In its pre-Budget submission to the Treasurer, Research Australia has urged the Government to remain committed to the full implementation of the National Innovation and Science Agenda, continue funding of the MRFF’s capital in accordance with the existing timetable, and emphasised the need to at least maintain real levels of funding for the NHMRC and ARC grant programs.
The submission also raises the looming issue of the funding of indirect research costs associated with MRFF grants. Research Australia has called for MRFF grants to be included as Category 1 income for universities’ Research Block Grants and for their inclusion in the IRIISS scheme for MRIs in the short term, and echoes the MRFF Advisory Board’s call for a whole of government approach to this issue in the longer term.
Pre Budget Submission
The NHMRC CEO Professor Anne Kelso has appointed an Expert Advisory Group to provide advice and assistance to the NHMRC in undertaking a Review of Funding Programs. A Consultation Paper was issued in July and was followed by a series of public forums in August.
Research Australia has made a submission in response to the Consultation Paper supporting the proposal for two streams of grants, one which emphasises the researchers’ track record and the other on the research proposal. The submission proposes that the limit on the number of Chief Investigators be removed and does not support a fixed duration of 5 years for grants. Research Australia supports the proposal for early career people grants with a research component, and recommends that a Fellowship Program independent of Team or Investigator grants be retained, particularly for researchers who participate in and support multiple research projects and would be adversely affected by the proposed caps on the number of grants a person can apply for or hold.
The following are some of the key announcements in the 2016-17 Budget which affect health and medical research. Information has been drawn from the budget papers, including portfolio and agency statements. The Budget papers are available here.
Medical Research Future Fund
The Budget has confirmed the Government’s continued commitment to the MRFF. However, it is now expected to meet the $20 billion target in 2020-21, a year later than first projected in the Budget in 2014 (Note 1). 2019-20 was confirmed as the target date for full capitalisation of the MRFF as recently as December last year, in the NISA Fact Sheet on the Biomedical Translation Fund (Note 2).
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