A report from the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes (AAMRI) has highlighted the immense value of the nation’s medical research, finding that for every dollar spent on medical research, Australia enjoys a $3.90 return on investment.
Importantly, the report also predicts that investment through the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) will see this return continue to grow.
President of Science & Technology Australia (STA), Professor Emma Johnston AO, said that the value of life-saving medicines, improved preventative treatments, and new vaccines for harmful diseases had made a profound impact on quality and length of our lives.
“The report found that Australia’s economy was $2.6 billion stronger in 2016-17 thanks to investments made in medical research from the 1990s,” Professor Johnston said.
“Between 1990 and 2004, medical research led to total gains of $78 billion for the Australian economy – $52 billion from health gains, and $26 billion from the profits of commercialising Australian medical research.”
Professor Johnston said that this same investment in broader scientific research would see results that were just as strong.
“Science has a profound impact on all aspects of our lives, and investment in areas like the environmental sciences, mathematics and modelling, data and computing, biology and conservation, engineering and technology – it will all pay big dividends in the short, medium and long term,” she said.
“The result might be unexpected, like better agricultural practices, more effective land management, improved educational outcomes, enhanced weather prediction, more meaningful urban planning, or so much more.”
The medical research sector is currently supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council (which focuses on funding the creation of knowledge) and the MRFF (focus on funding the translation of knowledge).
Professor Johnston said she hoped to see a similar structure explored for other scientific research funding, calling for the establishment of a Research Future Fund to facilitate translational research based on the curiosity-driven research funded by the Australian Research Council.
“Having a specific allocation of money for basic research and a separate allocation of money for commercial endeavours will make the system fairer and much more effective,” she said.
This report supports previous reviews that showed the NHMRC gets $3.20 returned for every $1 invested; European science achieves a 250% return on investment; and in the USA every dollar spent on science and technology returns $2.21 on average.
“Australians understand the value of this science too, with 94% of those we surveyed stating that the believed science and technology to be important to their health and wellbeing.”
To read the full report, head to the AAMRI website.