MTPConnect welcomes 2017 Budget: Investment in MTP research translation and commercialisation

MTPConnect – the Industry Growth Centre for medical technology, biotechnology and pharmaceutical (MTP) sector – has welcomed the Australian Government’s 2017 Budget, set to provide positive outcomes for the support and growth of innovation in the Australian MTP sector.

The budget is well positioned to provide major new investments in manufacturing industries and cutting edge research infrastructure, as well as strengthening Medicare and providing support for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), hospitals, increasing mental and preventative health measures, and welcome investment into clinical trials and medical research.

These investments are set to provide a welcome boost to the MTP industry in Australia, assist with advanced manufacturing capacities, and leverage Australia’s unique advantages as an international destination for clinical trials to provide economic benefits not only to the sector but the Australian economy.

The Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) has been positively received by the health and medical research sector, with the budget setting out investments up to $1.4 billion in its first five years. The first disbursements of the MRFF have been announced, with $20 million to boost preventative health research and research translation, $10 million for the Australian Preventative Partnership Centre, $33 million to build research excellence and leadership, $12.9 million for breakthrough research investments, and $5 million for new targeted clinical trial activity for adolescents and young adults with cancer.

An important new five-year strategic agreement between Medicines Australia and the Government will see $1.8 billion of savings delivered from lowering the cost of drugs on the PBS to be invested into future new and amended listings. The relationship will provide stability for the sector, encourage investment in local R&D and clinical trials, with the promise of any new PBS pricing policies to be consulted with the sector before implementation.

MTPConnect CEO Sue MacLeman believes that the budget will provide welcome support for collaboration, research translation and commercialisation needed by the Australian MTP sector to ensure ongoing growth and stability to flourish on the global stage.

“It is heartening to see funding being allocated to the sorts of important initiatives, like the MRFF and advanced manufacturing, that are driving the success of our sector – increased investment in clinical trials, research translation, working towards policy stability, and taking breakthrough innovative research through to proof-of-concept,” Ms MacLeman said.

“We are excited to be involved in an important time of innovation and growth in the sector, with such dedicated Government support for medical technology, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals in Australia.”

“As outlined in the MTPConnect Sector Competitiveness Plan, the MTP sector is in a significant position of having the ability to provide up to 28,000 jobs and cumulative GVA of $18 billion over a 10-year period, as well as produce important innovations to improve and save the lives of not just Australians but individuals across the globe.”

“This budget is evident of the Government’s continued support for the MTP sector in Australia and recognition of its importance – shown through the establishment of the targeted Industry Growth Centre. We look forward to continuing our close work with sector participants and industry bodies, and the Australian Government, to take full advantage of the significant opportunities provided.”

Dr Bronwyn Evans, Chair of MTPConnect, said: “The task of MTPConnect is to seize the opportunities created by our world leading research into medical technology, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, and the 2017 budget provides welcome and necessary measures to ensure our vision of transforming Australia into the Asia-Pacific and international hub that it has the potential to be.”

The Central Coast Medical School and Medical Research Institute NSW has received an additional $12.5 million investment over five years from the Government to assist with operational and transitional costs involved in opening at the redeveloped Gosford Hospital. The facility is being delivered through a combined investment of $72.5m by the Federal and NSW Governments and the University of Newcastle – including a $32.5m commitment from the Australian Government. MTPConnect has been working closely with the Government in the scoping and development of the precinct, providing vital connections with industry.

Positive investment in innovative infrastructure is another boon for the sector, with $68 million set to be invested into development of a proton beam therapy facility – the first in the southern hemisphere – to be opened at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) and bring together clinical researchers and biotech and pharma SMEs to work from the facility.

A further $10.8 million is set to be invested into medical research and clinical trials in childhood cancer, fast-tracking international collaborations and increasing research capacity through Cancer Australia, as well as $5 million from the MRFF provided to CanTeen to improve outcomes for young people fighting cancer.

Other budget wins for the sector include:

  • Public Service Modernisation Fund including enhancements to National Health and Medical Research Council grant assignments and outcome reporting
  • Improvement of telehealth for psychological services in regional, rural and remote Australia, with $9.1 million over four years
  • $1.2 billion for new and amended listings on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, with a commitment to list all medicines that have received positive recommendations from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee
  • $15 million over two years to support mental health research specifically for prevention and early intervention