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Objective 1: Conduct and encourage the uptake of world-class scientific research

Our first objective is addressed by three key functions:

1.1: Conduct and facilitate the uptake of excellent scientific and technology solutions to deliver impact to the nation.

1.2: Connect to global science, technology and innovation to access new opportunities for Australian innovation.

1.3: Manage funding directed to industrial scientific research activities, commercialisation of technologies and assistance to industry through research collaboration and capacity building.

Function 1.1: Conduct and facilitate the uptake of excellent scientific and technology solutions to deliver impact to the nation

Our key activities for Function 1.1 contributed to our strategic focus areas by:

  • focusing on challenges and missions
  • improving underpinning digital capability
  • greater investment in emerging areas of science
  • greater commercialisation focus
  • industry engagement.

We delivered on this function by:

  • conducting scientific research aligned to key national and global challenges and encouraging or facilitating the application or utilisation of results
  • establishing collaborations and multidisciplinary research partnerships (with public and private sector organisations, other publicly funded research agencies, universities and schools) to integrate the best solution for our customers
  • providing products and technical and advisory services to industry and government including professional consulting and testing facilities.

Conducting scientific research aligned to key national and global challenges

Impact for Australia

Impact is central to our purpose and represents the value created for Australia by the public and industry funding of CSIRO. To achieve impact, we collaborate with other researchers and partner with industry and government bodies that make use of our research.

We use the term ‘impact’ to define an effect, change or benefit to the economy, society or environment. It arises when industry, government and society implement and use our research outcomes.

To measure and assess our impact, we take an in‑depth case study approach to evaluate the diverse benefits from our research activities. Our published Impact Evaluation Guide, updated during 2019–201, articulates a common framework, ensuring consistent and rigorous use across our organisation.

This method provides an opportunity to learn from detailed accounts of if and how impact was
delivered, leading to a deeper understanding of the mechanisms of systemic change. Case studies are validated by external experts and published on our website: www.csiro.au/About/Our-impact.

We also regularly commission an external assessment of the overall value we deliver to the nation, mainly drawing upon the aggregated impact of case study findings. The most recent finding, from an independent study concluded in June, reports our return on investment to the nation as 7.6:1.

This has been underpinned by a strong capacity to deliver impact through durable and trusting relationships, a solid understanding of the problems facing our customers and the nation, as well as a deep commitment to building not just our own capability but also that of those in industry, government and the community when it comes to STEM knowledge and skills. When all these factors combine, uptake and adoption of our collaboratively created solutions is more effective, resulting in greater impacts for Australia.

Partnership with government

Central to our role as the national science agency is to be a trusted advisor and partner to government, ensuring we are working with government to understand and align with national, state and territory priorities, and sharing our research to deliver benefits to industry, the environment and our communities.

We maintain an active relationship with the federal, state, territory and local governments to ensure the breadth and quality of our research is understood and accessible for decision-makers.

Our engagement with government is a two-way partnership. Working in partnership with the federal government helps increase the impact of our research through regulatory change, policy change, and the dissemination of new ideas and technology. Our partnerships with individual state and territory governments are critical to the impactful delivery of our science.

For all tiers of government, having access to world‑class research and cutting-edge technological expertise provides insights for current policy development, the creation of future industries and a view over the horizon to challenges that may affect Australia in the future.

State, territory and local governments

State, territory and local governments, as on‑the‑ground service deliverers and policy makers, are core partners in delivering impact in critical areas of our work. We work across a range of areas, with different and tailored engagements in each region depending on local needs and government priorities. We seek to align our research and research translation strengths to government policies and to optimise outcomes by drawing on the significant research capabilities in state and territory governments and universities. By doing so we can better deliver on our mutual public good goals.

Our Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance (GISERA), supported by federal, state and territory governments, conducts research into impacts of onshore gas development in Queensland, New South Wales, the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia. In south-east South Australia, our scientists completed four GISERA research projects, with two further projects nearing completion and four additional projects planned. Results of this research provide independent information for communities, government and industry on the environmental, social and economic impacts of conventional gas development in the Limestone Coast region of South Australia. Read more at: CSIRO's GISERA: delivering independent science.

In May, we announced research that has produced new understanding of mineralisation in the Yilgarn Province in Western Australia, supported by the Western Australian government through the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia. Researchers found the formation of ancient gold deposits during the Archean period over 2,500 million years ago also produced distinctive patterns of chemical alteration in the surrounding rocks. Looking for these distinctive patterns will make it faster and more efficient for exploration companies to identify potential new deposits.

A cutting-edge 3D visualisation of Western Sydney was launched in February, in a demonstration of what is set to become a step change in urban planning. The digital twin technology was developed by our digital specialists and the New South Wales (NSW) Department of Customer Service’s Spatial Services. Digital twin is an open platform that can visualise 3D and 4D data over time, such as buildings, strata plans, terrain, property boundaries, and utilities including power, water and sewer pipes. The technology will allow planners, developers and policy makers to make more informed decisions, saving costs and creating efficiencies. This first phase of the NSW Spatial Digital Twin includes visualisations of the local government areas that comprise the Western Sydney City Deal and Greater Parramatta to the Olympic Peninsula. Future phases of the digital twin in collaboration with NSW Spatial Services will include other areas of NSW.

We are also working with the NSW Government to embed our capabilities in each of the Sydney Lighthouse Precincts: the Aerotropolis, Westmead Health Precinct; and the Sydney Innovation and Technology Precinct. In addition, we are assisting the Regional Growth NSW Development Corporation to develop new industries, capabilities and skills in the regional Special Activation Precincts.

In Darwin, leading researchers and practitioners will examine how the city can cope with future temperatures that remain hotter for longer. In December, as part of the Darwin City Deal, we joined forces with the Northern Territory Government, the City of Darwin and Australian Government to establish the Darwin Living Lab. The Darwin Living Lab is using science and collaboration to support a liveable, sustainable and resilient Darwin and has been tasked with finding out just how hot Darwin is, who is likely to be impacted by extreme heat, and what can be done about it.

Partnership with industry

Businesses work with us to improve competitiveness, reduce risk, expand markets and develop new industries based on our research. It may be to overcome a specific challenge or capitalise on new opportunities. The partnerships we form with our customers enable us to encourage the uptake of our world-class scientific research.

This year we collaborated with both small and large businesses, in addition to government bodies, international organisations and universities. We adopt a range of commercialisation pathways to take our research to market including licensing our intellectual property, providing research in exchange for equity, embarking on joint ventures and establishing spin-outs.

Over the last four years, we have invested in developing our people’s commercial and customer engagement skills. More than 1,000 people have participated in this training, and as a result our customers have experienced more targeted conversations, business solutions and impactful commercialisation deals.

Our customers asked for more holistic engagement and we responded with more Strategic Account Managers for our state government collaborations and Account Relationship Managers for industry, commercial, university and international customers.

