The federal government will redirect pandemic response funding towards the development of onshore mRNA manufacturing to ensure Australians have guaranteed access to life-saving vaccines into the future.
But it has not committed to a timeframe or cost.
The long-term plan is to have the onshore end-to-end capability to produce flu and coronavirus vaccines, like the newest and most effectives vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna that are increasingly difficult to obtain on the global market.
Industry, Science and Technology Minister Christian Porter will now have responsibility for progressing the new mRNA capability, which follows a more concrete promise from the Victorian government last month.
The cost of the endeavour was not revealed in federal budget papers due to commercial in confidence sensitivities, nor has the government promised to financially support the Victorian effort. The total cost of the current vaccine rollout has blown out another $1.9 billion to $20 billion, including unannounced initiatives and related health system costs.
Other industries will receive more than $475 million in new incentives will encourage the private sector to stay ahead in innovation, lift productivity and complete globally.
"We have a clear vision to harness science and technology to expand existing industries and develop new ones, creating long-term and sustainable jobs," Mr Porter said.
The extra funding for science and innovation grants complements the new Patent Box concessional tax rate on income derived from Australian medical and biotechnology patents.
An $118 million new artificial intelligence initiative is one major addition to the government's Digital Economy Strategy, aimed at supporting businesses to both adopt AI and develop world-leading projects, while creating high-skilled jobs.
The government plans to create a National AI Centre, and provide grants to businesses to work with the government to develop AI-based solutions to solve national challenges. It has also earmarked $12 million in funding for AI support projects that specifically benefit regional areas.
New national scholarships will be funded to attract and train AI specialists, cyber security and other emerging technology experts.
Space industry manufacturing, drone security and support, national data assets and digital games development were also among the innovation initiatives announced on Tuesday.
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