Research Australia supports voluntary National IP Framework for university research commercialisation

Research Australia has welcomed the Australian Government’s proposal for a standardised Intellectual Property Framework to streamline the commercialisation of university research, but has opposed the Framework being made mandatory.

In a joint submission with Medicines Australia, MTAA and AusBiotech, Research Australia has proposed a pilot of the IP Framework to collect information about how and where it is useful, which could be used to evaluate and refine the contracts and processes. We have also called for the Department to extend the consultation process and organise a series of sector-specific workshops to allow all stakeholders to explore the potential issues of a standard IP Framework in detail.

Read the submission here.

A new Strategy for the MRFF

Research Australia’s submission in response to the consultation on the new MRFF Strategy 2021-26 and related Priorities has proposed several critical changes:

    • It has emphasised the need for the Strategy to provide more guidance about how the MRFF should be invested.
    • Greater engagement with health systems in the states and territories is essential, as is a focus on preventive health.
    • The Strategy needs to address how evidence arising from the research and innovation funded by the MRFF is embedded into the health system.
    • The new MRFF strategy should identify and address gaps in skills and capability that prevent the implementation of evidence into practice into our health system.
    • Infrastructure funding priorities for the MRFF should be developed in consultation with Department of Education Skills and Employment and state and territory governments, to ensure research infrastructure is funded where needed and complements other programs and initiatives.
    • The Strategy should propose a mechanism for better differentiating the funding programs of the NHMRC and the MRFF. The Strategy should also propose the development of a national HMR strategy to better coordinate funding for HMR from all sources, in much the same way the first strategy proposed a whole of government approach to addressing funding for the full cost of research.
    • COVID-19 has highlighted the particular difficulties facing early- and mid-career researchers. The Strategy could commit the MRFF to considering how the design of the MRFF’s funding programs could better support EMCRs.
    • The effects of COVID-19 in our region provide the opportunity for the strategy to consider how Australia can use its research capability to support our neighbours’ response to and recovery from COVID-19, as an exemplar for broader engagement on regional health issues.

Read Research Australia’s submission here.

 

National Medicines Policy- researchers as partners

Research Australia’s submission to the review of the National Medicines Policy has made the case for researchers to be formally recognised as partners in the Policy alongside government, industry, healthcare providers and consumers. We have also supported the expansion of the policy to include vaccines and new health technologies. Our submission provides examples of how the Policy can be more consumer-centric, by making better use of the data already collected to understand consumer behaviour in relation to medicines.

Read Research Australia’s submission.

Changes to MRFF investments and disbursements

The Investment Funds Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 will:

    • change the way the MRFF is invested,
    • allow the annual disbursements from the MRFF to be set for a period of up to five years, and
    • change the period for the MRFF Strategy and Priorities to six years and 3 years respectively (currently 5years and 2 years.)

In its submission to the The Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee Inquiry, Research Australia has welcomed the changes, which have the potential to increase the funds available from the MRFF to fund research and innovation and provide greater stability. Research Australia has urged the MRFF Act be amended to make it explicit that the capital value of the MRFF is to be maintained in the long term.

Research Australia’s submission is available here.

A patent box tax concession for Australia

Research Australia welcomed the Government’s announcement in the May 2021 Budget that it would introduce a patent box tax concession for the medical and biotechnology sector. As part of the further development of this proposal, the Australian Treasury has issued a consultation paper, outlining the key features. Research Australia’s response addresses several major concerns with the proposal including the focus on incentivising licensing but not manufacturing, and limiting eligibility to patents granted in Australia.

We are working with our membership and other key stakeholders across the sector, and look forward to engaging further with Treasury as the development of the patent box continues.

Research Australia’s submission is available here.

Research Australia responds to National Data Strategy Consultation

The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet is responsible for developing a National Data Strategy to guide all of the Government’s initiatives in relation to data. Research Australia was invited to comment on a high level outline of the principles and topics for the strategy, as the first stage of the Strategy’s development.

Our response has emphasised the importance of building social licence for the greater use of data. We have also highlighted the need to increase the capacity of the APS and Government agencies to share data securely and safely, which is is not currently addressed as part of the strategy. The submission also draws attention to the need to work with State and Territory Governments to increase the sharing and linkage of datasets across the jurisdictions.

Read Research Australia’s submission here.

A new Mental Health and Wellbeing Act for Victoria

Research Australia has responded to the Victorian Government’s proposal for a new Mental Health and Wellbeing Act. We have proposed that it adopt the following as principles for service design and delivery:

    • New treatments and services are evaluated for their relative clinical and cost effectiveness and user acceptability, and where found to be more efficacious than existing treatments, are made available rapidly to all people who could benefit;
    • Existing treatments and services are evaluated for their relative clinical and cost effectiveness and user acceptability, and discontinued swiftly (and replaced) where they are proven to be less efficacious than alternative treatments;
    • Promoting the importance of research to achieving the best possible mental health and wellbeing;
    • Supporting people with lived experience, their families and carers, and the mental health workforce to co-design and participate in research;

Research Australia’s submission is available here.

Championing research in Primary Care

The Primary Health Reform Steering Group has been charged by the Australian Government with assisting the development of a 10 year Plan for Primary Care. Research Australia has used its submission to the Group’s Discussion Paper to make the case for a greater role for research in the new 10 year Plan.

Research Australia welcomes the Plan’s recognition of the key role research can and must play if reforms are to be achieved. Research Australia has argued for research to be integrated onto the system and to be informed by primary care practitioners (including nurses and midwives, allied health and general practitioners) and patients and carers.

As the national peak body for health and medical research, Research Australia has included case studies from its members of relevant primary care research that demonstrates the expertise available in Australia to support implementation of the Steering Group’s Plan.

Research Australia’s submission is available here.

Supporting further research in mitochondrial donation

Research Australia’s submission to the Senate Inquiry into the Mitochondrial Donation Law Reform (Maeve’s Law) Bill 2021 has endorsed the cautious and rigorous approach the legislation takes to permitting research into the development of mitochondrial donation techniques. The approach of initially allowing mitochondrial donation as part of a clinical trial is an appropriate recognition of the stage of development of this technology. It ensures that mitochondrial donation will only occur with the informed consent of participants and in a highly regulated environment.

Read Research Australia’s submission.

The Senate Committee tabled its report in the Senate on 18 August. Read the report.

A Preventive Health Strategy for Australia enabled by research

Following a Discussion Paper released in 2020, the Australian Government released a draft National Preventive Health Strategy for consultation in early 2021.

Research Australia’s response to the consultation emphasises:

    • the critical role of research in supporting the evaluation of existing programs and measures and the development and implementation of new programs;
    • the importance of the proposal to increase funding for preventive health measures to 5% of health expenditure by 2030; and
    • while providing information is an important tool to empower and support people, supporting people to make the best possible decisions also require practical strategies and programs that can support and incentivise behaviour change, and policies that make it easier for people to make healthy choices.

Research Australia’s submission is available here.

Our response to the earlier 2020 Discussion paper is available here.