Australia’s high-quality and affordable healthcare system is envied around the world. It’s underpinned by a world-class medical research sector, which is nurtured in our universities and hospitals, medical research institutes and life science companies.
Health and life sciences is one of our largest export sectors, and was worth A$5.6 billion in 2021.
A culture of innovation
Australia is a hub for cutting-edge, life-saving medicines and procedures. Medical research pioneers are drawn to our culture of innovation backed by generous funding and incentives. With our history of Nobel Prize-winning research and high-tech solutions, Australia has made a significant contribution to global medical scientific discovery.
When you bring your talent to Australia, you’ll have access to collaborative innovation hubs and research centres, and a world-class clinical trials ecosystem.
Add to this strong intellectual property protection, an ideal testbed market for clinical trials and access to large export markets, and you have an ideal location for the development of new diagnostics, devices and therapies.
Life sciences research in Australia
- ranked 8th globally overall
- ranked top 6 in optometry, ophthalmology, paediatrics and reproductive medicine
A high-energy ecosystem
Our top-ranking universities and academics are global leaders in clinical medicine and pioneers in many areas of health and life sciences research. We’re breaking new ground in specialist fields such as oncology, neurology, regenerative medicine, medical devices, tropical diseases, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and diagnostics.
Australia is home to several comprehensive cancer care centres that are pioneering genome research. We also boast world-leading immunology facilities with the infrastructure and expertise to develop viral vectors and companion diagnostics.
Our medical technology, biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors work in lockstep with industry, entrepreneurs and academics. Collaborating with an Australian university can give you access to some of the world’s best minds and a share of the impressive A$10.6 billion in revenue generated via partnerships with Australian universities each year. The Australian Government is now giving a boost to university–industry partnerships with the A$2.2 billion University Research Commercialisation Package.
Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, is leading new strategies to prevent and minimise the impact of diseases through the delivery of evidence-based products, programs and services. Its expertise includes molecular diagnostic solutions and precision health and medicine research.
It’s also an internationally renowned catalyst for advanced manufacturing, connecting industry to global supply chains. Its work with industry on research into 3D printing has led to world-firsts in printing human body parts. It even invented Wi-Fi, the empowering technology at the heart of the digital health revolution.
CSIRO is in the top 1% of the world’s scientific institutions in 15 of 22 research fields.
Australia ranks 11th for intellectual property rights on the International Property Rights Index 2021
Aged care is a growing industry in Australia, with governments spending A$23.6 billion nationwide in 2020 – 21.
The sector is undergoing major reforms to improve care experience, quality and safety, workforce design, technology and innovation, strategic planning, infrastructure optimisation, and operational alignment.
Australia’s clinical trial capabilities, skilled workforce and specialised infrastructure are second to none. With around 50 clinical trial networks and as many biobanks across the country, 1880 clinical trials were started in 2019, with 95,000 Australians participating.
Digital health opportunities in Australia have expanded dramatically. We’re world leaders in electronic medical records and the Australian healthcare sector is embracing big data and artificial intelligence, mobile health, connected devices and wearables, telehealth and telemedicine, and personalised and precision medicine. This is opening up exciting opportunities to access and create data-driven health services and products.
Medtech, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals
Combine our advanced manufacturing capability with our expertise in medical technology, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals and the result is world-leading medical products – from drugs, biologics and vaccines to innovative devices and diagnostics.
Synthetic biology is the application of engineering principles and genetic technologies to biological engineering. It’s estimated the global synthetic biology-enabled market could grow to A$700 billion by 2040.
Australia’s increasing research base and attractive business environment for international partnerships positions us to play a leading role in servicing the growing Asia-Pacific market for synthetic biology-enabled products, which is expected to reach A$3.1 billion by 2024.
Grants, incentives and support
- Australia's A$20 billion Medical Research Future Fund aims to transform health and medical research and innovation to improve lives, build the economy and contribute to health system sustainability. Granting activities from the Medical Research Future Fund include:
- the A$450 million Medical Research Commercialisation initiative supports innovative early-stage health and medical research in Australia. It will also help researchers to transform their ideas into life-saving medicines, devices and treatments to help future patients
- the A$47 million MRFF Targeted Translation Research Accelerator, which is improving the prevention and treatment of diabetes and cardiovascular disease
- The Clinical Trials Activity initiative will provide $750 million over 10 years from 2022–23 to help Australian researchers and patients test new treatments through national and international clinical trials.
- MTPConnect, part of the Australian Government’s Industry Growth Centres Initiative, champions the growth of Australia’s medtech, biotech and pharmaceutical (MTP) sectors. MTPConnect raises awareness, fosters collaboration and competition, and aggregates and shares existing knowledge with the broader MTP sectors. It also delivers several strategic funding initiatives on behalf of the Medical Research Future Fund.
- The National Health and Medical Research Council supports investigator‑led research activities across all areas of health and medicine, providing grants in excess of A$850 million per annum.
- The Australian Research Council funds fundamental and applied research across a broad range of fields that contribute to advancements in health and medical science, (e.g., AI, engineering, and the development of biomaterials), and brokers partnerships between researchers and industry, government, community organisations and the international community.
- The Biomedical Translation Fund is A$501 million co-investment program helping translate biomedical discoveries into products and services.
- The Research and Development Tax Incentive encourages businesses to invest more in R&D through tax offsets.
- The Australian Tax Office’s New Investment Engagement Service gives tailored guidance on tax issues to businesses planning significant new investments in Australia.
- Business.gov.au provides information, grants, services and support from across government to help businesses succeed.
The MTPConnect podcast series connects with the people, projects and issues behind Australia’s growing medical technologies, biotechnologies and pharmaceuticals sector. Since its launch in February 2019, the podcast has featured a range of guests including notable scientists, physicians, entrepreneurs and business leaders.