During 2019–20, more than $510 million, across more than 1,800 commercial contracts, was committed to be invested in our research and services. While this is less than usual due to the disruptions of COVID-19, the average contract value of $282,000 is higher than the five-year average. We engaged with 3,600 industry and government entities, attracting 938 new customers and retaining repeat and ongoing business from more than 2,600 customers.

We developed a new Commercialisation Marketplace portal2, making it easier for companies to explore our pipeline of investment and partnership opportunities, as well as a range of licensing options to catalyse innovation and create competitive advantage. It made 32 technologies available and received 104 commercial interest enquiries from over 20,000 site interactions.

Science excellence

The high quality of our research is central to the value we provide to the nation. It is the foundation that enables us to partner with industry, government and society to achieve impact for Australia.

Science excellence is one of the strategic pillars that guide us as we deliver on our purpose to solve the greatest challenges through innovative science and technology. The conduct of strong science not only indicates high-quality scientific capability within the organisation, it also drives profound real-world impact. Here are some recent examples of where our impact has been founded on excellent science areas.

Ningaloo Outlook

The Ningaloo Outlook was a strategic five-year $5.4 million partnership with BHP to increase our understanding of Ningaloo’s reefs and iconic megafauna. The project had a broad range of impacts including collecting additional data to support the ongoing sustainable management of the reefs, STEM engagement in schools, extensive community engagement and the tracking of megafauna movement.

Work on this project was underpinned by our outstanding capability in the field of environment and ecology, where we are ranked 13th globally by total citations. Our outputs make more than twice the global average level of academic impact and represent 12 per cent of Australia’s publications in the field. Read more at: Research to support local community and managers of a World-Heritage-listed coral reef.

Graincast™

Another impactful project underpinned by science excellence is Graincast™, a breakthrough technology for forecasting grain yield. As part of our Digiscape Future Science Platform, we built the tool to provide estimates of crop area, near real-time forecasts of crop yield, and estimates of uncertainty for the agricultural value chain to make better – and new – decisions. In early 2020, we licensed exclusive global rights to the technology to Digital Agriculture Services (DAS), an Australian rural technology start-up, of which we are a founding equity partner.

The impact of this project was underpinned by our excellent capability in the fields of plant and animal science, and agricultural sciences. We are ranked 12th in the world by total citations for both fields; our agricultural publications are cited almost 50 per cent more than the global average, and in plant and animal science, almost 75 per cent more. We produce 14 per cent of Australian agricultural publication outputs and 12 per cent of plant and animal science publication output. Read more at: Digiscape, Commercialising our intellectual property and GraincastTM: Australia's breakthrough grain yield forecasting technology.

Fast radio bursts

An Australian-led research team using fast radio bursts identified by our ASKAP radio telescope solved a decades-long mystery: the detection of missing ‘normal’ matter in the Universe. Knowing the distances to enough fast radio bursts, and measuring the small frequency-dependent delays in their signals as they arrive at the telescope, allowed the team to determine the density of the Universe.

Our accomplishments were underpinned by our excellent capability in astronomy and space science. We are ranked 150th in the world by total citations, with our work receiving 76 per cent more citations than the global average and accounting for nearly a sixth of Australia’s publications in the field. Read more at: Closing in on fast radio bursts.

Research publications

A standard way of evaluating scientific performance is by looking at the publications produced from research and how often they have been cited by other works. Our overall science excellence can be measured by looking at how frequently our work is cited and normalised for subject patterns, and the age of the material. This Normalised Citation Impact (NCI) is a standard indicator and allows for global comparison.

Our metrics show citation levels that are significantly higher than global average. Our NCI performance in the fields for which we deliver crucial impact remains strong; we are ranked in the top 0.1 per cent of institutions globally in the fields of Agricultural Science, Environment/Ecology, Geoscience, and Plant and Animal Science, based on total citations over the last 10 years. We have held this position in these four fields for 15 years – for as long as we have tracked this performance. More than half of our publications appear in these four fields. We also remain in the top one per cent of global institutions for our largest 15 of 22 scientific fields.

Figure 3.1 shows five of our major fields of focus and for each, how strong our publications are and how much we contribute to Australia’s output. For these five fields, we author at least 10 per cent of the country’s publications, indicating a core role in the nation’s research activities. We are at least half again more cited than the global average in these fields, except Environment/Ecology, where we are twice as cited as the global average.

Figure 3.1: Our top five research fields and their citation impact graphs showing the output as a percentage of Australia and our NCI in dark blue dots above

Source: InCites, Articles and Reviews, 2015–19

As shown in Figure 3.2, our publication output rose last year, from 3,101 to 3,367, the first increase after three consecutive declines.

Figure 3.2: Our journal publication output Blue bar graph of the number of our journal publication outputs from the year 2013

Source: Web of Science, Articles and Reviews, All Indices excluding ESCI

The earlier decline was due to the decrease in our research staff in previous years, lagging that change because of the time it takes to conduct and publish research. This year’s rise in output can be expected to continue as it reflects the gradual increase in staff after 2015. While the bulk of our publication output takes the form of peer-reviewed journal articles, we also produce substantial numbers of conference proceedings, along with some book and online materials. We also author and release numerous client and technical reports each year. See more at: 3.3: Highlighting our most active university collaborations.

We produce an annual Science Health and Excellence Report, which analyses our scientific performance using a range of indicators in more detail. Read the report on our website: www.csiro.au/en/About/Our-impact/Reporting-our-impact/Performance-reviews/Science-Excellence-for-Impact.

Future Science and Technology

Developed during 2019–20, our Future Science and Technology (Future S&T) plan provides guidance on the science, engineering and technology capabilities we will need to develop to deliver on our purpose. It acknowledges that research methods are shifting rapidly as digital disruption, non-classical-quantum sciences, and multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary science and technology accelerate the pace at which we can shape the future and solve our greatest challenges.

Future S&T has identified 10 cross-cutting capabilities (CCCs) to enable enhanced collaboration and inclusivity across our organisation, foster professional development and improve organisational capabilities to ensure our long-term sustainability and future impact.

Further to this, Future S&T has engaged widely with staff to capture insights on emerging, potentially transformative areas of research and development. These Emerging Horizons are areas for further exploration beyond our existing capabilities, which will be continually refreshed and expanded with investment through our existing pathways, such as postdoctoral positions or science leaders. Future S&T will also ensure that we keep pace with predicted changes in the use of laboratories and scientific equipment into the future, as we do more of our design and testing in computers before hands-on experimental work. We anticipate that practices will transition as we accelerate the adoption of robotics, artificial intelligence and machine learning to make the most effective use of laboratory space.

Future Science Platforms

To maintain our research at the cutting edge, our Future Science Platforms program is strengthening key cross-organisational capabilities to ensure our long-term sustainability and future impact. Read more about our Future Science Platforms at: Our investment in emerging areas of science.

Encouraging or facilitating the application or utilisation of results

Commercialising our intellectual property

Intellectual property (IP), in its different forms, is the output of our research. Managing and protecting this IP is important for the path to impact for a significant proportion of our research and for the translation of our research into a commercial product.

