Australians continue to place improving hospitals and healthcare as the number one spending priority for the Australian Government ahead of infrastructure, education standards and employment opportunities.
We are pleased to see that more funding for health and medical research is the 6th most important of the 27 priorities presented in the poll. (It has been consistently in top 10 ever since we started polling in 2003.)
Interest among Australians in health and medical research is high with 89% saying they are interested in health and medical research. However, while confident in their ability to contribute to decision making about the future direction of HMR most Australians don’t know how, and many don’t believe they’d be heard. Our governments and research organisations clearly have more work to do to meaningfully engage with the broader community.
Continue reading “Australians embrace health and medical research in a changing landscape of healthcare”
1 August 2018
My Health Record: Health and medical researchers welcome strengthened privacy
Australia’s health and medical research sector has welcomed Government moves to strengthen privacy protections of the My Health Record.
“Australians must be able to confidently participate in this scheme. Strengthening the My Health Record Act is an important first step in ensuring public trust in the system.
“People have real concerns over privacy and access of their My Health Record and those concerns must be heard and addressed through additional communications to the public about the benefits and purpose of the My Health Record. This is too important an opportunity to forego because of a lack of information,” said Research Australia’s CEO, Ms Levin.
An overnight poll of Research Australia members shows continued support from the health and medical research community for the My Health Record, with a majority of respondents in favour of the scheme.
Research Australia has written to Federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt, offering the assistance of health and medical researchers in explaining how My Health Record data could be used to further vital health and medical research and improve our health system.
Research Australia is the national peak body representing the whole of the health and medical research pipeline: www.researchaustralia.org
Media contact: Lucy Clynes 0404 068 912
The 2018 Federal Budget provides an optimistic forecast for Australia’s economic future, with increased revenue and several new funding announcements, as might be expected of an election year Budget. The health and medical research and innovation sectors have not missed out, with confirmation the Medical Research Future Fund remains on track to reach its capital target of $20 billion by 2020-21 and the announcement of a long list of MRFF funded projects stretching over the next decade (well in advance of the current two year funding priorities).
Consistent with Research Austrlalia’s earlier calls, including in its Pre-Budget Submission, the Government will direct $240 million of MRFF funding to a Frontier Medical Research program to develop innovative medical ideas, research devices and treatments.
A $500m Australian Genomics Health Futures Mission will help more than 20,000 Australians live longer and receive better treatment tailored to their needs.
The Government has announced plans to cap the funding available under the refundable R&D Tax Incentive at $4 million per year. While the caps will probably be more than enough for most small companies developing a new product, such a cap could have had a significant impact on small companies developing new medicines and therapies. However, the Government has heard our arguments and in a really positive development it has announced that clinical trials will be excluded from the cap. This is a great outcome for the health and medical research and innovation sector.
While there is some good news for tertiary students in rural areas with increased funding for sub-bachelor and bachelor programs and new rural medical programs in Victoria and NSW, the cuts announced last year remain.
In other news we have funding committed to research infrastructure.
Read on for more detail.
Medical Research Future Fund
$20 billion in capital by 2020-21
As at 31 March 2018 the MRFF had $6.7 billion in capital. Tonight’s budget confirms that the MRFF remains on track to reach the target of $20 billion in capital by 2020-21, with a forecast balance of $20.2 billion at 30 June 2021. $2.3 billion is scheduled to be added to the capital in the next financial year. The heavy lifting comes in financial year 2019-20, when $7.8 billion is forecast to be added to the MRFF capital balance. This is likely to be after the next Federal election.
|Capital to MRFF||2,242.199||2,288.550||7,830.490||2,409.476||Nil|
Funding from the MRFF
Forecast spending from the MRFF also remains as expected, with more than $222 million available to fund medical research and innovation in 2018-19, rising to $646 million by 2021/22, the first year after the MRFF reaches full capitalisation of $20 billion. Total funding provided by the MRFF up to and including 2021-22 is forecast to be just shy of $2 billion.
|Funding (2018 Budget)||143.315||222.383||392.703||650.236||645.951|
The Budget included numerous announcements of further funding to be made in the next financial year and further years, including:
- $125 million over 10 years from 2017-18 for a Million Minds Mental Health Research Mission to support priorities under the Fifth Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan;
- $75 million over four years from 2017-18 to extend the Rapid Applied Research Translation program that supports Advanced Health Research Translation Centres and Centres for Innovation in Regional Health;
- $18.1 million over four years from 2017-18 for a Keeping Australians Out of Hospital program to support preventive health, behavioural economics and reduce avoidable presentations to hospital;
- $39.8 million over four years from 2017-18 for a Targeted Health System and Community Organisation Research program with a focus on comparative effectiveness studies and consumer-driven research; and
- $17.5 million over four years from 2017-18 for research into Women’s Health and research into Maternal Health and First 2,000 Days to address the underlying social determinants of health that impact on a child’s early days of life.
