NHMRC’s Health Innovation Advisory Committee has been appointed to provide advice on current and emerging issues related to the development, commercialisation and uptake of innovative technologies and practices arising from health and medical research. 

The Health Innovation Advisory Committee (HIAC) has identified commercial literacy of the health and medical research community as a key area for action. HIAC is also reviewing the fundamentals of the Development Grants scheme, including its objectives, application content and the peer review process, in order to best target funding to support innovation and commercialisation.

NHMRC recognises the importance of developing strong commercial literacy in the health and medical research community. A high level of commercial literacy will help the sector to plan and undertake research that is commercially significant, innovative and likely to succeed. Research that aligns with these principles has a greater chance of attracting follow-on funding and having a positive impact on human health and well-being.

Building commercial literacy to promote and encourage collaboration between academia and industry is one of the key strategic approaches that will enable NHMRC to contribute to the broader Australian Government agenda of keeping Australia innovative and competitive.

Responding to the Government’s Innovation Agenda

In May 2015, the Australian Government announced the Boosting Commercial Returns from Research action agenda. NHMRC has since been working to improve the extent of collaboration between health and medical research and industry in Australia.  In particular, NHMRC has been considering ways to ensure that assessment of competitive grant applications appropriately recognises industry-relevant expertise in research.  

In December 2015, the Australian Government announced the National Innovation and Science Agenda. One aim of this agenda is to encourage Australia’s world-class researchers to conduct research that is done in partnership with industry.  It includes the Biomedical Translation Fund and Medical Technologies and Pharmaceutical Growth Centre (MTPConnect).

NHMRC is participating in the Innovation Agenda by:c

  • allowing greater flexibility for grant holders to spend time working with, or in, industry
  • emphasising the value of industry, commercial and/or health system experience in the assessment of researcher achievements through its policy documentation and eligibility and assessment criteria
  • using The Guide to Evaluating Industry Experience to help NHMRC’s peer reviewers appropriately recognise applicants’ industry-relevant experiences and results
  • implementing Watt Review Recommendation 16, which requires institutions to:
    •  list the IP generated by public funding on Source IP from 2017
    •  offer, and utilise if requested, the IP Toolkit model contract and term sheet where collaborative research arrangements with business are involved
  • improving communication with industry and other relevant stakeholders
  • improving the way industry experts provide advice in peer review
  • reviewing the Development Grants scheme to ensure it is meeting the needs of the sector.

Available NHMRC funding with a commercial or industry focus

The Development Grants scheme provides financial support to individual researchers and/or research teams to undertake health and medical research within Australia at the proof-of-concept stage that specifically drives towards a commercial outcome within a foreseeable timeframe.

Industry Career Development Fellowships are intended to support researchers with a track record of research excellence and commercial interest so they can spend between one and two years of their award research time in an industry placement. This industry placement aims to enhance and develop skills and knowledge in the translation, product development, marketability or commercialisation of research findings.

This scheme provides funding and support to create new opportunities for researchers and policy makers to work together to define research questions, undertake research, interpret the findings and implement the findings into policy and practice.

Other Government resources/information

Innovation and Science Australia is an independent body responsible for researching, planning and advising the Government on all science, research and innovation matters.

The Biomedical Translation Fund provides $250 million of Commonwealth venture capital funding, matched by more than $250 million of private sector funding, to invest in promising biomedical innovations with commercialisation potential. 

  • MTPConnect (Medical Technology and Pharmaceutical Growth Centre)

MTPConnect is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to accelerate the rate of growth of the medical technologies, biotechnologies and pharmaceuticals sector to achieve greater commercialisation and establish Australia as an Asia-Pacific hub for MTP companies.

The Medical Research Future Fund provides grants to support health and medical research and innovation, with the objective of improving the health and well-being of Australians.