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Medical Research Future Fund


While Australia has a long history of medical research discoveries, until recently it has struggled to turn that research into tangible, world-class benefits to society.

What is the Medical Research Future Fund?

The Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) is the Federal Government’s answer to this problem. This is a $20 billion fund that gives Australian researchers and medical sector innovators the scope to look at the big picture and develop solutions to Australia’s priority health issues of cardiovascular disease, cancer, injury prevention, mental illness, diabetes, asthma and dementia.

The MRFF, established under the Medical Research Future Fund Act 2015 (MRFF Act), provides grants of financial assistance to support health and medical research and innovation to improve the health and wellbeing of Australians. It operates as an endowment fund with the capital preserved in perpetuity. The MRFF reached maturity at $20 billion in July 2020. The MRFF provides a long-term sustainable source of funding for endeavours that aim to improve health outcomes, quality of life and health system sustainability.

The guaranteed funding provided by the MRFF gives medical sector researchers the certainty they need to form long-lasting, effective partnerships and invest in the solutions to help future generations
of Australians.

MRFF important details that you will need to know

The MRFF is a major set of research funding initiatives that provides medical sector researchers with funding to translate research discoveries into products and services that meet the biggest clinical demands.

Each year, net interest from the $20 billion investment fund is used to provide a variety of medical research grants. At any one time, there may be 10 or more grant opportunities open across many different areas of research.

For many researchers, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to tackle challenges that usually seem so large as to be over-ambitious or unachievable. But with funding from the MRFF, interstate partnerships between universities, research organisations and corporations allow for a broad base of resources with the power to make great leaps.

MRFF grant funds also help to build a future-proofed medical research industry, one where researchers have the necessary understanding of commercialisation to develop innovative products that meet society’s most pressing medical needs.

These products will not only help Australia’s live more comfortable lives but also to compete on the world stage and keep the economic benefits of research discoveries on Australian shores, where once they may have been lost to other nations with better-established research commercialisation structures.

This fund is part of a medium to long-term plan, based on strategic advice provided by the Australian Medical Research Advisory Board (AMRAB).

The Department of Health states that the MRFF:

  • allows Australians to benefit from life-changing medical discoveries
  • funds research according to national priorities, filling gaps in areas of unmet need that require more research
  • helps our medical researchers and innovators develop their ideas within Australia
  • develops Australia’s growing Genomics and BioMedTech industry sectors, creating future jobs and exports
  • builds stronger relationships between researchers, healthcare professionals, governments and the community
  • invests in all research stages — from research ideas, through laboratory research and clinical trials, to the product commercialisation


The MRFF also played a significant role in the Australian Government’s pandemic response, with more than $77 million in grants awarded to fund critical research projects into COVID-19 during the initial phase of the pandemic.

Since the MRFF’s inception in 2015, more than 30 grant streams have been offered, covering a broad array of activities from clinical trials of new solutions and medications to long-awaited research into rare diseases such as childhood cancers, and others.

A broad variety of research initiatives will fall under the MRFF over the course of its lifespan, from mental illness in young and indigenous people, to rare cancer treatments, stem cell therapy, genomics, and many more areas of medical research.

Some of the areas of medical research funded to date include:

  • Brain cancer
  • Cardiovascular health
  • Improving access to clinical trials
  • Clinician researcher fellowships
  • Dementia, ageing, and aged care
  • Consumer-driven research
  • Medical frontier breakthroughs
  • Genomics
  • Global health threats
  • Indigenous health
  • Medical research commercialisation
  • Mental health
  • Critical research infrastructure
  • Preventive and public health
  • Primary health care research
  • Rapid applied research translation
  • Research data infrastructure
  • Researcher exchange and development
  • Stem cell therapy
  • Traumatic brain injury


There are four key research themes:

  • Patients


The MRFF benefits patients and the general public by funding innovative treatments and supporting clinical trials. It will deliver more advanced health care and medical technology that will improve the health of Australians.

  • Researchers


The MRFF supports Australian health and medical sector researchers to make breakthrough discoveries, develop their skills and progress their careers in Australia.

  • Research missions


Missions allow researchers to think big. They are ambitious programs of work that are only possible through major funding, leadership and collaboration. The MRFF is funding 8 research missions across a range of topics.

  • Research translation


Research findings translate into better health for Australians. It takes focused effort to turn research findings into better clinical care and health outcomes for Australians. The MRFF’s translation initiatives make new medical discoveries part of the daily clinical practice of GPs, other specialists and hospitals.

The MRFF is also about providing the conditions for a healthy population via research into disease prevention via modern techniques like genomics, and a productive population through the creation of job opportunities and commercialisation of innovative globalised products.

Funding Strategy

The MRFF Strategy and Priorities guide the decisions on which research projects to fund.

The MRFF 10-year Investment Plan drives funding allocation priorities and outlines the Australian Government’s plans for the use of MRFF funding from 2022-23 to 2031-32

The Government then designs and advertises funding opportunities on GrantConnect and research institutions and eligible entities apply.

Successful applicants receive funds and carry out their project work, providing regular reporting against milestones.

Funding Allocation

The MRFF funds are allocated to the following types of grants:

  • Competitive
  • Competitive pre-qualified
  • Clinical Leadership
  • National Expansion / co‑contribution
  • Patient led


Each of which is described in the following table.


Category Description
Competitive Funding allocated through an openly advertised MRFF opportunity and through which applicants are independently assessed against published assessment criteria.
Competitive pre‑qualified Funding allocated to a specific organisation following their selection in an open competitive application process outside the MRFF.  Examples include Advanced Health Research and Translation Centres (assessed by NHMRC), ARC Special Research Initiative, or Industry Growth Centre (assessed by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science).
Targeted Funding is awarded to a specific applicant following assessment of their application against predefined criteria.
Clinical leadership Funding allocated to an organisation that is nationally recognised for its role in clinical leadership and/or quality standards, including through health and medical research, in Australia.
National Expansion / co‑contribution Funding allocated to a project operating at a local or state level, where expansion would provide equity of access or that leverages non-MRFF funds to expand the research activity.
Patient led Funding allocated to an organisation driving a patient-led agenda for health and medical research and health service delivery (e.g., through a foundation).

Up to 2021, the Australian Government contributed savings from the health budget to reach the MRFF’s goal figure of a $20 billion pool of funding.

This money is invested with a target return on investment of 1.5–2 percent above the cash rate.

The fund generates interest and this is what underpins various grant funding programs out of the fund for research and medical innovation purposes each year.

Research funding projections for 2021–23 are as follows:

  • 2021–22: $646 million
  • 2022–23: $650 million


MRFF Grant Recipients

The Department of Health and Aged Care has a regularly updated page where you can see a full list of MRFF grants past and present. See link below in learn more about the MRFF program to access.

MRFF Grants Awarded

The table below highlights the key facts and figures outlining the financial scope of the MRFF and its initiatives as of 21 January 2022.

  • Total projects funded: 722
  • Total funds allocated: $1,948,600,000


The table below includes all MRFF grants awarded and announced since the program’s inception in 2015 and the total value of the grant agreement across all financial years.


Type of grant Grants Value ($m)
Competitive 634 1,446.7
Competitive pre-qualified 34 144.9
Percentage – Competitive 93% 82%
Targeted: Clinical leadership 10 59.3
Targeted: National expansion / co-contribution 17 151.0
Targeted: Patient led 27 146.8
Percentage – Targeted 7% 18%
Total MRFF Grants 722 1,948.6

MRFF resources

The Australian Government’s grants hub – GrantConnect lists current MRFF grants.

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