For example, the IP for v2food played a role in the product’s success in a competitive market. The IP strategy was designed to protect the product from being copied. v2food’s first product, a burger patty, was launched as the Rebel Whopper in more than 440 Hungry Jacks stores around Australia in October. Read more at Delivering on the promise of alternative protein foods.

In maintaining our portfolio of protected IP, at the end of June, we had 675 active patent families, 320 trademark families and 82 plant breeder’s right (PBR) families, as detailed in 3.2: Our intellectual property portfolio. There was a consistent level of new patent, trademark and PBR filings during the financial year, which is a good indicator of investment into existing technology making its way through the pipeline, and it highlights our focus on global strategy.

As an indication of how much of our IP is in use, presently, 53 per cent of our patent portfolio is either subject to a research right, arose as a result of collaborative activity, was used as background IP in a collaboration or evaluation, or is the subject of a commercial licence.

Technology licences are used as key indicators of research and development uptake and adoption by customers and collaborators. The total number of active licences recorded at 30 June was 455, of which 300 have generated revenue.

The total number of active licences marginally increased in comparison to last year. However, our total number of revenue-generating licences has increased significantly. New IP licences, such as our Graincast™ technology licence to Digital Agriculture Services Pty Ltd, and multiple licences for Ontoserver software into healthcare settings in Australia and abroad are forecast to have a positive impact on Australian industry and contribute to the strength of our intellectual property
commercialisation revenue stream.

3.2: Our intellectual property portfolio

IP category

Sub-category

2017–18

2018–19

2019–20

Patents

Provisional applications

53

55

51

Patent Cooperation Treaty
applications and direct filings

69

53

42

Patent families

686

679

673

Granted

2,140

2,244

2,291

Live cases

3,876

4,065

3,990

Trademarks

Australian

264

273

268

Overseas

45

52

49

Plant Breeder’s Rights

Australian

57

59

55

Overseas

25

20

23

Registered designs

Australian

2

2

3

Overseas

3

5

6

Quality patents and other IP rights continue to yield significant returns. In the last five years alone, IP has directly underwritten $45 million of revenue from WLAN, $22 million in new equity positions, plus more than $158 million in cash royalties and fees from other technologies.

Growing companies for impact

We partner with large and small companies who we believe are best placed to take new technologies to market and deliver positive outcomes for Australia.

In addition to the traditional model of licensing our technology to third party companies, we also take an ownership stake in companies that use our world-class technology or research and development capabilities where there is a business case and a compelling reason to do so.

There are several pathways we may take when we acquire an equity position in a company. We spin-out new, high-technology SMEs, where we recognise the value of a technology and bring together commercialisation resources, management teams and investors to create and support entirely new companies that create new jobs and value for industry. We also make our research and development capabilities or IP available to early‑stage companies with limited resources.

In these situations, we assign our IP to the new company in exchange for an ownership stake or take shares in a company as payment for our IP and services. These arrangements can help a start‑up company preserve their cash resources, which increases the likelihood that the company will successfully reach its goals and objectives.

At the end of June, we held investments in eight active listed companies, 25 unlisted companies and three early-stage venture funds (including the CSIRO Innovation Fund, managed by Main Sequence Ventures). The combined value of these holdings is disclosed at 2.1 Financial Assets.

Mining industry disruptor's success backed by strong science and relationships

Backed by the financial acumen of RFC Ambrian, Adelaide-based disruptor, Chrysos Corporation, is using our cutting-edge material analysis technology to improve returns to gold mining companies.

Chief Executive Officer, Dirk Treasure, said Chrysos, which was founded in 2016, brought together a strong network of leading scientists, engineers, manufacturing specialists and commercialisation managers.

‘The company model that was adopted when Chrysos was spun out meant that we were able to do what we do best – and that’s commercialise the technology,’ Mr Treasure said.

‘We were able to take the science that was developed by CSIRO and continue developing it to a level that made the most commercial sense.’

Establishing collaborations and multidisciplinary research partnerships

Research collaboration

Beyond partnering with industry and government, we also collaborate extensively with universities and research institutions, both in Australia and internationally, in order to achieve impact.

Our collaboration in Australia’s innovation ecosystem, at a range of scales, helps knowledge flow from ideas to testing concepts, to translation for impact for industries and communities.

University collaboration

Our collaborations with universities are multifaceted and occur at different scales for different purposes, ranging from an individual researcher to strategic whole-of-institution, impact-focused partnerships.

Most of our collaborations with Australian universities occur in joint research projects and result in joint publications. At the same time, we contribute to training the next generation of STEM
researchers by co-supervising postgraduate students with 30 universities – helping to build our own and the nation’s talent pipeline.

3.3: Highlighting our most active university collaborations

University

Number of collaborative publications

Co-supervised students

Plant & Animal

AgSci

Geoscience

Environ & Ecology

Chemistry

Material Science

Space

Engineering

University of Melbourne

1,361

26

0

0

0

0

119

93

0

0

University of Queensland

1,328

46

222

101

0

278

0

0

0

0

Australian National University

1,215

95

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

93

University of Western Australia

1,199

33

157

98

0

220

0

0

157

0

Monash University

1,129

75

0

0

0

0

229

215

0

0

University of New South Wales

1,044

75

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

79

University of Sydney

881

28

0

0

0

0

0

0

192

0

University of Tasmania

857

59

191

0

155

167

0

0

0

0

Curtin University

658

24

0

0

158

0

0

0

207

0

University of Adelaide

651

19

0

130

0

0

0

0

0

0

RMIT University

519

49

0

0

0

0

142

86

0

0

Table 3.3 shows the numbers of jointly supervised higher education (research) students and joint authorship papers for the universities we most actively collaborate with. The table also illustrates on a research field basis the universities with which we had highest number of joint papers.

Over the past five years, 68 per cent of our publications were co-authored with domestic collaborators, including all research-active Australian universities, and 62 per cent included international co-authors. In the research fields of Plant and Animal Science, Agricultural Science and Environment/Ecology (all key areas of our science; read more at Research publications), collaboration output with the Universities of Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania were extensive. Collaborations in Chemistry and Materials Science were strong with the three universities in Victoria: Monash University, the University of Melbourne and RMIT University.

We have long-term partnerships with Victorian universities with a key strategic focus on working together to support the Victorian manufacturing sector. In Space Science, we collaborate with Curtin University, the University of Sydney and the University of Western Australia. More details of our co-authoring are available in our annual Science Health and Excellence Report published on our website.

To complement our researcher collaboration, we contribute to training and developing Australia’s research workforce by supervising more than 1,850 undergraduate and postgraduate university students each year. Some of our major collaborators in co-supervision include the Australian National University, Monash University, the University of New South Wales and the University of Tasmania. More details of our role and programs are available at: Function 2.1: Promote STEM capability, development and education.

Furthermore, 11 of our sites are co-located with universities. At these sites we often jointly fund and develop shared research infrastructure and equipment.

We assemble or participate in cross-institutional teams to bring together the right capability to achieve solutions and benefits for Australia, such as our work on the Great Barrier Reef. We manage and maintain significant national research infrastructure for access by national and global research teams.

