2022-2023 Federal Budget – what’s in it for medical research?

2022-2023 Federal Budget – what’s in it for medical research?

29th March, 2022

The following is a summary of the main announcements in the 2022-23 Federal Budget.

If there is a specific item that has not been covered below but you would like further information then please contact AAMRI’s Executive Director, Dr Peter Thomas (peter.thomas@aamri.org.au).

Please feel free to share this document with interested colleagues.

This summary has been put together on Budget night but will be updated in the coming days with any other Budget announcements that are subsequently uncovered.

1 Summary

The big news for the medical research sector was the release of the Government’s second Ten-Year Investment Plans for the MRFF (the first being released at the Budget three years ago). The updated plan outlines where the Government will invest the bulk of the MRFF over the next decade. Further details can be found in section two.

The overall MRFF balance is forecast to reach $23.1 billion by 2024-25, significantly higher than previous forecasts. This is being made possible by the MRFF taking on a more aggressive investment strategy (subject to passage of legislation in Parliament this week). It is hoped that this will allow the Government to increase funds available for medical research at future Budgets.

Sadly, there is no notable increase in funding for the NHMRC, with indexation arrangements forecast to be slightly higher than outlined last year. Investment through the ARC is set to increase, with new funding allocated to help enhance university-industry collaborations. By 2024-25 it is forecast that there will be $104 million of additional investment through the ARC each year compared to forecasts in the previous Budget.

In this election year Budget, there were a number of special initiatives of interest to the medical research sector which have been announced. The most notable of these is the $375 million allocated to a new WA Comprehensive Cancer Centre, $28 million to establish Genomics Australia, an in addition to these there are multiple smaller initiatives, details of which can be found in section four.

Support for research through the university block grants will be slightly higher than outlined in the previous Budget. This is largely because of a slightly higher indexation being applied.

There was no announcement at the Budget with respect to future NCRIS investments relating to the soon-to-be released NCRIS Roadmap. Funding through NCRIS remains in line with previous forecasts.

2 Medical Research Future Fund

2.1 MRFF total planned expenditure on medical research

There are no changes to forecast expenditure on medical research through the MRFF. The Budget is providing $650 million for new medical research projects each year from 2022-23 forwards.

Changes in legislation currently before the Parliament mean that in future years there is the potential for additional funding to be made available through the MRFF.

Within the Budget the Government announced its second MRFF Ten Year Investment Plan. This plan carries forward all of the funding allocated for the years from 2022-23 to 2027-28 in the first MRFF 10 Year Investment Plan (2018-19 to 2027-28), as well as committing an additional expenditure of $3.1 billion. Note the Department of Health publications state $3.1 billion and Treasury Budget Paper 2 states $1.3 billion, clarification is being sought.

These changes will mean that investment through the second MRFF Ten Year Investment Plan will total $6.3 billion from 2022-23 to 2031-31. The funding will be allocated as follows:

  • $2.3 billion over 10 years from 2022-23, representing a further $604.8 million, for medical translation to support medical discoveries become part of medical practice.
  • $1.5 billion over 10 years from 2022-23, representing a further $114.9 million, for medical research to help researchers tackle significant challenges through investment, leadership and collaboration.
  • $1.4 billion over 10 years from 2022-23, representing a further $117.4 million, to support patients by funding innovative treatments, supporting clinical trials, and delivering more advanced health care and medical technology.
  • $1.3 billion over 10 years from 2022-23, representing a further $495.4 million, for medical researchers to make breakthrough discoveries, develop their skills and progress their careers in Australia.
  • Further details on funding allocations in the second Ten-Year Plan can be found in section 2.3 below.

Of note within the latter package, it is expected that $384.2 million will be provided to support Australia’s upcoming early to mid-career researchers.

2.2 MRFF – balance of fund

The balance of the MRFF is $1 billion higher than forecast at the previous budget. Subject to legislation before parliament being passed, the MRFF will take on a more aggressive investment strategy which should result in enhanced returns. This appears to be reflected in the increased MRFF balance forecast over the next four years, with the balance of the fund reaching $23.5 billion by 2025-26. This could mean that the Government has room to make additional funding available for medical research.

 

2.3 The Second MRFF Ten Year Investment Plan

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3 Research Council Funding

3.1 National Health and Medical Research Council

Disappointingly there is no new additional funding provided to the NHMRC over the forward estimates with only small indexation rises provided. The indexation amounts are a little higher than forecast in the previous Budget.