The Government also announced that it will provide $1.3 billion from the MRFF over 10 years from 2017/18 for a National Health and Medical Industry Growth Plan to improve health outcomes and develop Australia as a global destination for medical sector jobs, research and clinical trials. The announcements include:
- $500 million over 10 years from 2017-18 committed to the Genomics Health Futures Mission, including $10.7 million in 2017-18 for genomics research;
- $240 million committed to the Frontier Health and Medical Research program;
- $248 million for expanded clinical trial programs;
- $125 million over nine years from 2019-20 to contribute to the Targeted Translation Research Accelerator for chronic conditions focussed on diabetes and heart disease; and
- $94.3 million for biomedtech programs and industry research collaborations.
Research Australia is particularly pleased to see the announcement of the Frontier Health and Medical Research Program, which we have been calling for.
NHMRC and ARC Funding
In its Pre-Budget submission, Research Australia called for increases in funding for the NHMRC and ARC’s research programs.
The 2018-19 Budget reveals that funding for the NHMRC’s programs is falling in real terms. Funding to the Medical Research Endowment Account (MREA) for the NHMRC’s research programs is $829 million for 2018-19. Estimates for the following three years have the funding remaining virtually stable with increases of roughly 1.5% each year. The CPI was 1.9% for the year to 31 March 2018, so in real terms NHMRC funding continues to decline over the forward estimates, as it has for several years now.
NHMRC MREA Funding
|Funding to the MREA 2018 Budget
The Australian Research Council’s Funding Programs are critical to Australian publicly funded research including to the life sciences and medical technologies.
Over the forward estimates, the funding to the ARC for the Discovery Program declines slightly in later years compared to the estimates in last year’s budget. The increases year on year are a little greater than the current inflation rate of 1.9%.
|Discovery (2018 Budget)
|Discovery (2017 Budget)
The Linkage Program was singled out in the Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA) as an important component of Australia’s innovation system, and it was announced that from 1 July 2016 the Program would be open to continuous applications and decision making would be fast tracked. Funding over the forward estimates is slightly higher than forecast in last year’s budget, and shows increases of around 3% each year, around 1% higher than the current rate of inflation.
|Linkage (2018 Budget)
|Linkage (2017 Budget)||265.319||265.843||275.444||281.366||N/A|
While not funding ‘medical and dental research’, the ARC Linkage program remains important to the health and medical research and innovation sectors. For example, the latest round of ARC Linkage Program grants included funding to develop bio inks for 3D printing, a better inhaler for medicines, better understanding antibiotic use, and improved brain imaging.
In addition to providing funding for the ARC Program, the Department of Education and Training also provides funding to universities to help cover the indirect costs of research. The forecasts for the next financial year and the following two years reflect increases of around 6% per annum, flattening out to a little more than 2% between 2020/21 and 2021/22.
Research Support Program
The question of funding for the indirect costs of research funded by the MRFF continues to remain unclear. Research Australia will be investigating further whether the increase in the Research Support Program is a decision to increase the ratio at which funding is awarded, or simply accounting for an expected increase in direct research revenues, such as MRFF funding to universities.
The whole issue of indirect research costs remains an important unresolved issue for the whole health and medical research sector. Research Australia continues to call for a whole of government approach to the issue of funding indirect research costs. Research Australia proposes that the Chief Scientist lead a review of the funding of indirect research costs to establish a sustainable and equitable funding program. In the short term, MRFF funding to universities needs to be treated the same as NHMRC and ARC competitive grant funding, and the pool of funding for the Research Support Program should be increased proportionately.