We develop long-term partnerships with industry to support the development and commercialisation of new technology that will transform sectors, such as in our partnership with Nuseed and in Cooperative Research Centres. We also fill critical gaps in the system by developing bespoke ways to enable early stage companies to access our resources and know‑how, as depicted in the Lindfield Collaboration Hub.

Collaboration in the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is an iconic world‑heritage listed site of major importance to Australians, but a poor long-term outlook is projected from the impacts of climate change. In 2018, the Federal government funded a two‑year $6 million feasibility study into a range of science and engineering-based interventions for reef restoration and adaptation. We contributed to the project to design the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program (RRAP) led by the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and with collaboration from James Cook University, the University of Queensland, Queensland University of Technology, and Southern Cross University.

Planning for the program has involved taking a coordinated systems approach to stakeholder mapping, public consultation and conceptually testing the feasibility of potential science‑based interventions. In April, a report detailing the outcome from this critical planning work was provided to the Australian government.

The $250 million RRAP will seek to develop an innovative and world-leading toolkit of safe, acceptable interventions to help the reef resist, adapt to and recover from the impacts of climate change. The program will be funded in part from The Reef Trust – Great Barrier Reef Foundation Partnership six-year grant with additional contributions from the collaborating parties.

In addition to contributing great research capability to the feasibility study, we provided a broker to ensure internal coordination within our organisation and in turn strengthen inter-institutional collaboration. With this, the relationships and engagements, and the science being delivered are more harmonised, integrated and efficient.

Collaboration with Nuseed

We developed technology to produce omega-3 oils in canola. Since 2011, we’ve worked in partnership with the Grains Research and Development Corporation and subsequently Nuseed, an Australian company with global reach with its canola business. Together we’ve refined and translated this into an innovative canola crop and new paths to market. This collaboration is helping Nuseed achieve its vision to move from being part of a traditional siloed agricultural supply chain to delivering new technology-based end-to-end value chain.

The result is a sustainable source of healthy long‑chain omega-3 oils equivalent to those found in fish oil. The new value chain combines plant-based innovation with coordinated farm and processing technologies to produce traceable proprietary oils. These oils will be used in aquaculture feedstocks and nutraceuticals for human nutrition. Global demand for healthy oils is growing fast and outstripping conventional supply. Omega-3 canola provides a new sustainable source that will reduce pressure on the world’s fisheries and at the same time give Australian grain growers a new high‑value crop.

Regulatory approval has been obtained in several countries to grow the crop and to use the oil products for specific purposes. Commercial-scale crop production has begun in Montana and North Dakota, in the United States of America, with the first oil already crushed this year. Initial trials with aquaculture companies have been very successful and supply contracts are expected to be confirmed during 2020. Australian grain production is planned in the coming years.

Cooperative Research Centres

The Cooperative Research Centres (CRCs) program supports collaborations between researchers, industry and the community to foster high-quality research and development. The program enables research teams to assemble across institutions, and industries to connect to inform research priorities and rapidly take up research outputs to maximise impact.

Since the CRC program commenced, the Australian Government has funded 230 CRCs and 28 were active in 2019–20. We are the single biggest research organisation involved in CRCs and have contributed to more than 150 CRCs over time; this year we participated in 17 CRCs. We also participated in 16 CRC Projects (CRC-Ps). These are smaller collaborations that operate on project timelines of up to three years and grants of up to $3 million. The total cash and in-kind contribution to CRCs and CRC‑Ps this year was $18.4 million.

This year, we became a member of SmartSat CRC. This is an important national initiative bringing together international and national partners. It aims to deliver smart satellite systems that are Australian designed and owned to provide real-time connectivity, surveillance, and sensing capability in space and over land and sea. The outcome of this research will be development of IP and specialist industry expertise that will create new businesses, export economic value and generate new high-tech jobs for Australians.

We also participated in the Blue Economy CRC, which is one of the largest CRCs the government has funded. Industry and researchers are tackling the growing global demand for high-value seafood products by using innovative offshore infrastructure powered by affordable, renewable energy. Aquaculture is the fastest growing food-producing sector in the world – Blue Economy CRC will manage our marine resources and drive advanced manufacturing and technologies to deliver benefits for Australia.

In March, the successful outcomes of Round 21 were announced, which will see us participate in two additional CRCs:

  • CRC Transformation in Mining Economies, which will address the complex challenges underpinning mine closures and transforming mining economies to enable Australian regions and their communities to build a successful post‑mine future.
  • Reliable Affordable Clean Energy for 2030 Cooperative Research Centre, which will deliver better value for energy customers, reduced energy costs and emissions, and improve overall network reliability.
Cancer Therapeutics CRC collaboration produces drugs with the potential to save lives

Throughout 2019–20, we collaborated in the Cancer Therapeutics CRC, a Melbourne-based cancer research organisation at the forefront of discovery science dedicated to finding cures for cancers.

The CRC specialises in the small molecule approach to treating cancer by modulating (switching on or off) cancer causing-proteins in the body. This is a more targeted approach than using radiation or chemotherapy.

Through this collaboration, we contributed expertise in protein science – producing drug targets and characterising the interaction of small molecule drug prototypes with the drug targets.

The Cancer Therapeutics CRC expects three drugs to go into clinical trials within the next year – a result of our collaborative efforts with the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, universities and biotech companies.

These therapeutics have the potential to reduce suffering and save lives. They are also attracting investment and helping to create jobs and support growth, with four preclinical licensing deals executed.

Lindfield Collaboration Hub

The Lindfield Collaboration Hub is just one example of the unique opportunities we offer to start-ups and early stage SMEs. The hub improves access to our staff and facilities for development of specialist optical systems and electromechanical device manufacturing. Since 2016, with support from the NSW Government, 1,500 square metres of our site has been made available as affordable laboratories and offices. This is to facilitate collaboration for start-ups to take their ideas from science principles through prototyping, to proof of commercial viability. In these four years, 47 companies (with 350 staff) have been involved as tenants or participants in innovation programs associated with the Lindfield Collaboration Hub.

Tenants have access to a maker space, support staff and industry events including seminars, workshops and networking. Benefits include fee-based access to engineering workshops, characterisation facilities, staff and facilities at the co-located National Measurement Institute and the Connect@Lindfield program, a variant of the ON program for industry. This innovation program provides structured business model and commercialisation readiness testing, and it facilitates relationship building with the Australian research community.

Companies who have been part of the Lindfield Collaboration Hub have provided feedback during this year that these facilities are not available elsewhere and provide a critical pathway to success for early stage companies. Affordable access to suitable facilities has accelerated product development. Co-location with other early stage companies and our researchers has provided a forum for sharing and exploring research and development problems and ideas, identifying potential funding sources and better accessing technical information.

Providing products, and technical and advisory services

Advice for government

We provide research and technical input to government to assist in evidence-based policy and program development and decision-making. This includes briefings and reports in response to government requests for advice, sharing papers we developed, and input into consultation processes and parliamentary inquiries. If longer-term support is required, we may provide experts through a secondment to a government department or agency. For example, this year we provided a resource economist to assist the government’s waste and recycling taskforce.