3.2 Australian Research Council

3.2.1 Overall level of ARC research funding

Funding for the ARC is set to increase more quickly than forecast in the previous Budget. This appears to be because of slightly higher indexation forecasts and increased investment in the ARC Linkage Scheme (see section 4, investing in university research commercialisation for further details). By 2024-25, there will be an additional $104 million provided to the ARC each year.

3.2.2 ARC Discovery program

Investment through the ARC Discovery Program is set to be around $53 million per year higher by 2024-25 than forecast in the previous Budget. Investment in 2022-23 will be around $16 million higher than forecast last year.

3.2.3 ARC Linkage program

Investment through the ARC Linkage Program will be around $35 million per year higher by 2024-25 than forecast in the previous Budget. Some of this additional investment is being made to enhance university-industry collaboration in priority manufacturing areas, and to provide new university-industry career pathways (see section four for further details).

4 Notable new expenditure, savings, and revenue measures

4.1 WA Comprehensive Cancer Centre

The Government will provide $375.6 million over 4 years from 2022-23 to contribute to the establishment of the Western Australian Comprehensive Cancer Centre in Perth. The Centre will provide multi-disciplinary cancer care, research and clinical trials in a purpose-built facility for all types of cancers.

4.2 Medical Research Future Fund initiatives

The Government will continue to invest in new medical research by committing a further $1.3 billion under the MRFF Ten Year Investment Plan. The updated $6.3 billion MRFF Ten Year Plan will provide research funding across the following themes:

  • $2.3 billion over 10 years from 2022-23, representing a further $604.8 million, for medical translation to support medical discoveries become part of medical practice.
  • $1.5 billion over 10 years from 2022-23, representing a further $114.9 million, for medical research to help researchers tackle significant challenges through investment, leadership and collaboration.
  • $1.4 billion over 10 years from 2022-23, representing a further $117.4 million, to support patients by funding innovative treatments, supporting clinical trials, and delivering more advanced health care and medical technology.
  • $1.3 billion over 10 years from 2022-23, representing a further $495.4 million, for medical researchers to make breakthrough discoveries, develop their skills and progress their careers in Australia.

4.3 Biomedical Translation Fund

The Government will extend the Biomedical Translation Fund’s initial investments period by a further 3 years to support the commercialisation of biomedical discoveries.

4.4 Genomics Australia

The Government will provide $28.1 million over 4 years from 2022-23 to establish Genomics Australia from 1 January 2024 to drive the translation and integration of genomics into the Australian healthcare system.

4.5 Investing in Australia’s University Research Commercialisation

The Government will provide $988.2 million over 5 years from 2021-22 (and around $325.1 million per year ongoing) to deliver a package to drive university-industry collaboration, workforce mobility and research translation and commercialisation.

$502.2 million over 5 years (and around $182.3 million per year ongoing) to establish Australia’s Economic Accelerator grants to support university research projects from proof-of-concept and proof-of-scale through to commercialisation. Funded projects will align with the National Manufacturing Priorities.

$295.2 million over 5 years from 2021-22 (and around $142.8 million per year ongoing) to establish new research training pathways for students and researchers, creating new opportunities to work with industry through new Industry PhDs and Fellowships, and deliver reforms to the ARC’s Linkage Program from 2026-27.

4.6 Patent Box – tax concession for Australian medical and biotechnology innovations: updated policy specifications

The Government will now allow patents granted or issued after 11 May 2021 to be eligible for the regime. This will incentivise further R&D to be undertaken in Australia on medical and biotechnology patents, much of which occurs after the patent application.

The Government will also now allow standard patents granted by IP Australia, utility patents issued by the USPTO and European patents granted under the EPC to be eligible.

The expanded measure is expected to decrease receipts by $120.0 million over 2023-24 and 2024-25.

4.7 Global Business, Talent and Investment Attraction Taskforce – extension

The Government will provide $19.5 million over 2 years from 2022-23 to continue the Global Business, Talent and Investment Taskforce, as the renamed Global Australia Taskforce, to attract talented individuals and international investment to Australia.

4.8 Australian Cancer Research Foundation Cancer Genome Facility

The Government will provide $15.0 million over 4 years from 2021-22 to the Australian Cancer Research Foundation Cancer Genome Facility to establish a cancer genomics laboratory, operating in partnership with SA Pathology.

