Enduring Strategy 8 – Innovate for sustainability

It is vital to embed research and innovation in the WA health system to create a strong foundation for new perspectives and developments in healthcare that ensure safety, maintain high quality standards, improve the experience of patients and achieve operational efficiencies.

View recommendations 28 to 30

A systemwide network of innovation and a research strategy to improve health care and outcomes

Partner with stakeholders to foster a culture of improvement, experimentation and entrepreneurism, and link future research and innovation priorities with those of the WA health system, put into practice.

Priorities for 2023

  • The WA government, through the Future Health Research and Innovation (FHRI) Fund, is driving investment in health, medical research and innovation to advance health and wellbeing outcomes in WA and enhancing sustainability of the health system. Some examples of programs and initiatives supported by the FHRI Fund in 2022-23 include:
  • The Challenge – reimagining regional and remote health care called for solutions that use technology to enhance remote healthcare in the Pilbara. 93 submissions were received, which will be reviewed by a panel of experts from various fields and Pilbara stakeholders. The top 10 finalists will have a year to test and implement their ideas with the goal of winning the $5 million prize.
  • The Capability Building Program: National Reconstruction Fund (NRF) ­- Medical Manufacturing aims to build the capability of WA researchers and innovators to promote success in applying for funding for Medical Manufacturing from the Commonwealth Government’s National Reconstruction Fund.
  • Clinician Research Fellowships help clinicians employed by WA Health Service Providers undertake research relevant to the public health system, while retaining a clinical role. The program is focused on early and mid-career researchers are s a partnership between the Department of Health and Raine Medical Research Foundation.
  • The Clinician Researcher Training Program supports formal research training by clinicians employed by WA Health Service Providers and public-private partnership providers. The program aims to embed a vibrant research culture in the WA health system, improve attraction and retention of high-quality clinicians, and enhance patient care and health outcomes in WA. Selection of recipients is in progress.
  • The Co-Funding Partnerships Program supports collaboration and funding partnerships to provide new non-government funding or maximise the impact of existing charitable funding for health and medical research, and innovation.
  • DISCOV3R Focus Grants Program recipients will investigate the effectiveness of rapid antigen tests (RATs), determine their suitability as a long-term testing solution for infection by SARS-CoV-2 and its variants, their effective use and responsible disposal.
  • Innovation Challenge: Child and Youth Mental Health called for innovators to deliver a novel solution to child and youth (0–24 years) mental health in WA. Following feasibility projects by 11 funding recipients, a solution will receive up to $1.5 million for its development.
  • The Innovation Challenge: Generative Artificial Intelligence Applications seeks creative solutions that use generative artificial intelligence technology to address significant health and medical challenges. The program aims to build the capabilities of WA’s research, innovation and industry sectors to leverage opportunities. 
  • Innovation Fellowships build the entrepreneurial skills of recipients with innovative ideas and enhance innovation knowledge and culture in WA.
  • Innovation Seed Fund assists WA health and medical innovators to develop and commercialise their inventions, create high-level health sector jobs and enhance WA’s production and manufacturing capacity.
  • The Major Research Application Support Program provides funding for research applications to be submitted to national and international grant funding rounds to boost the chance of success. Successful applicants receive an in-principle cash commitment.
  • WA Near-miss Awards - Ideas Grants, and Emerging Leaders fund early and mid-career researchers who narrowly miss out on a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Ideas or Investigator grants to improve their application and re-apply.
  • Applications are open until 8 August 2023 for the FHRI Fund Distinguished Fellows Program, which aims to attract innovative world-class research leaders to WA to lead substantial high-quality research programs. Fellows receive a funding package of up to $5 million over 5 years, with an equal cash co-contribution by a partner organisation.

Achievements to date

  • The FHRI Fund Strategy was developed through research, analysis of best practice, alignment with important reports and other strategies, and stakeholder consultation. In 2022, four focus areas were introduced: Aboriginal, rural and remote health; burden of disease; living with COVID-19 and long-COVID; and mental health.
  • WA Health and Medical Research Strategy 2023-2033, details the priorities and direction of health and medical research to strengthen capability and create a vibrant, connected research sector.
  • To support co-design data driven research, Curtin University was awarded funding for the Consumer and Community Involvement in Research Workforce Advancement Program to design, implement, and evaluate a research training suite collaboratively with users.
  • Backed by the FHRI Fund, $4.57 million was awarded to 23 researchers under the WA Near Miss Awards: Emerging leaders 2022 program, which supports researchers who are deemed to have high quality applications but narrowly missed out on a highly competitive NHMRC grant.
  • In accordance with Recommendation 28, the Department of Health Office of Medical Research and Innovation is the WA health system Central Unit that provides advice on various matters, including innovation, commercialisation and intellectual property (IP). OMRI is co-ordinating meetings of the leads of the local Innovation Units that have been established within the Health Service Providers.
  • The Department of Health also contributed to the updating of the WA Government Intellectual Property (IP) Policy, which was announced in May 2023. This Policy provides IP guidance to State Government agencies, which is an essential enabler for innovation and commercialisation.
Last reviewed: 03-07-2023