Health Research Council strategic refresh

News article

10 November 2015

The Ministry of Health and Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment have released the findings of their strategic refresh of the Health Research Council (HRC).

The refresh confirmed that the HRC is an important component of the science system and plays a valuable role in supporting New Zealand’s high performing health research sector. 

Read the report on the refresh findings:

A key recommendation of the refresh was the development of a health research strategy. The strategy is expected to improve collaboration between health researchers and those in the health system delivering care, improve the impact of health research to New Zealand by generating better connections across the health and innovation sectors, and set the direction for future government funding.

The Ministry of Health and Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment will lead the development of the health research strategy in close collaboration with the Health Research Council.

A public consultation is expected to begin early 2016.


What are the findings of the HRC strategic refresh?

The refresh concluded that the HRC is generally an efficient organisation, well-regarded by its immediate stakeholders, and plays a valuable role in New Zealand's science and innovation system.

The refresh also found that globally, health research has underpinned many advances in human health gains. The HRC funds high quality research and some HRC-funded research has had significant impact in New Zealand.  Health research in general has strong links to New Zealand's broader biological economy and New Zealand health research generally performs very well when compared internationally. 

The refresh report provides Ministers with advice on how to maximise the contribution of the HRC to the government’s health and economic goals and ensure health research plays a central role in both the health sector and the science and innovation system.

The recommendations from the refresh covered six areas for action.

  • Developing a health research strategy
  • Enhancing the Ministerial responsibility arrangements for the HRC
  • Investing in health research
  • Improving the strategic leadership role of the HRC
  • Improving the operations of the HRC
  • Operational funding of the HRC

What actions will be taken as a result of the refresh?

The first piece of work will be the development of a health research strategy, to be led by the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment in close collaboration with the Health Research Council.

The health research strategy will generate better connections across the health sector and science and innovation system, set a cohesive, long-term vision for health research in New Zealand and provide the mechanism to agree on the key priorities to be addressed over the next 10 years.

Public consultation on the draft strategy is expected to begin early 2016.

The HRC will develop a three-yearly investment plan which will set out its approach to contributing to the objectives in the health research strategy.

As well, the Memorandum of Understanding between the Health Ministerial and Science and Innovation portfolios will be updated to clarify how Ministers work together to maximise the value of the Government’s investment in the HRC.

The strategic refresh also made recommendations about the operations of the HRC. In particular that the HRC:

  • focus more on the impact of its research for New Zealand, including preparing a comprehensive impact report every three years
  • further internationalise the membership of its science assessment panels
  • enhance its profile and health research more generally within New Zealand.

The National Statement of Science Investment identified health research as a priority for funding increases in line with the government’s goal to increase its investment in science to 0.8 per cent of GDP. The HRC is the government’s principal mechanism for funding health research in New Zealand. The refresh recommended clarifying the process to determine the funding level of the HRC.

How can I ensure I receive updates on the development of the health research strategy?

Consultation on the development of the strategy will be publically notified on the Ministry of Health and MBIE websites.  

Why was the strategic refresh undertaken?

The refresh was required to identify how we can optimise the valuable contribution of the HRC and ensure the HRC continues to deliver the right outcomes for New Zealanders

The refresh focused on maximising the contribution of the HRC to the Government’s broader health and economic goals, in line with the National Statement of Science Investment and the New Zealand health strategy.

It also sought to ensure HRC funding and other relevant funding mechanisms are closely aligned.

What was the scope of the strategic refresh?

The strategic refresh considered the:

  • balance between health and economic priorities
  • relevance of HRC-funded research to New Zealand
  • balance and type of research funded
  • alignment between the HRC and other funding mechanisms
  • HRC’s priority setting and funding processes
  • governance arrangements for the HRC
  • uptake and commercialisation of health research
  • profile and visibility
  • funding levels.

Who was involved in the refresh?

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and Ministry of Health worked with the HRC in collecting information, consulting with the health research sector and end users, and in developing advice.  

The Ministry’s worked with two external advisors, one from New Zealand and one from Australia, who provided expert input to the process.

Ministry officials also sought feedback from a broad range of stakeholders including health researchers, universities, district health boards, health and medical related firms, other funding agencies and Māori and Pacific communities.

How much money does the government invest in HRC?

The government invests $77 million per year through Vote Business, Science and Innovation in the HRC.

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