4.9 Pancreatic Centre at Epworth

The Government will provide $5.0 million 2022-23 to the Pancreatic Centre at Epworth to diagnose and treat pancreatic cancer, undertake research and develop education materials.

4.10 mRNA Vaccine Manufacturing

The Government has executed an agreement with Moderna to establish an mRNA vaccine manufacturing capability in collaboration with the Victorian Government.

4.11 National Allergy Centre of Excellence

The Government will provide $26.9 million over 4 years from 2022-23 to establish a National Allergy Council, a National Allergy Centre of Excellence and a national register for anaphylaxis.

4.12 Motor Neurone Disease clinical trials

The Government will provide $4.0 million over 2 years from 2022-23 to the FightMND Foundation for the delivery of early-phase clinical trials to develop new treatments for Motor Neurone Disease in Australia.

4.13 Priority men’s health research

The Government will provide $1.0 million over 2 years from 2022-23 to conduct research to address priority men’s health issues in line with the objectives of the National Men’s Health Strategy.

4.14 Non-medical prescribing

The Government will provide $0.6 million over 2 years from 2022-23 for a feasibility study of non-medical prescribing in Australia.

4.15 Safeguarding children from unhealthy food and drink advertising

The Government will provide $0.5 over 2 years from 2022-23 to undertake a feasibility study on safeguarding children from unhealthy food and drink advertising.

4.16 Suicide prevention research

The Government will provide $3.9 million over 3 years from 2022-23 for innovative, evidence based mental health and suicide prevention research activities.

In a separate line item in the budget, the Government will also provide $4.0 million over 2 years from 2022-23 for suicide prevention research.

4.17 Identification of evidence-based models to address eating disorders

The Government will also provide $24.3 million over 4 years from 2022-23 to implement a pilot program to identify innovative and evidence-based models of care to best address the needs of people with eating disorders and to continue funding current eating disorder services for 2022-23.

4.18 Organ matching and clinical quality registries

The Government will provide $5.3 million in 2022-23 to support the operations of the Australian Breast Device Registry, National Cardiac Registry, Australasian Pelvic Floor Procedure Registry, Australian and New Zealand Hip Fracture Registry, Australasian Shunt Registry, Australian Diabetes Clinical Quality Registry and the Australian New Zealand Trauma Registry.

4.19 Women in STEM

The Government will provide $4.7 million over 4 years from 2022-23 to continue support for the Women in STEM Ambassador initiative and the Future You national digital awareness-raising initiative.

The Government will also provide $2.0 million over 4 years from 2021-22 to extend the Superstars of STEM program to continue raising the profile of Australian women in STEM and inspire the next generation.

4.20 Endometriosis research

The Government will provide

  • $5.1 million over 4 years from 2022-23 to provide funding to the National Endometriosis Clinical and Scientific Trials (NECST) Network to continue to build research capacity and for the ongoing management and data support of the NECST Registry.
  • $2.5 million over 2 years from 2022-23 to support ongoing research, promotion and dissemination of the Australian Clinical Practice Guideline for the Diagnosis and Management of Endometriosis.
  • $1.4 million over 3 years from 2022-23 to implement EndoZone, a digital platform for consumers to access evidence-based information on endometriosis.

4.21 Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health

The Government will provide $1.6 million over 3 years from 2022-23 to extend the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health – Mother’s and their Children’s Health survey.

5 Forecast expenditure/savings in other ongoing programs relating to medical research

5.1 University research block grants

5.1.1 Research Support Program

Support through the Research Support Program for universities is expected to be slightly higher than anticipated in the previous Budget with indexation being provided at a higher rate.

5.1.2 Research Training Program

Support through the Research Training Program (which fund Higher Research Degrees) is expected to be slightly higher than anticipated in the previous Budget with indexation being provided at a higher rate.

5.2 National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy

Funding for NCRIS continues in line with the forward estimates set out last year. Of note there is a significant increase in funding set for 2024-25 when funding will increase by an additional $100 million.
It is not yet known how the soon-to-be released NCRIS roadmap will impact on future investments made by NCRIS.

5.3 CRC Program

There are no significant funding changes to the CRC Program this year.

5.4 ANSTO

Budgeted expenses through ANSTO are set to be lower than previously forecast. It is believed this is largely due to changes depreciation values of assets.