In November, the Australian Government released its artificial intelligence (AI) technology roadmap. The roadmap, which we developed, outlines the importance of action for Australia to capture the benefits of AI, estimated to be worth $22.17 trillion, to the global economy by 2030. It leveraged our data science and digital expertise and was developed for the Australian Government in consultation with industry, government and academia. It identified strategies to help develop a national AI capability to boost the productivity of Australian industry, create jobs and economic growth, and improve the quality of life for current and future generations.

Our Transport Network Strategic Investment Tool (TraNSIT) has revolutionised the way Australia’s transport-related infrastructure investments are prioritised. It is used widely by all levels of government to inform our country’s largest transport infrastructure projects and initiatives, reducing costs and increasing the resilience of our freight supply chains. TraNSIT was listed as a key contributing tool for the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy, which was endorsed by the Transport and Infrastructure Council in August as a plan for integrated national action across all freight modes over the next 20 years and beyond.

In May, we published a Quantum Technology Roadmap, which shows that Australia’s quantum technology sector could generate over $4 billion annually and facilitate 16,000 jobs by 2040. The roadmap identified short-term actions that can help to build on the nation’s competitive advantages and capture this valuable opportunity. This roadmap was collaboratively developed, and we provided regular updates to Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel AO, Australia’s Chief Defence Scientist, Professor Tanya Monro, the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, and relevant stakeholders in state governments to inform policy development and decision making.

Assist government decision-making

We have significant expertise in developing tools to assist with decision-making, for example in modelling and data analytics. We regularly work with government to develop these tools that can be directly used by policy makers, or that can be made available to sectors of the community (such as farmers) by government as part of government programs.

The Australian e-Health Research Centre (AEHRC), our digital health research program and a joint venture we have with the Queensland Government, used its deep health knowledge and expertise to support state and federal governments with their responses to COVID-19. The AEHRC health system analytics team has worked with a number of state health departments on their forecasting models, which are being used to make decisions by health services. The AEHRC also developed an Australian COVID-19 dashboard and made it available to state and federal health agencies to provide timely and useful national and international data along with advanced modelling of the data for decision-making.

Throughout 2019, we visited all 56 of Australia’s Natural Resource Management (NRM) regions with experts from the Bureau of Meteorology to explore how historical weather observations could provide insights into changes experienced in the region. The result of these consultations, combined with further data analysis by the Bureau, CSIRO and Farmlink, are localised climate guides for each NRM region, funded through the Commonwealth Government’s Drought Assistance Package. The climate guides present historical weather and climate information from the last 30 years of observations, and in doing so, describe the current climate in the context of short- and long-term regional variability. The aim is to provide farmers and agribusinesses with agriculturally relevant climate information so that they can make the best decisions based on information from the past and the future.

Delivering government programs

In some cases, we run entire programs on behalf of government, where the programs require specialist expertise and connections that we can provide.

In March, the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources appointed us as the national delivery partner of the Innovation Connections and Incubator Support elements of their Entrepreneurs’ Programme. Through this program, for example, we supported Queensland company TAE Aerospace to commercialise our Guardian Mentor Remote wearable technology system and make it available to the global aerospace industry. We identified the University of Newcastle as having the right expertise and connected them with Norris, an Australian SME, to evaluate the energy efficiency of their cold washcycle commercial dishwasher to support marketing to existing and new customers. We also supported Yolngu Business Enterprises to develop the capability to control destructive ant infestations for mine site rehabilitation, environmental management and construction services in north-east Arnhem Land. More examples are published on our website and at Innovation Connections.

On behalf of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, we are managing Aus4Innovation, an $11 million development assistance program that aims to strengthen Vietnam’s innovation system, prepare for and embrace opportunities associated with Industry 4.0, and help shape Vietnam’s innovation agenda in science and technology. The program is being undertaken in partnership with the Vietnamese Ministry of Science and Technology and is funded by the Australian Aid program. Aus4Innovation is about creating and using science, innovation and technology for economic, social and environmental benefit and through the Science Commercialisation Partnerships, we have delivered a number of workshops for local partners. The workshops focused on connecting research to market, building commercialisation capability, and scaling for sustainability and impact.

There are two rounds of funding; the first took place in October. The three projects announced were awarded $1.6 million and are focusing on global challenges including water pollution, overfishing and early breast cancer detection. Round two projects will be announced in late 2020.

Our efforts this year contributed to us delivering towards our outcomes (see 3.4: Summary of our performance for conducting and facilitating the uptake of excellence scientific and technology solutions):

  • The application of research benefits to the Australian economy, society and environment.
  • The provision of timely advice, information, and specific solutions inform and protect society and the environment.
  • New knowledge and solutions are available to be used by academia, government and customers.
  • Strong relationships with universities and other research organisations enhance Australia’s innovation capacity.
  • We are trusted as the national science agency and have a reputation for world-class pioneering research.

Analysis of performance

3.4: Summary of our performance for conducting and facilitating the uptake of excellence scientific and technology solutions

Performance measures
Source: 2019–20 Corporate Plan

Target

Result

Impact: value of benefits created for Australia

Demonstrated value of benefits underpinned by an increasing annual portfolio of externally validated impact case studies capturing triple-bottom-line impacts

Evidence of maintained or increased impact

Achieved: substantial triple-bottom-line benefits have resulted from our work and are demonstrated by 25 impact case studies.

Customer satisfaction

Customer Net Promoter Score (NPS) maintained with increased sample

NPS +40

The survey was not conducted due to COVID-19 disruptions to many of our customers.

Research is recognised as excellent, referenced and used by academia

Normalised Citation Impact (NCI)

NCI 1.5

Achieved: NCI 1.5

Science and technology is adopted and creates value for industry

Mixed methods quantitative assessment of equity portfolio; 3-year rolling average of revenue from Intellectual Property (i.e. Royalties, Licensing); spin-out companies established and the creation of new SMEs facilitated

Maintain or increase across each method

Achieved: SMEs and other companies created and grown, yielding substantial returns from commercialisation of CSIRO technology, outweighing a slight downturn in royalty proceeds.

Effective collaborative relationships with the research and development sector

Demonstrated evidence of the value created from deep R&D collaborative relationships with mixed methods including joint publication, formal partnerships and qualitative assessment

Evidence of the value created in a collaboration from a mixed methods assessment

Achieved: multi-party collaboration in the Great Barrier Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program will contribute to preserving national heritage.

CSIRO is recognised as a trusted advisor

Business Sentiment Survey: awareness of potential to work directly with CSIRO and knowledge of CSIRO

Increase year on year

The survey was not conducted due to COVID-19 disruptions to the business community.

Impact: value of benefits created for Australia

During 2019–20, we completed the targeted 25 impact case studies across our portfolio. These represent not only value delivered by our research activities, but also building our ability to assess impact from our national facilities, collections and services programs.

Here are some examples of studies completed during 2019–20.

