Medical Research Future Fund – Biotech Horizons

Page last updated: 22 December 2017 (this page is generated automatically and reflects updates to other content within the website)

PDF version: Biotech Horizons (PDF 354 KB)


The Australian Government is providing $35 million to move cutting edge biomedical and medical technology discoveries towards proof-of-concept and commercial success. A $30 million investment in medical technology builds on an earlier announcement of $5 million to target early stage research in precision medicine and 3D anatomical printing.

Key elements

A competitive grant program to maximise entrepreneurship and idea potential in biotechnology and medical technology.


] Ground breaking technologies such as precision medicine, 3D anatomical printing, stem cell applications, nanotechnology and advanced wearables have a place in the future of healthcare. Australia needs to have the capacity to harness and tailor new technologies to maximise the impact on clinical care and patient health outcomes. Health and medical research typically encounters a ‘valley of death’ where funding for laboratory research runs out, but the research is not developed enough to attract private investment. The ability to support progress towards proof-of-concept will serve to prime new treatments and health products for venture capital investment and commercial success. Rapid identification and investment in disruptive technologies has the potential to generate high economic returns and accelerate Australia’s competitive advantage as a global research leader. [

Desired outcomes

  • Increased number of biotechnology and medical technology ideas available for private capital investment and commercialisation.
  • Reduced time to market for new treatments, drugs and devices with potential to greatly improve health.
  • Evidence of multi-disciplinary and sectorial collaboration resulting in solutions for real world health challenges.
  • Late stage research success under the Biomedical Translation Fund.
  • Promotion of Australia’s international ranking as a biotechnology and medical technology leader.

Key facts

  • Health and medical research typically occurs across a pipeline of activity, with the end point being translation of bright ideas into new or changed clinical practice and new products.
  • The pipeline is often characterised as having two ‘valleys of death’. Typically these occur at (1) the pre-clinical phase, where a lack of funding inhibits the progression of discoveries to early proof-of-concept, and (2) the post proof-of-concept commercialisation stage; where funds are required for advanced pre-clinical work and early phase clinical trials.
  • Under the National Innovation and Science Agenda, Australia has established the Biomedical Translation Fund (BTF). The BTF is a $500 million public and private for-profit co-investment to progress those ideas in valley two (2) through to commercial reality.
  • BioMedTech Horizons seeks to address valley one (1), and accordingly will serve as a ‘BTF-primer’ breaking down barriers to Australian innovations moving across the research pipeline towards success.
  • Business collaboration on innovation is associated with a 70 per cent increase in the likelihood of new to world innovation and a 32 per cent increase in the likelihood of new to Australia innovation.
  • Australia performs poorly on research-business collaboration compared with other OECD economies. BioMedTech Horizons will serve to help strengthen entrepreneurial awareness by encouraging industry engagement.


  • The first $5 million investment under the new BioMedTech Horizons program is being administered by MTPConnect, Australia’s premier Medical Technology, Biotechnology, and Pharmaceutical Industry Growth Centre.
  • Initial investments from the program will support precision medicine and 3D anatomical printing that have demonstrated strong industry partnerships and the potential for advancement to proof-of-concept.
  • Grants will be awarded following a two stage assessment process, the first of which is an expression of interest that concluded on 10 December 2017. An announcement on invited second stage applicants is expected in late February 2018.
  • $30 million more will be rolled out over the next four years for new medical technologies in consultation with the Medical Technologies Association of Australia, AusBiotech and MTPConnect.

Medical Research Future Fund

The Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) demonstrates the Government’s strong commitment to research and innovation. The MRFF provides a long term sustainable source of funding for endeavours that aim to improve health outcomes, quality of life and health system sustainability.

The MRFF will double direct Australian Government funding for health and medical research.

The MRFF is a dedicated vehicle for priority investment in health and medical research.

The MRFF, established under the Medical Research Future Fund Act 2015, provides grants of financial assistance to support health and medical research and innovation in improving the health and wellbeing of Australians. It operates as an endowment fund with the capital preserved in perpetuity. At maturity, the MRFF will reach $20 billion.

The first disbursements from the MRFF focus on translating research into real health benefits, breakthrough investments in new technologies and challenges, and enhancing Australia’s reputation for research excellence and leadership.
Over $1.5 billion is being injected over the next four years into a range of programs that cut across the research pipeline – fuelling new discoveries and the translation and commercialisation of great Australian ideas.

Advisory Board

The Australian Medical Research Advisory Board, established in accordance with the MRFF Act, is responsible for consulting on and developing a five-yearly Strategy that sets out the vision, aims and objectives for the MRFF and an accompanying two-yearly list of Priorities. The Government must consider the Strategy and Priorities in making MRFF investment decisions.

Strategy 2016-2021

VISION: A health system fully informed by quality health and medical research.

The Australian Medical Research and Innovation Strategy 2016-2021 identifies key strategic investment platforms that set to position Australia to meet future healthcare challenges:

  • Strategic and international horizons
  • Data and infrastructure
  • Health services and systems research
  • Capacity and collaboration
  • Trials and translation
  • Commercialisation
These platforms serve as a framework for the Australian Medical Research and Innovation Priorities 2016-18.

Priorities 2016-2018

In accordance with the MRFF Act 2015, Government must consider Advisory Board identified Priorities in making decisions on MRFF disbursements. Consultations to assist in identifying the next set of MRFF Priorities will commence in 2018.

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