The key response to the Research Infrastructure Roadmap was a commitment by the Government to develop a Research Infrastructure Investment Plan to guide future funding. This Investment Plan has now been released as part of the Budget. A 12-year National Research Infrastructure Investment Plan will commit $1.9 billion to critical national research infrastructure, including $140 million for upgrades to the two most powerful computing facilities in the Southern Hemisphere.
R&D Tax Incentive
The Research and Development Tax Incentive is available to all companies that incur expenditure that meets the definition of eligible research and development. For larger companies that are making a profit, it provides a non-refundable tax incentive, at a rate of 38.5% of the eligible R&D expenditure (otherwise claimable as a business expense at the corporate tax rate of 30%). This reduces their tax bill.
Smaller companies, with revenue of less than $20 million are eligible for a refundable tax incentive. This tax incentive applies at the rate of 43.5% of the eligible expenditure, and is payable even if the company has not made a taxable profit. It is a direct (‘refundable’) payment to the company from the ATO.
Introduced in 2012, the R&D Tax Incentive has been a victim of its own success, with expenditure on the measure consistently exceeding Government forecasts. Relatively minor changes have been made to the R&D Tax Incentive in recent years, including introducing caps and reducing the rate by 1.5% to the current 38.5% and 43.5% but other measures were blocked by the Senate. In 2015 the Government initiated a review of the R&D Tax Incentive. Proposals by the review to better target the R&D Tax Incentive have been strongly opposed by industry. More recently the ISA’s report Australia 2030: Prosperity through Innovation (the 2030 Plan) has proposed a couple of further amendments to the Review’s recommended measures, including doubling the cap on the refundable R&D tax Incentive to $4million, and modifying the proposed intensity threshold to be applied to the non- refundable tax incentive.
In tonight’s Budget, the Treasurer has confirmed a range of measures to improve the integrity of the R&D Tax Incentive Program, including introducing a $4 million annual cap on the refundable component of the R&D Tax Incentive. Crucially, for the health and medical research and innovation sector, clinical trials will be exempted from this cap. This is a great outcome for the sector, which has argued that the high costs of taking a new therapeutic to market mean that small companies in this field would be unfairly disadvantaged by the cap.
Funding forecasts for the CRC Program are largely in line with last year’s budget. The program is forecast to receive $892 million over the period from 2017/18 to 2021/22.
The CRC Program is important to health and medical research and innovation with about one third of the CRCs funded over the life of the program being health-related. The most recent round of CRC funding included $55 million over 7 years for the Digital Health CRC.
The Turnbull Government has just released its response to the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Data Availability and Use. A full copy of the Government’s response is accessible here.
The Australian Government will invest $65 million over the forward estimates to reform the Australian data system and introduce a range of measures to implement the Productivity Commission’s recommendations. There are three key features underpinning these reforms:
A new Consumer Data Right will give citizens greater transparency and control over their own data.
A National Data Commissioner will implement and oversee a simpler, more efficient data sharing and release framework. The National Data Commissioner will be the trusted overseer of the public data system.
New legislative and governance arrangements will enable better use of data across the economy while ensuring appropriate safeguards are in place to protect sensitive information
Overall, Research Australia welcomes reform in this space, particularly when we’re seeing health and medical research positioned as a key player in the national conversation on data. Former Australian of the Year and respected medical researcher Prof Fiona Stanley is cited by the Government as a key proponent of data reforms.
Research Australia’s own submission to the Productivity Commission’s 2016 Inquiry into Data Availability and Use has been considered in the Government’s response and you’ll see Research Australia quoted:
“Some 91 per cent of Australians would be willing to share their de-identified medical data if it went towards research purposes.” Research Australia, 2016
Research Australia will be discussing with relevant Ministers how the Government proposes including the States and Territories in its reform agenda.
Research Australia is currently reviewing the Government’s response and will provide more detailed commentary in the following days.
Research Australia is pleased to announce that nominations are now open for the 2018 Health and Medical Research Awards. The Awards are the pinnacle of health and medical research achievement in Australia, and we are now encouraging members to nominate individuals and organisations who have made an outstanding contribution to delivering a better quality of life and stronger economy for all Australians.
Nominating for a Health and Medical Research Award is easy, and as a Research Australia there is also no cost attached to a nomination. Never has it been so important to highlight the crucial role health and medical research play in all our lives, so nominate those who have made a difference and ensure they get the recognition they deserve.
