New MRFF Strategy
The new MRFF Strategy, guiding MRFF expenditure for the period from 2021 to 2026 was issued on 2 November 2021. It is available here.
The Vision, for ‘A health system fully informed by quality health and medical research’ remains the same.
The Aim is to ‘Transform health and medical research using priority-driven investments that promote collaborative research, research innovation, research translation and impact to improve lives, whilst contributing to health system sustainability, nurturing the next generation of researchers and building the Australian economy.’
The Strategy identifies the MRFF’s role as prioritising ‘current and emerging health needs, addressing burden of disease and gaps in translation and health outcomes.’
There are four succinctly stated new objectives covering equity of health, translation and commercialisation, the research workforce and responding to emerging future challenges. These are accompanied by seven guiding principles. The Strategic platforms outlined in the first Strategy have been removed.
The current Priorities, for the two year period from November 2020, are available here.
Second round of Priorities
The second round of Priorities, for the period from 2018 to October 2020, were released on 7 November 2018 following a public consultation. They are available here.
First Strategy and Priorities to guide funding
The inaugural 5 year Strategy and 2 year Priorities developed by the MRFF Advisory Board were released on Wednesday 9 November 2016. The Strategy is available here, and the initial Priorities are available here.
The Strategy’s vision is ‘A health system fully informed by quality health and medical research’ and its Aim is ‘Through strategic investment, to transform health and medical research and innovation to improve lives, build the economy and contribute to health system sustainability.’
This focus in the vision on the health system is illuminating, and is carried through into the Strategy and Objectives. The objectives underlying this Aim emphasise the importance of creating health and economic benefits, embedding research evidence in healthcare, and driving collaboration and innovation across research and healthcare.
The Strategy itself is new, but provides continuity with existing strategies and programs. It describes the MRFF Strategy as building on the vision outlined in the Strategic Review of Health and Medical Research (the McKeon Review) undertaken in 2012, and seeks to both work with and complement the programs of the NHMRC, the National Innovation and Science Agenda and Innovation and Science Australia.
The Strategy is not seeking to achieve everything- it identifies its role as reinforcing the existing research pipeline and filling in some of the gaps in areas like health services research and the ‘valleys of death’ at the pre-clinical and the post proof-of-concept commercialisation stages.
The Strategy identifies six Strategic Platforms, which in turn provide a framework for the Priorities. The six Platforms are summarised below.
Strategic and International Horizons
This Platform seeks to position Australia as a leader and collaborator in several key areas of international significance. Two Priorities in this Platform are research to combat antimicrobial resistance and participating in international collaborative efforts to address global health challenges.
Data and Infrastructure
This Platform seeks to make better use of existing data and infrastructure. The Priority proposes research initiatives to realise the benefits of healthcare digitalisation
Health Services and Systems
Bolstering health services and systems research is identified by the Strategy as a particular need.
Capacity and Collaboration
Skills development of researchers and healthcare professionals and more collaboration across research disciplines and between sectors is identified as critical.
Trials and Translation
Particular attention has given by the Strategy to the role of clinical trials and these featured heavily in the initial Priorities.
Overcoming barriers to research commercialisation will initially be addressed by the new Priority through supporting access to expertise and infrastructure in partnership with industry that seeks to accelerate rapid pre-clinical work and evaluation.