Why Australia needs a brain initiative

New multi-billion dollar brain science initiatives are underway in the US, Japan, Europe and China. With our rich and proud history in brain science, Australia has the opportunity to be a major player in this international effort. By retaining our best scientists, attracting international science super-stars, and linking researchers with new global high-tech industries, we can ensure that Australians enjoy the social, health and economic benefits that will flow from a better understanding of the brain.

A significant investment in an Australian Brain Initiative will:

  • Establish an advanced neurotechnology sector. The potential for Australia in the emerging global industry sector is huge. By connecting brain scientists with innovators and investors, Australia has the opportunity to seed the Cochlears of the future and ensure the next generation of neuroentrepreneurs build their high-tech global companies in Australia.
  • Develop treatments for debilitating brain disorders. One-third of the burden of disease in Australia is caused by brain and mental health disorders, costing the Australian economy at least $45.5 billion a year1. Cracking the brain’s code is the step-change needed to understand normal brain function and develop new approaches to treat the causes of brain and mental health disorders, such as stroke, traumatic brain injury, intellectual and learning disabilities, Alzheimer’s disease and severe anxiety and depression.
  • Harness the plasticity of the brain to improve teaching and learning outcomes. In the longer term, brain science and technology will transform the way we teach and learn, to improve productivity in the workforce and throughout the lifespan.

What’s required  

A five-year $500 million Australian Brain Initiative will bring together leading Australian and international researchers and innovators to crack the brain’s code.

  • 10 Genius Awards of $2 million per annum will retain our top brain scientists and bring the absolute best scientists to Australia to spearhead this flagship science initiative.
  • Priority-driven research funding of $50 million per annum to support targeted research aligned with Australia’s health and advanced manufacturing science and research priorities. This funding will drive real progress and breakthroughs in our understanding of the brain and behaviour.
  • Industry linkage and innovation of $20 million per annum to seed innovative start-ups and generate transformative collaboration between brain researchers and high-tech industries.
  • International engagement of $7 million per annum to secure Australia’s seat at the table and capacity to leverage funding through the major international brain initiatives underway.
  • Management and outreach of $3 million per annum to set research priorities, interface with the Biomedical Translation Fund and the Medical Research Future Fund, coordinate research effort and international engagement, and provide public outreach and policy advice.
Australian Brain Initiative funding and investment proposals
Initiative Investment over five years
10 Genius Awards $100 million
Priority-driven research funding $250 million
Industry linkage funding $100 million with significant co-investment from industry
International engagement $35 million
Management and outreach $15 million
Total $500 million

1 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) ‘The burden of disease and injury in Australia’; cost estimates sourced from AIHW, National Stroke Foundation, Australian Institute of Criminology, Medibank Private & Nous Group.

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