Industry groups welcome Senate backing of National Reconstruction Fund

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The Albanese government has secured parliamentary approval of its $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund.

The financing vehicle will provide loans, guarantees and equity to support projects that aim to build sovereign capability, including in medical science.

“The Government’s $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund (NRF) is one of the largest peacetime investments in Australian manufacturing capability,” said industry and science minister, Ed Husic.

“The most successful modern economies are built on strong, advanced manufacturing capability. The NRF will help deliver this for Australia.”

Finance minister Senator Katy Gallagher added, “After a decade of uncertainty, the National Reconstruction Fund will support Australian innovation and industry. More things being made here means more jobs for Australians.”

The NRF will be administered by an independent board.

AusBiotech, Medicines Australia and the Medical Technology Association of Australia welcomed Senate backing of the enabling legislation. 

They recently joined a group of other industry bodies in co-signing a joint statement calling on the Senate to back the enabling legislation.

AusBiotech CEO Lorraine Chiroiu said, “Biotechnology is recognised as a ‘foundation stone’ that can address some of the world’s toughest challenges, and so investing in Australia’s world-class medical science industry is investing in solutions that will both underpin our economy and improve our quality of life. If technologies cannot be commercialised then they cannot reach the ultimate beneficiaries, the Australian community, and this is why the establishment of the NRF is so important. 

“As the NRF’s investment mandate is developed we look forward to seeing a policy that is designed to include and reflect biotech’s unique characteristics and unique market forces, as well as biotech-specific expertise represented on the NRF Board. 

“We hope our recent submission provides insights into how this may support biotech to return value to the Australian economy, and I look forward to continuing to work with the Department, and to discussing how to best achieve success for Australia and Australians.” 

Medicines Australia CEO Liz de Somer added, “Medicines Australia and others in the innovative health sector publicly supported the National Reconstruction Fund Corporation Bill 2022and we are pleased to see it successfully pass through the Senate.

“Medical Science is a priority funding area of The National Reconstruction Fund with $1.5 billion dedicated for targeted Government investments in medicines, health, science, and research.

“Leveraging our medical science strengths, the NRF is designed to help the sector move up the value chain to become more productive and address supply chain vulnerabilities. Action to speed up patients' access to treatments and grow our innovative pharmaceutical workforce and contribution to the economy is very welcome. 

“Industry will partner with Government to progress work in this space through such initiatives as the National Reconstruction Fund Medical Science Industry Working Group."

Ian Burgess, CEO of the Medical Technology Association of Australia, said the sector welcomed the invitation to join the government’s Medical Science Industry Working Group. The group will guide the government in developing a vision in the medical science priority area, focusing on industrial capacity and capabilities, commercialisation, digital health, sovereign capability and broader health outcomes.

“It’s terrific that the government have specifically recognised Australia’s world-class medical manufacturing capabilities with this Industry Working Group,” he said.

“Medical device commercialisation funding has been relatively small, receiving an annual average of $62 million. Medical research funding is not being matched by the necessary institutional venture capital required to commercialise critical goods such as medical devices - impacting on Australia’s ability to sustain domestic medical device manufacturing. We aim to ensure the NRF begins to turn this around.”