The Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) is a once in a generation opportunity to significantly reshape the landscape of Australian medical research and innovation.
Australia has world leading health and medical research (HMR) and a world-class health system, but too often they operate in isolation from each other rather than as one system with the aim of a healthier community. The MRFF provides the opportunity to bridge the gap between the two, so that Australian medical research and innovation in partnership with health practitioners delivers the new practices, services and products needed to continue to improve the health, wellbeing and prosperity of Australians.
Funding into the MRFF
Established by legislation in August 2015, the Medical Research Future fund is an investment fund. With an account balance of around $7 billion and further capital injections to be made by the Commonwealth Government over the next few years, the MRFF is scheduled to reach its target of $20 billion in 2020-21. The capital is invested and the earnings are available to fund health and medical research and innovation.
Funding from the MRFF
The first funding of $65.9 million has been announced for 2016/17. More information on the funding announced so far is available here. This amount will grow rapidly over the next few years, from $121 million in 2017/18 to $643 million in 2020/21.
Decisions about what to fund are made by the Minister for Health. The Minister is guided by an expert Advisory board, which is responsible for developing the MRFF’s Strategy and Funding Priorities.
Research Australia has been actively involved in the development of the MRFF from the time it was first proposed. We continue to engage with the Government and the Health Department about the MRFF and are following its progress closely to ensure that its objective of bridging the gap between research and the health system is being met.
The Advisory Board
Funding decisions are made by the Health Minister in accordance with the five-year Strategy and two yearly funding Priorities, which are determined by the MRFF Advisory Board. Consisting of the CEO of the NHMRC and up to seven other appointees, the Board as a whole is required to have expertise in:
- medical research;
- policy relating to health systems;
- management or delivery of health services;
- medical innovation;
- financing and investment;
- philanthropy; and
- consumer issues relating to health.
An outline of the MRFF Act
The MRFF is created by the Medical Research Future Fund Act 2015.
What can be funded
Earnings on the MRFF’s capital are to be used to fund medical innovation and medical research, both of which are defined by section 5 of the Act.
Medical innovation includes:
(a) the application and commercialisation of medical research for the purpose of improving the health and wellbeing of Australians; and
(b) the translation of medical research into new or better ways of improving the health and wellbeing of Australians.
Who can be funded
Section 10 of the Act specifies that grants can be made to:
- States and Territories via the COAG Reform Fund;
- corporate Commonwealth entities (eg. the CSIRO); and
- universities, medical research institutes, and corporations.