What do we know about the Medical Research Future Fund?

What do we know about the Medical Research Future Fund?

29th August, 2017

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 $6.9 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.



MRFF funding started flowing in 2017 with support for clinical trials, the next generation of medical researchers and rare diseases.

Some of the priority areas set out by AMRAB received MRFF funding from the first round of MRFF disbursements announced in May, 2017. MRFF funding announcements have continued into 2018 to support a variety of schemes in priority research areas such as rare cancers and diseases, clinician researcher fellowships and other ways to support medical research activities.

Some of the MRFF schemes 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, Cure MND Foundation). 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. Some of the schemes will be administered through the NHMRC, such as the Next Generation Clinician Researchers program (Fellowships) and the permanent, annual Rare Cancers and Rare Diseases research funding.

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 full list of sixteen principles fact sheet is available here: Medical Research Future Fund – Funding Principles Fact Sheet, Department of Health.


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
MRFF balance
2016-2017$65.9 million$4.6 billion
2017-2018$121 million$6.9 billion
2018-2019$215 million$9.2 billion
2019-2020$386 million$17.2 billion
2020-2021$643 million$20.1 billion

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