Previous recipients of the Awards included Macquarie Group Foundation and Volvo Car Australia (Leadership in Corporate Giving); Nicola Forrest and Andrew Forrest AO (Great Australian Philanthropy Award); Prof Michael Barton OAM (Health Services Research); Connie Johnson & Sam Johnson (Advocacy); Sir Gustav Nossal, AC, CBE, FAA, FRS and Prof Sharon Lewin (The Peter Wills Medal) and more.
Nominations are now open for the following categories:
- The Peter Wills Medal
- Great Australian Philanthropy Award
- Health Services Research Award
- Leadership in Corporate Giving Award
- Data Innovation Award
- Research Champion Award
Nominations open: Friday 27 April 2018
Nominations close: 9am Monday 23 July 2018
Awards Dinner: Thursday 8 November, Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour
Partner with us
The Health and Medical Research Awards Dinner is the premier health and medical research event in Australia, with in excess of 200 of the most influential decision makers within the sector in attendance. If you are interested in getting in front of our delegates, then we can tailor a partnership package to suit your needs. Please contact Michael Martin at email@example.com to start a conversation today on how we can help you.
If you have any questions about the Awards process please don’t hesitate to contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Research Australia team on 02 9295 8546.
Research Australia is calling on the Australian government to use the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) to boost research at the limits of our application of human health science and technology.
Australia has the potential to lead markets and create new ones by applying cutting-edge science and technology to new, first in world applications that improve human health.
Frontier technologies in areas like precision medicine, machine learning, the human microbiome, gene and cell-based medicines, space medicine and immunotherapy are being researched in Australia. Innovations such as these will fundamentally change the way future generations manage their health. The challenge is to make sure this research is commercialised in Australia and that the health benefits are enjoyed by Australians.
“The Medical Research Future Fund is a once in a generation opportunity to change our future. In a series of conversations with health funders – both Government and the private sector – we have been canvassing ways in which we could use the MRFF to make large-scale investment into a suite of research at the outer limits of what we currently know about human health.
“We don’t want to be too definitive about exactly what areas of research this should cover, but it should certainly be focused around disciplines and technologies not yet routinely applied in mainstream healthcare settings,” said Research Australia CEO, Nadia Levin.
Under Research Australia’s Medical Frontiers proposal, the Government could invest around 10 per cent of the MRFF1 in frontier research with the potential to transform how healthcare is practiced in Australia and overseas. You might have seen this proposal in our Pre-Budget Submission and in our ongoing political engagement activities.
“Essentially it is about economies of scale – we’re asking the Government to inject significant amounts into existing potential frontier research projects to exponentially boost their progress towards a translatable stage. The project which emerges as leader of the pack of these “boosted” projects will receive large-scale funding to enable a frontier outcome.
“This is innovative HMR funding. It’s new and bold and importantly, it positions Australia as a valuable contender in the global health space which means more opportunities for us all,” Ms Levin said.
Smarter investment in innovation in the health and medical research sector contributes to ensuring Australia’s future wealth is built on the capacity and ingenuity of its people.
“We put ideas like this on the table for the consideration of both public and private sector research funders because as the national peak body, we have a responsibility to talk more about how health and medical research can contribute to Australia’s health wealth and economic wealth.”
1 Based on the MRFF being fully capitalised at $20b in underlying funds.
Research Australia is proud to announce the launch of our inaugural Speaker Series events, with the first event to take place on May 17 at the Parliament of NSW.
Research Australia’s Speaker Series events will be free for our members to attend, and will bring together sector leaders in panel-style discussions over breakfast or lunch at venues across major cities around Australia as they discuss the most critical issues facing the Australian health and medical sector and its consumers today. The events create new opportunities to talk about the bold ideas that will drive change in Australian health care and health technology, and enable the whole of the research pipeline to participate and create a deeper understanding of the role each part of that sector plays in the pipeline.
Speaker Series Launch Event
The 2018 Speaker Series Launch Event will take place at the Parliament of NSW, where our panel will discuss the topic of “Is New South Wales ready to harness the transformative power of data in health and medical research?”
