Future Health Research and Innovation Fund

FHRI Fund logoThe Future Health Research and Innovation (FHRI) Fund provides a secure source of funding to drive health and medical research, innovation and commercialisation and through these activities, improve the health and prosperity of all Western Australians. It also provides an opportunity to diversify the economy, create jobs, improve the sustainability of the health system and position WA as a leader in research and innovation.

The FHRI Fund scheme is backed by the State’s sovereign wealth fund, which at the end of 2019 was worth approximately $1.4 billion. The capital of the fund will be preserved in perpetuity and only the annual investment income will be accessed. The capital balance of the FHRI Fund will continue to build through annual credits of one per cent of the State’s royalty income.

Establishing the FHRI Fund involved three areas of work: developing and implementing legislation; designing an appropriate governance structure; and consulting with stakeholders to inform the Strategy and Priorities for the application of FHRI Fund investment income.

In completing this work, key considerations included:

  • The fund’s investment income will be applied through two streams: one for health and medical research; and one for health and medical innovation and commercialisation. The separation of research from innovation and commercialisation is in recognition that the two do not always occur together and tailored support is required for each.
  • Processes to select funding recipients will be transparent, competitive and use best-practice processes, such as peer-review, to ensure that only the highest-quality proposals are supported.
  • Opportunities to partner with other funders will be pursued to boost funding made available from the FHRI Fund.

The Future Health Research and Innovation (FHRI) Fund was created by re-purposing the WA Future Fund through the Western Australian Future Health Research and Innovation Fund Act 2012 (the Act). The Act, which commenced on 24 June 2020, can be accessed on the Western Australian Legislation website here.

Key features of the legislation include:

  • The object of the Act is to provide a secure source of funding to improve, through research and innovation, the health and prosperity of Western Australians, the sustainability of the health system and to advance the State’s standing as a leader in research and innovation.
  • The capital of the fund, which is administered by the Treasurer, will grow through the annual crediting of one per cent of the State’s royalty income.
  • The investment income earned on the capital will be transferred each year to a Department of Health account, called the FHRI Account, from which funds will be applied to support health and medical research, innovation and commercialisation.
  • The legislation provides that the Minister for Health must establish and maintain the FHRI Fund Advisory Council (see the Governance section for further details).
  • Special provision is made in 2020/21 for research and innovation related to human coronaviruses of pandemic potential.

Further details about the Act are provided on the FHRI Fund legislation page.

The governance model for the Future Health Research and Innovation (FHRI) Fund has several components.

The essential governance requirements are set out in the Act.  Other governance provisions are outlined in the accompanying FHRI Fund Governance Framework, while policies and processes guide the day-to-day operation of FHRI Fund.

The Act provides that an advisory group (the Advisory Council) must be established and maintained by the Minister for Health and sets out the roles and responsibilities of this Advisory Council. The powers of the Minister for Health are also set out in the Act, including that the Minister may make and approve arrangements that contribute to achieving the Object of the Act (as described in the Legislation box above). The Act also provides that the Minister for Health must prepare and maintain a Governance Framework for the FHRI Fund.

The Governance Framework supports the Act by providing details about processes, policies and responsibilities that allow the FHRI Fund to operate responsibly, efficiently and transparently. The Governance Framework defines the relationships between the Minister for Health, the Advisory Council, Expert Committees and the Department of Health and describes the Strategy, Priorities and Programs and Initiatives. The Governance Framework also sets out the requirements for the evaluation of the FHRI Fund. Further details about the governance model are provided on the FHRI Fund governance model page.

The Western Australian Future Health Research and Innovation Fund Act 2012 (the Act) provides that the Governance Framework will include a requirement for the development of a Future Health Research and Innovation (FHRI) Fund Strategy and FHRI Fund Priorities and that these must be tabled in Parliament and published online.

The Governance Framework describes the Strategy, Priorities and Programs and Initiatives as follows:

The Strategy provides a high-level vision and goals for research and innovation in WA and forms the basis from which the Priorities are derived. The Advisory Council for the FHRI Fund leads development of the Strategy and the extensive consultations that inform this process. The Advisory Council recommends the Strategy to the Minister for Health for approval.

A Priority is an approach, need or opportunity that has been determined to be critical to achieving the vision of the Strategy that is in place at the time and that aligns with the purpose of the FHRI Fund, as described in the Object of the Act. The Priorities are prepared by the Advisory Council and subsequently provided to the Minister for Health for approval.

A Program or Initiative is a mechanism through which funding is directed to a specific purpose and that contributes to achieving one or more Priority. Programs and Initiatives are approved by the Minister for Health based on a proposal by the Director General of the Department of Health. However, the Act provides that the Minister for Health must seek a recommendation from the Advisory Council and consider the recommendation subsequently received before making, or applying FHRI Account moneys to, Programs and Initiatives in the financial year.

Last Updated: 01/06/2021