National Reconstruction Fund takes step forward

The introduction of the $15bn National Reconstruction Fund (NRF) has been welcomed by AusBiotech as a positive step forward, and the investment of the ‘medical science’ funds moving closer to reality.

The legislation enabling the establishment of the Fund is a key initiative of the Australian Government’s A Future Made in Australia policy. It was announced in October’s Federal Budget and is expected to be introduced to Parliament this week.

The fund will co-invest in independently assessed projects across seven priority areas and over seven years, including $1.5 billion in ‘medical science’ as well as $1 billion each for critical technologies and advanced manufacturing.

Industry and Science Minister Ed Husic noted in his National Press Club speech this week that the Fund will be governed by an independent board.

Mr Husic said the Fund will “help drive economic development in our regions and outer suburbs, boosting our sovereign capability, diversify the nation’s economy, and importantly, help create secure jobs”.

AusBiotech CEO Lorraine Chiroiu said: “Australia’s health and medical researchers are world class, and investments such as the National Reconstruction Fund are vital to enabling home-grown biotechnologies to realise their potential and deliver the benefits of research and innovation to all Australians.”

“The Fund is seeking to leverage Australia’s competitive strengths through co-investment vehicles – which is different from grant programmes that we’ve previously seen. We look forward to continuing to engage with Minister Husic and the Department of Industry, Science and Resources to ensure the design of the Fund will support the high-value biotechnology opportunities that are abundant in Australia”.

AusBiotech is dedicated to the development, growth, and prosperity of the Australian life science industry. To this end, the National Reconstruction Fund was one key topic of discussion at AusBiotech’s recent CEO Policy Forum that brought together 27 biotech company CEOs to exchange on key topics in the Biotechnology Blueprint (Blueprint). The day-long meeting highlighted the complexity of biotech policy, as industry and government departments, including Minister Husic, convened in its goal to support Australia’s transformative biotechnologies.

As the national voice of the biotech industry for more than 35 years, AusBiotech will convene a roundtable policy discussion on how the NRF design would best enable the translation of our home-grown biotech ideas and invites AusBiotech members to express their interest in attending.

The industry-focused roundtable will be hosted later this month to recommend how the fund may best deliver value for Australia, as outlined in the Blueprint, as it aspires to build solid companies, create more jobs, commercialise more biotechnologies, build sovereign capabilities, and deliver greater benefits and returns to Australia and all Australians.

Discussion will include consideration of recommendations for the size of a co-investment, the return-on-investment period, and the scope of the investment vehicles, for example whether non-financial return should be considered when building Australia’s sovereign capabilities.

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