Further information on the Medical Research Future Fund

Page last updated: 09 May 2017

The Australian Government is looking to support the sustainability of the health system and drive medical innovation through transforming how health and medical research is conducted in Australia.

As part of the 2014-15 Budget, the Australian Government announced the establishment of the $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) to provide a sustainable source of funding for vital medical research over the medium to longer term. Through the MRFF, the Government will deliver a major additional injection of funds into the health and medical research sector.

The MRFF offers the opportunity to strategically fund research and address national priorities in a cohesive and coordinated way. It complements existing medical research and innovation funding to improve health outcomes by distributing new funding in more diverse ways to support stronger partnerships between researchers, healthcare professionals, governments and the community. MRFF funding will complement the work of the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Commonwealth Science Council and the Australian Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda, including the Biomedical Translation Fund.

All Australians stand to benefit from ongoing investments in health and medical research through the MRFF, either directly through improved health, or indirectly by supporting improved productivity and economic growth.

Contributions to the MRFF endowment have been sourced from savings within the Health portfolio that will accumulate until the capital target of $20 billion is reached. Disbursements over the first five years of the MRFF are projected to be $1.4 billion, and when the fund matures it is anticipated that annual disbursements of up to $1 billion per annum.

The MRFF is managed by the Future Fund Board of Guardians. The Treasurer and Minister for Finance set the investment mandate for the MRFF that provides broad direction to the Future Fund Board of Guardians in relation to its investment strategy. Net earnings on MRFF capital for a given financial year will be available for drawdown the following financial year, with the capital of the MRFF preserved in perpetuity.

The Medical Research Future Fund Act 2015 sets out the rules for the development of the Australian Medical Research and Innovation Strategy and Australian Medical Research and Innovation Priorities by the Australian Medical Research Advisory Board (Advisory Board).

Administrative arrangements for disbursements may vary by MRFF program. In accordance with the Medical Research Future Fund Act 2015, funding could be disbursed via an open or select approach to market, by an independent expert selection process, by direct funding to any eligible organisation or via procurement. Alternatively, funds may flow through a corporate Commonwealth entity (like the NHMRC), or under an agreement with states and territories.

Wherever possible the Government will seek to use approaches to market, assessment procedures and administrative arrangements that are in the large part familiar to those working in health and medical research sector.

The Government is required to take the Strategy and Priorities into account when making decisions about program level funding decisions from the MRFF.