$110m unlocked for WA health research infrastructure

Brandon How

The Western Australian government has unlocked $110 million in grant funding for health and medical research infrastructure through the Future Health Research and Innovation Fund.

On Tuesday, the state government opened two new programs to support health and medical research by the state’s medical research institutes (MRI), universities, and hospitals.

The government will make up to $35 million available this year from the $250 million earmarked for the Future Health Research and Innovation Fund (FHRIF) over the next four years.

The FHRIF is currently worth around $1.8 billion and is funded through mining royalties in addition to any investment income.

Facilities, equipment or services already supported by the federal government’s National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Scheme are not eligible to receive funding.

Health Research minister Stephen Dawson (second from right) and Legislative Assembly Member for Nedlands Katrina Stratton (far right) visit the Marshall Centre. Image: LinkedIn

The 2024 edition of the Research Infrastructure Support program will award $25 million across MRI, universities and hospitals, with $10 million of this reserved exclusively for MRIs.

The first $17.5 million is available through a stream targeting ‘indirect costs of research’, which includes “laboratory consumables, computers, support staff and operating costs of laboratories, and research services and equipment,” according to program guidelines.

The remaining $7.5 million out of the Research Infrastructure Support program is targeted at “operational costs of existing facilities, equipment and services used for research”. This includes the costs of running research labs, data collection and the maintenance of datasets, equipment.

Also announced on Tuesday was the FHRIF Enabling Scheme, which has a funding pool of $10 million targeted at upgrades to research facilities or labs as well as major equipment upgrades and purchases.

Co-funding of up to $1.5 million over three years will support “state-of-the-art facilities and equipment” that are available to the broader health and medical research/innovation sectors. It is unclear how much will be available in 2024.

Medical Research minister Stephen Dawson said the new funding would further bolster the state’s “striking track record in global medical research breakthroughs”.

“From the Helicobacter pylori bacterium — which earned Drs Barry Marshall AC and Robin Warren AC a Nobel Prize — to Professor Fiona Wood’s (AO) spray-on skin, and more,” Mr Dawson said.

“With this new funding for research and innovation infrastructure we are setting our State up for greater collaborations and partnerships, and making WA a place of choice for world-leading researchers and innovators.”

Since the FHRIF was founded in 2020, it has awarded more than $100 million to 480 recipients.

In August 2022, the fund was given new areas of focus. These were for Aboriginal, rural, and remote health, burden of diseases, living with Covid-19 and long-Covid, and mental health.

Western Australian Premier Roger Cook said that the medical research sector “presents important opportunities for Western Australia”.

“Backing this dynamic sector will pay dividends for our State in the future – as research breakthroughs are transformed into business opportunities, helping to drive our economy forward,” Premier Cook said.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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