and projects.
  13. Appreciate the need for infrastructure support proportionate to the funded research, and not establish any ongoing operational or maintenance dependencies.
  14. Fund transformative game-changing research that is balanced by investment in systemic sector improvements.
  15. Encourage multi-government and agency, private sector and philanthropic co-investment to maximise program outcomes.
  16. Nurture proposals that have potential, but do not receive funding, so that future opportunities and talent are not lost.

 

MRFF funding for medical research will increase over the next five years.

As the MRFF continues to grow over the next few years with investment from the federal Government, the health and medical research funding will rapidly increase.

 

Financial YearMRFF funding for
health and medical
research
MRFF balance
2016-2017$65.9 million$4.6 billion
2017-2018$121 million$6.8 billion
2018-2019$215 million$9.1 billion
2019-2020$386 million$16.9 billion
2020-2021$643 million$20 billion

Actual figures are in bold. All other figures are projected (Source: Department of Finance (2017) Portfolio Budget Statements).