To learn more about the MRFF visit the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes (AAMRI) website.
Bionics Institute Director, Professor Rob Shepherd was recently invited to the Commonwealth Government’s Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee to inquire into and report on the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) Bills. Passage of the Bills, expected to be debated today, would pave the way for the appointment of the Advisory Board to develop the MRFF’s five year Strategy and two year Priorities, and enable the first disbursements of around $10 million to be made this financial year.
Read More of Rob Shepherd’s statement.
Bionics Institute Director, Professor Rob Shepherd was recently invited to the Commonwealth Government’s Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee to inquire into and report on the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) Bills 2015.
Bionics Institute’s Opening Statement
• The Bionics Institute enthusiastically supports the concept of a Medical Research Future Fund and notes that it provides an opportunity to lift the funding of medical research in Australia towards the OECD average.
• Australia ranks highly in terms of academic research outcomes measured by publication output and quality. Analysis of our ability to commercialise research outcomes shows we are not performing to the same high standards – in fact we are well below the OECD average. Part of this bottleneck is the lack of funding options for research organisations as their research transitions from discovery to translation, i.e., they enter the “valley of death”. We see the MRFF as an outstanding opportunity to drive innovation across this valley of death by commercialising quality research to improve the health and well-being of Australians while invigorating activity in the medtech and biotech sectors.
• Australia has a very high proportion of its researchers working in Universities and medical research institutes (MRIs) – 61%; while only 30% work in industry. This ratio of employment of R&D staff is the opposite to that seen in western European economies where commercial R&D plays an important role in maintaining industry leadership. In addition the OECD ranks Australia at the bottom of the OECD nations for collaboration between the University and MRI sector and R&D active industry. We believe, focussing a significant proportion of MRFF funding on commercial innovation will help drive more effective collaboration between these sectors, particularly if some MRFF funding is strategically leveraged with commercial funds.
• Phase 1 and 2a clinical trials form a key part of the commercialisation pipeline but they are expensive and difficult for research organisations to fund. The MRFF should include competitive funding for clinical trials with well-developed business cases.
• While we applaud the introduction of the MRFF, mechanisms need to be put in place that would protect the NHMRC pay line from the temptation of erosion by future governments.