Medical research investment boosts Australia

16 October, 2018

A new study has found that Australia’s investment in medical research has significantly boosted our country’s welfare, economy and future potential.

Releasing the report at an event in Parliament House this morning, the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes (AAMRI) President Professor Tony Cunningham AO said that for every dollar invested in medical research, we gain a $3.90 return to the economy.

“A near $4-to-$1 is an extraordinary return on investment. This return is far higher than the level needed to secure government funding for just about any other investment in infrastructure,” Professor Cunningham said.

The new study by KPMG Economics has identified that the medical research sector – including the downstream medical technology and pharmaceutical sector – employs more than 110,000 people. It also found that the health gains that flow from medical research result in a larger and more productive national workforce too, preventing injury and illness, or if they do occur getting people back to work faster.

“Investing in medical research must remain a top priority for Australia – not only for the health and wellbeing of all Australians, but also to help build a strong economy through employment, knowledge creation and through our burgeoning medical technology and pharmaceutical export industry,” he said.

From treatments for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), a vaccination to protect against the cervical cancer causing Human Papillomavirus (HPV), through to the development of the cochlear implant allowing thousands of people to hear again, Australian research continues to shape the health and wellbeing of our nation.

The findings from KPMG demonstrated that the national workforce is estimated to be significantly larger than it would have been in the absence of medical research, 23,000 full time employees more, to be more precise.

The report also shows that today’s economy, as measured by GDP, is $2.6 billion larger as a result of historical medical research. Significantly, welfare, a measure of how well off we are as a population, is $1.5 billion higher that it would have been in the absence of medical research.

Professor Cunningham said the in-depth study of the impact of medical research in Australia was a timely reminder that we can only expect the positive health and economic outcomes if we are willing to put in the investment. “I’d like to thank the Australian community and our politicians for making that investment,” he said.

To view the full report, visit