Industry and research organisations representing Australian health innovators have joined together to reiterate the sector’s considerable support for the National Reconstruction Fund (NRF) - calling on all parties to support the NRF Corporation Bill 2022 through the Senate.
The statement co-signed by Research Australia, AusBiotech, MTAA, Medicines Australia, BioMelbourne Network and Genetic Technologies Australia seeks to ensure that Australia’s future is one of well paid jobs manufacturing products that result in strong economic returns, as well as one where we are self-sufficient in vital health and medical products.
The statement, sent to parliamentarians, says Australia must do better to commercialise research to secure its economic future and supporting the passage of the legislation through the Senate is the next step in securing the NRF.
There are a number of areas of health commercialisation, including pharmaceuticals, medical technology, digital health and biotechnologies, that are sensible areas for Australia to seek to expand its capability.
Last year, while Australia spent $8.38 billion on medical research, medical device commercialisation funding was relatively small, receiving an annual average of $62 million.
Medical research funding is not being matched by the necessary institutional venture capital required to commercialise critical goods such as medical devices - impacting on Australia’s ability to sustain domestic medical device manufacturing. This is where the NRF represents an avenue to stimulate co-investment initiatives in health technology commercialisation.
In the case of pharmaceuticals, for example, in 2019, Australia exported US$3.2 billion of pharmaceutical products or 0.55 per cent of global exports.3 In the same year (2019), Australia imported pharmaceutical products valued at US$7.38 billion or 1.27 per cent of global pharmaceutical imports. It is an area where the security of supply is paramount; it is also an area where we have existing expertise in manufacturing and world-leading expertise in life sciences that we can leverage. It is a growing market and one where capability is relatively well dispersed around the developed world.
The NRF can help Australia achieve the ambition to be a net exporter of not only pharmaceuticals but also play a much larger role in the clinical trials and advanced manufacturing space.
Investing in medical manufacturing is crucial to addressing supply chain vulnerabilities and building sovereign capability in medical devices, medicines and vaccines.