Microencapsulation

We developed the MicroMAX® suite of food production technologies (1999–2019) for microencapsulation of bioactive nutrients to protect them from degradation during processing, storage and gastro-intestinal transit. This also helps with enabling the incorporation of some nutritious ingredients in the food items with sensory acceptability and masking undesirable flavours in some applications.

The benefits of MicroMAX® include, in the production process, improved efficiency and productivity, with a lower environmental footprint as longer shelf life of food items result in less food wastage. For the business, benefits identified are new services, products, jobs and market niches enabled by new technologies, with both domestic demand and export revenue from products based on the technology. Ultimately, it contributes to the health and wellbeing of the community through access to high nutritional value food products.

3D Situational Awareness (3DSA)

3DSA is a cost-effective situational awareness technology for factories and other industrial settings that provides a range of benefits including reducing the risk of collisions, injuries and property damage, improved workflow, and increased productivity in manufacturing operations and factory floors.

The ability of the 3DSA system to provide real-time information and record the movement happening in real time is where its greatest value lies. The system uses scalable and customisable security cameras to track movement and records information onto a database for advanced analytics of the flow of materials around a factory or distribution centre – where people walk, check in and out, and the movement of product and vehicles – that standard 2D safety LiDAR cannot detect. The 3DSA system is the only system currently available on the market to achieve this. The anticipated benefits to multiple industry sectors from increased labour productivity and cost savings from deployment are expected to be substantial.

The Centre for Australian National Biodiversity Research (CANBR)

The CANBR provides a point of truth for reliable, repeatable and verifiable plant specimens, improving accessibility of plant specimens and data. Access is maximised through the digitisation of plant specimens. CANBR conducts basic and applied collections-based research and generates new tools and methods for species identification.

The benefits of CANBR include enhanced biological security, improved biodiversity and adaptation to climate change, enriched human capital through collaboration between researchers and government agencies, and improvements in data accessibility through digitisation and the imaging of the collection in support of future research.

Consolidated analysis

Analysis of 120 impact case studies conducted over the past five years provided insights into the critical drivers of success and further understanding of the link between research excellence and impact. In summary, our analysis found that designing and producing excellent science is an important element in delivering impact, as long as other required factors are also in place, including:

  • the ability to work and build trust with others
  • clear and commonly understood research problems
  • planning for impact
  • identifying boundary spanners
  • tracking what is critical to an impact pathway to
  • help with decision making.

We also regularly commission an external assessment of the overall value we deliver to the nation, mainly drawing upon the impact case study findings. The most recent finding, published in June, estimates a 7.6:1 return on investment, an increase from 2018’s result of 6:1.

This year, we updated our approach for quantifying our return on investment. In past years, we compared all estimated benefits from a typical year of research to our annual operating budget. Our new approach is, for each year, to compare the benefits to the costs of research for a specific time period (recent years’ actuals plus up to 10 years of projections). This will create, in effect, the equivalent of a moving average return on investment that places less emphasis on historical patterns and more emphasis on current value generation. The new method was developed by RTI International, an independent non-profit research institute. We believe this new approach delivers a more accurate representation of our value.

Customer satisfaction

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a key performance metric of our performance analysis. It is industry standard, globally, and a measure of advocacy and loyalty. We have experienced continued customer satisfaction over the past four years, evidenced by our NPS increasing from +11 in 2018 to +45 in 2019, which exceeds targets. Our recent customer satisfaction performance indicates that we are listening to our customers and partnering with them in collaborative and commercially realistic ways.

We decided not to undertake a Customer Satisfaction Survey in 2020, out of consideration for the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our customers. Many of our customers are facing uncertain business and economic circumstances, and we continue to partner with them for impact and are actively supporting them in their recovery journey post‑COVID-19.

Research is recognised as excellent, referenced and used by academia

Our citation performance is effectively stable; our NCI (excluding medical research) increased slightly from 1.48 to 1.50. This means our NCI is 50 per cent higher than the global average, based on publications produced from 2015–19, compared to 48 per cent for publications from 2014–18. It indicates that our science quality is stable relative to the world average. The sensitivity of the metric means that a more sustained upward trend would be required to represent a real improvement. We ranked eighth this year against the 40 publication-active Australian universities, compared to ninth using the same metric last year.

The NCI (excluding medical research) metric has now been adopted as it is more reflective of our research and our relative performance. However, it is slightly different to results published in previous years, which also included medical research in the NCI calculation. Using the previous calculation method yields an NCI of 1.49, unchanged since the result of 1.49 reported last year.

Science and technology is adopted and creates value for industry

Overall, the commercialisation of our outputs has created substantial value for industry this year, creating and growing companies and other ventures and the workforces they employ. A share of this growth is attributed to CSIRO, recognised as $81.4 million of realised and unrealised returns to CSIRO in 2019–20, an increase of 46 per cent compared to the previous year.

This result was largely due to a material appreciation in the value of a number of companies that had been spun-out by CSIRO in past years, representing the success and growth of these companies. Some of the companies that have made significant strides in deploying CSIRO technology include Chrysos (read more at: Mining industry disruptor's success backed by strong science and relationships and Disruptive gold analysis technology from Chrysos expands into Kalgoorlie goldfields), NextOre, v2food (read more at: Delivering on the promise of alternative protein foods and Commercialising our intellectual property), and PolyNovo (read more at: PolyNovo). In 2019–20, we entered six new equity deals, double the historic rate, including three that facilitated the creation of new SMEs. Furthermore, as part of proactive portfolio management, $7.5 million worth of shares were sold for reinvestment of the proceeds.

Our renewed and more deliberate choices in structuring the pathway to market, in addition to the maturing of our portfolio, have resulted in a shift in the realisation of commercial returns. Whilst gains arise from increases in equity holdings, average returns for royalties and licensing revenues over the past three years, at $35.9 million per year, are slightly less than the $38.8 million average for the three years to 2019. The decline is primarily attributable to reduced royalties from agricultural products as drought impacts crop yields.

Collectively, these results represent great successes of our commercialisation strategies in enabling industry to adopt and create value from our research outputs and support.

Effective collaborative relationships with the research and development sector

We have made major contributions to Great Barrier Reef (GBR) research over the past two decades, primarily in the areas of agricultural production, natural resource management, and estuarine and marine sciences. This portfolio of research has involved multiple areas within CSIRO and included many other research organisations and stakeholders.

Together, we have achieved significant science, industry and policy outcomes and impacts, such as influencing strategic discussions around climate change, reef restoration and adaptation, as well as significantly increasing the acknowledgement of the role of, and contributions made, by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Critical to our success has been the coordination of our various and valuable inputs made by each partner. Since 2016, Dr Christian Roth has played a key role in synchronising our interactions with many organisations, ensuring scalable solutions are targeted at addressing this complex challenge.

An evaluation of the coordinator role found that the function made a positive and significant difference, especially strengthening engagement with key GBR stakeholders, facilitating and enriching relationships, connecting and integrating different fields of science and expertise, and improving integration and collaboration both within CSIRO and with other parties. Stakeholders reported that, without the role, the research would have continued to be fragmented, disjointed and inefficient.