Presented by Vodafone Foundation in support of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, join us at our inaugural Speaker Series event where our panel of expert industry leaders will explore this topic. Our panel includes:
- Dr Jean-Frédéric Levesque – Chief Executive Officer, NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation
- Professor Emily Banks – Scientific Director, 45 and Up Study, Sax Institute
- Dr Avi Ratnanesan – Founder and CEO, Energesse
- Harry Iles-Mann – Patient/Consumer Advocate – Consumer Reference Lead, Australian Digital Health Agency
The event will be moderated by Sophie Scott, the ABC’s National Medical Reporter.
With introductions from:
- Nadia Levin – CEO and Managing Director, Research Australia
- Dan Lloyd – Chief Strategy Officer and Corporate Affairs Director, Chairman, Vodafone Foundation
Date: Thursday 17 May 2018
Venue: Strangers’ Function Room, Parliament of NSW, 6 Macquarie Street, Sydney
A light breakfast will be served at the event, and registrations for the event are free of charge for employees of Research Australia members.
Please click here for more information or to register your attendance today.
The health and medical research sector welcomes the recent announcement by the Treasurer that the Government will respond to the R&D Tax Incentive Review in the upcoming Budget and end the lingering uncertainty that surrounds the future of this important scheme.
The Treasurer wants the R&D Tax incentive to direct funds to truly research-intensive industries. In particular, to those companies that won’t immediately benefit from a lower company tax rate.
The Treasurer need look no further than the health and medical research sector. These are the kinds of entities who rely on the R&D Tax incentive to develop high-cost, long lead time technologies like medicines and vaccines, with clinical trials.
Relative to many other sectors, the commercialisation of health and medical research has longer timeframes, due to significant scientific and regulatory hurdles to reach market (patients), and there is higher expenditure on R&D, particularly in later stages with activities like clinical trials.
The health and medical research sector is asking to be exempt from any caps on the refundable component of the R&D Tax incentive.
If a $4 million cap for the refundable component is implemented in the upcoming Federal Budget, then at the very least, health innovators should be carved out to ensure they can still run clinical trials in Australia. Clinical trials provide early access for Australian patients to promising new treatments – often in areas where effective treatments don’t exist. Clinical trials also drive significant economic activity, support STEMM jobs and attract foreign investment.
The health and medical research sector is willing to support changes to the R&D Tax incentive which ensure that it is delivering real benefit to Australia because we want the scheme to have long-term sustainability. The right policy settings will optimise the ability of Australian health and medical researchers to contribute to a healthy population and a healthy economy.
Next week Research Australia will be using our unique convening power to bring together key representative organisations from across the health and medical research pipeline to identify the key issues that unite us as we approach the next federal election.
Our inaugural Pre-Election Summit will be held at Old Parliament house in Canberra, where we will work with the representatives to capture the issues our sector wants commitment to – from a future Australian Government of any political persuasion. The Summit is another example of our efforts to advocating for sector-wide positions on government policies on behalf of and in conjunction with our members.
The organisations represented at the workshop include:
- ARCS Australia
- Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes
- Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences
- Australian Clinical Trials Alliance
- Australian Health Economics Society
- Australian Venture Capitalists Association Ltd
- Consumers Health Forum of Australia
- Australian Society for Medical Research
- Medicines Australia
- Medical Technology Association of Australia
- Rare Voices Australia
On the day, there will also be presentations and messages from:
- Hon Greg Hunt MP, Federal Minister for Health
- Hon Catherine King MP, Shadow Minister for Health
- Senator Hon Dr Richard Di Natale, Leader of the Australian Greens
- Professor Frank Gannon, Director and CEO, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute
- Terry Barnes, Social Policy Consultant, Cormorant Policy Advice
- Professor Garry Jennings AO, Executive Director, Sydney Health Partners
We would like to thank all members who responded to our recent communication asking for input to the priorities and discussion agenda for the day. You have helped shaped the issues to be discussed on the day, which will include:
- A bipartisan commitment to the Medical Research Future Fund reaching $20bn in funds under management by 2021.
- Sustainable, predictable research and development tax-incentives.
- A renewed commitment to strengthening Australia’s international attractiveness as a destination for clinical trials
- A bipartisan commitment to the national roll-out of My Health Record and the secondary use of deidentified My Health Record data for research purposes.
Please follow Research Australia’s Twitter account @ResAustralia on the day for live updates from the Pre-election Summit.