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Maximising the commercial benefits of research


It is reasonable to expect that the returns from research contribute economically to generate Australia’s national wealth, given that Australian Government-funded research, such as through the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), is supported by public taxes. Australia’s national wealth is enhanced through translating research findings into new commercial products, companies or industries. This concept was at the centre of the Wills Review more than 15 years ago, and represents a virtuous cycle of investing in research to create knowledge and translating that knowledge to reap patient and economic benefits that lead to further investment.

NHMRC-funded research has contributed to commercial benefits including the cochlear implant, cervical cancer vaccine and sleep apnoea devices, in addition to other examples such as the research of David Anderson, who has created a simple blood test for HIV patient monitoring in developing countries (with funding from the NHMRC and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation).

At the NHMRC, we do much to foster collaborations between research and industry to boost the commercial returns of research. We have an industry stream as part of our Career Development Fellowships, supporting researchers who conduct research with strong industry links. While any research can result in commercial gains, we also have a specific research funding scheme — the Development Grants Scheme —…