This has enabled us to make a critical contribution to the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program, led by the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences.

After the completion of the feasibility phase, in April the government announced a $150 million program that also includes the University of Queensland, Queensland University of Technology, James Cook University, Southern Cross University and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

Our ongoing ability to collaborate with multiple other parties, from within diverse parts of CSIRO, is essential to maximise the benefits of this program and contribute to the preservation of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

CSIRO is recognised as a trusted advisor

We strive to be recognised as a trusted advisor for Australian industry and governments on behalf of society, providing solutions and advice based on scientific research. We seek the views of industry through an annual survey as an indicator of achieving this trusted advisor status.

We decided not to undertake a Business Survey in 2020, out of consideration for the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Australian businesses. As a proxy, we refer to the positive results of our survey of the general community, which show a total favourable trust score of 81 per cent, up two per cent from 2019, indicating that we are trusted by the community. Read more at: Communication.

Function 1.2: Connect to global science, technology and innovation to access new opportunities for Australian innovation

Our key activities for Function 1.2 contributed to our strategic focus areas by:

  • supporting the Team Australia program
  • assisting with gaining access to global markets
  • capturing global investment
  • promoting global best practice models.

We delivered on this function by:

  • accelerating the overall rates of international engagement, operations and collaboration where there is a higher potential impact value return to Australia than available domestically
  • prioritising key regions for sustained presence and development where there is clear intersection with our impact objectives and sustainable business opportunities.

Accelerating the overall rates of international engagement, operations and collaboration

Australia’s and our ability to deliver against multidisciplinary challenges today and into the future requires connection to global science, technology and innovation. Our Global Strategy aims to accelerate our international engagement, operations and collaboration to deliver national benefit.

Many of today’s challenges, such as climate change, global economic stability or access to energy resources, are complex, interconnected and have a global reach. Our scientists have been successfully collaborating with organisations across the globe for 100 years to solve these challenges facing people, the environment and society.

Levels of global engagements and activity have consistently grown, enabling demonstrated benefit through four key areas: enhancing our global scientific standing through global partnerships; connecting the domestic innovation system to the global innovation system; attracting foreign investment to Australia; and supporting Australia’s foreign policy agenda.

At the centre of our international focus is partnerships, and in 2019–20 we worked with 378 international customers and collaborators across more than 50 countries. Our work conducted internationally ranges from fundamental research to high-value strategic partnerships to address today’s challenges. Our partnerships and collaborations provide us access to leading-edge scientific capability, advanced infrastructure and leveraged investment, allowing us to capture the greatest value from our innovations.

Active global strategic partnerships

Over the past five years, we have grown our Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreements with international institutions from 35 to now 159 (139 active), with 19 signed in 2019–20. The latest MOUs cover areas of science such as agriculture and food, astronomy and space, data and digital, land and water, manufacturing, minerals, and oceans and atmosphere. Agreements this year were with 12 countries: China, Fiji, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, Mauritius, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, South Korea, United Kingdom and Vietnam.

MOUs have underpinned the increase in the number of our strategic partnerships, with an additional five formed in the last 12 months, totalling 21, growing our science engagement with global partners (see 3.5: Global engagement). This resulted in a transition from researcher to researcher engagements to organisational partnerships, enabling increased access to talent and complementary science capability and capacity. These partnerships allow us to enhance our international projects, whilst also developing in-country capability and capacity to support delivery offshore.

3.5: Global engagement

2015–16

2016–17

2017–18

2018–19

2019–20

Total

Active global strategic partnerships

10

1

1

4

5

21

Number of new MOUs signed

33

33

43

31

19

159

Number of expired MOUs

2

5

5

8

13

33

These strategic partnerships are also an important mechanism to support science diplomacy in key regions and reinforce our commitment to supporting Australia’s foreign policy agenda, which is evidenced by our extensive program of diplomatic support activities in each region. This is highlighted through the strategic partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, where we have delivered and supported multiple programs across the Asia‑Pacific Region. Most recently, we’re supporting the development of the relationship between Australian and Vietnam, through managing the Aus4Innovation Program. Read more at: Delivering government programs.

Our global reach

map of the world that indicates our global reach and where we have had strategic partnerships during 2019-20 such as the USA, France, India and Bangladesh, the Republic of Korea, Chile, Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia.

Team Australia

An important part of our Global Strategy is shaped around the work we do to support the Team Australia program. Together with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Austrade and the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, we work to build a stronger nation that protects Australia’s interests internationally and contributes to global stability and economic growth. Our partnerships are key to delivering greater impact in areas that address complex, multidisciplinary regional challenges.

For example, with marine plastic waste a key bilateral issue of concern for Australia and Indonesia, the Federal Government has agreed to establish an Indonesia-Australia Systemic Innovation Lab on Marine Plastic Waste. This $1.6 million initiative that we are leading in Australia will strengthen our research collaboration to help identify new approaches in tackling marine plastic waste across our region. The Lab will bring together key stakeholders to create cross-sector partnerships and world-first projects to drive the transition to a zero marine plastic waste economy.

Linking to global markets

Creating opportunities for SMEs and the domestic innovation ecosystem to access global markets is critical to our Global Strategy, and partnerships in many regions have been formed to increase market reach and competitiveness.

SVG Ventures-THRIVE, based in Silicon Valley, invests in early- and growth-stage AgTech companies, connecting entrepreneurs to established companies and managing the THRIVE Accelerator program. We formed a three-year partnership with SVG Ventures-THRIVE to bring the most promising Australian start-ups to Silicon Valley and showcase their projects to United States investors and corporate partners for funding and commercialisation. In 2020, two start-up teams were awarded seed funding and participated in the accelerator, which is the first time Australian start‑ups have been selected into the program.

Value return to Australia

Our international engagements often involve funding and capability investment from partners, which may not otherwise be available domestically. This global investment into major regional programs generates a higher potential value return to Australia and its emerging industries through innovative science and technology developments.

We are currently exploring how we can best support the scale-up of Australia’s emerging hydrogen industry; Australia is uniquely positioned to drive forward clean hydrogen energy due to its extensive renewable energy resources and infrastructure. In 2019–20, we partnered with Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and provided seed funding to explore the development of a Joint Renewable Hydrogen Technology and Demonstration Test Bed.

The proposed Renewable Hydrogen Test Bed would provide capability, facility and demonstration services to accelerate the creation of viable energy technology pathways based on renewable hydrogen systems. This work is strongly aligned to the future direction of the two countries’ bi-lateral relationship, with both Prime Ministers agreeing to conclude a Memorandum of Understanding this year to drive cooperation through projects and initiatives in developing hydrogen markets, supply chains and standards, Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage, and renewable electricity trade.

Prioritising key regions for sustained presence and development

To drive international engagement, we have established several overseas locations. Currently, we have two international offices located in Silicon Valley, the United States of America, and Santiago, Chile, with one laboratory in Montpellier, France. We also have people based in the Australian Embassies in Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia.

