The Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) has received a $35 million boost. Over 85 per cent of this grant will be devoted towards funding research and development for new medical technology over the next four years according to Health Australia.
This is welcome news for innovators nationwide, but how will this increased funding from the MRFF for medical technology development improve Australian healthcare?
Addressing the skills gap in the Med Tech sector through grants from the MRFF could add a further $1 billion in value to the industry.
What is the MRFF and the five year strategy?
The MRFF was announced as part of the 2014-2015 Budget to provide government funding for vital medical research and technology development over a medium-term period, coming to effect from last year. Health Australia indicates that as much as $1.4 billion will be distributed through MRFF grants over the program's first five years.
The five year strategy refers to the approximate period of time the program will run for, through to 2021. After this time, the positive effects on the medical sector will be reviewed to see what else needs to be done. Right now though, the extra funding for medical technology will go a long way towards addressing deficiencies in the industry.
Australia's medical technology sector
The Med Tech sector in Australia has a combined annual turnover of $10 billion according to Deloitte and employs nearly 20,000 people nationwide. The sector has contributed to some tremendous advances for national healthcare capabilities – yet the industry's potential remains mostly untapped. A Deloitte survey of the sector found:
- A 3 per cent skills gap exists in current employment.
- More than eight in ten businesses believe this skills gap has adversely impacted their business in recent years.
- Addressing this issue could add a further $1 billion to the Med Tech sector's current worth.
The grants offered by the MRFF would go a long way to stimulating growth in the sector, for researchers and technology providers alike.
How the MRFF could boost the Med Tech sector
The CSIRO identifies three key areas that stand to benefit from further funding for medical technology: implants and bionics, advanced pharmaceutical development, and diagnostic and informatics products. By addressing these three areas, businesses in Med Tech development can:
- Fund more research and development programs;
- Become better integrated with Health Australia's operations; and
- Employ more researchers and innovators to further this growth past 2021.
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