We recently featured on the world stage as a key contributor to the COVID-19 vaccine (read more at: Understanding COVID-19), but our reputation as a world‑leading research organisation is prevalent across various fields. In 2019, we were recognised for our contributions to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. We were awarded the inaugural 2019 GEO Sustainable Development Goals Award for Innovation.

Our robust land degradation mapping method, adopted by the United Nations, is being used by more than 140 countries around the world to track and compare their progress in addressing land degradation, contributing to a unified, global view where previously there had been no consistent measure for reporting on factors like over-grazing, drought and contamination. The solution uses Earth observation technology, generated by satellite imaging, to map land degradation over time, and drew on a network of more than 80 expert contributors and reviewers to develop global standards and tools.

Our efforts this year contributed to us delivering towards our outcomes (see 3.6: Summary of our performance for accessing new opportunities for Australian innovation):

  • We are recognised as being part of Team Australia in global markets’ access to world-class capability and talent
  • Linkages for our Australian SMEs and domestic university partners to global markets
  • Increased value creation for our innovations and services.

Analysis of performance

3.6: Summary of our performance for accessing new opportunities for Australian innovation

Performance measures
Source: 2019–20 Corporate Plan

Target

Result

National benefits of international projects and activities

Demonstrated value of benefits underpinned by an increasing annual portfolio of impact case studies on global activities with specific assessment of the value created and national benefit

Evidence from at least 2 case studies

Achieved: substantial triple-bottom-line benefits have resulted from our work and are demonstrated by 3 impact case studies completed.

In 2019–20, we undertook three impact case studies that demonstrated the value and benefit delivered to Australia through our global activities, particularly through supporting foreign policy agendas and enhancing the value of our innovation.

Applied Research and Innovation Systems in Agriculture (ARISA)

ARISA was an $8 million program that we delivered for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, under the Australia-Indonesia Partnership for Rural Development. It supported the Government of Indonesia’s development strategy to accelerate poverty reduction through inclusive economic growth. The program focused on the commercial application of innovation in agriculture, bringing together agribusiness and research institutes to make farming innovations more accessible for smallholder farming households in eastern Indonesia. That case study shows that by the end of 2018, ARISA had increased the net incomes of over 11,000 households by an average of 117 per cent. International collaborations such as ARISA, strengthen our role as a trusted advisor supporting Australian Government priorities to deliver on international programs that assist Australia’s foreign policy agenda.

Five-hundred-metre Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST)

FAST, in Guizhou Province, China, is the largest single dish radio telescope in the world following its completion in 2016. We were contracted by FAST to develop and supply the 19-beam receiver, with ongoing scientific collaboration under the research Memorandum of Understanding we had with the National Astronomical Observatories of China. FAST will help to enhance our understanding of the interstellar medium lifecycle, cosmology, galaxy evolution, star formation and exoplanets. Global collaboration is an integral part of our strategy as it maps out our delivery of science, technology and innovation to new customers and markets, while also delivering benefit back to Australia. In this case, benefits included financial returns for the supply of the equipment and access to observation data.

PolyNovo

PolyNovo, a biomedical SME, has demonstrated access and penetration of international markets by an Australian SME commercialising technology founded on our research and which we supported during its commercialisation. Through this process, PolyNovo has grown to employ more than 20 people, listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in September, and is now worth over $1.5 billion. The non-toxic polymers developed by our team in the 2000s have resulted in NovoSorb, a biodegradable material that can be used to aid the repair of bone fractures and damaged cartilage, and in skin grafts, particularly for treating wounds and burns. This case study demonstrates our role in originating and supporting the technology to enable the growth and success of an Australian SME on a global scale.

Function 1.3: Manage funding directed to industrial scientific research activities, commercialisation of technologies and assistance to industry through research collaboration and capacity building

Our key activities for Function 1.3 contributed to our strategic focus areas by the:

  • CSIRO Innovation Fund
  • Science and Industry Endowment Fund (SIEF).

We delivered on this function by:

  • CSIRO Innovation Fund, managed by Main Sequence Ventures, investment in start-up and spin-out companies, existing SMEs engaged in translation of research, and company formation opportunities to support business growth and a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in Australia. Read more at: Investing in innovative Australian companies.
  • SIEF grants to science and scientists for the purposes of assisting Australian industry, furthering the interests of the Australian community and contributing to solving national challenges. Read more at: Part 6: Science and Industry Endowment Fund.

Our efforts this year contributed to us delivering towards our outcome (see 3.7: Summary of our performance for managing funding directed to industrial scientific research activities):

  • Australian industries maintain and improve their competitiveness through the application of new technologies and solutions.

Analysis of performance

3.7: Summary of our performance for managing funding directed to industrial scientific research activities

Performance measures
Source: 2019–20 Corporate Plan

Target

Result

Strategic investments by SIEF in scientific research to address national challenges for Australia

Technologies receiving ongoing commercialisation support from venture capital or industry sources one year after completion of the SIEF Experimental Development Program

Evidence of ongoing support and impact as measured through case studies

Achieved: Hydrogen Generation project is complete - has ongoing commercialisation support from industry.

SIEF NSW Generation STEM program participant awareness of STEM careers and pathways in NSW

7% increase on the 2018–19 baseline

Not achieved: program behind schedule and result not yet demonstrated.

Impact evidence in narratives and evaluations demonstrating SIEF-funded challenges are creating new Australian technology-based industries and/or applied technology platforms that can reach global scale

Evidence of impact as measured through case studies

Achieved: Boat to Plate project completed – technology has high potential for impact and to reach global scale.

The SIEF Experimental Development Program

The Hydrogen Generation project provided financial support to develop a solution to convert ammonia to high-purity hydrogen at, or near, the point of use.

The support from SIEF was instrumental in realising the value-proposition of this work and facilitated the translation of knowledge to a commercial solution. The technology was scaled-up and demonstrated its potential as the critical last step in ammonia-based hydrogen distribution. The success of the project led to a collaboration with Fortescue Metals Group Ltd under a five-year agreement to fund and support our technologies, including the next stage of this work where we will build a pilot-scale generator capable of producing hydrogen at approximately 200 kilograms per day.

The Federal Government has recognised the role of hydrogen in a clean energy industry and launched the National Hydrogen Strategy to turn Australia’s hydrogen industry into a global export by 2030. With the support of SIEF, the Hydrogen Generation Experimental Development Project is contributing to the Australian national objectives and assisting Australian industry. Read more at: Hydrogen generator for refuelling fuel-cell electric vehicles and Assisting Australian industry.

Generation STEM program

Generation STEM is a 10-year initiative to attract, support and retain New South Wales (NSW) students in STEM education and skilled careers.

The first program, the STEM Community Partnerships Program, was launched in mid-2019 and has progressed as planned since then. During 2019–20, two Western Sydney councils signed up for three years and one for a six-month pilot – a total of 21 schools and 293 students. Even though the 2020 program has been significantly impacted by COVID-19, seven schools in two councils are taking part this year.

However, as a consequence of earlier delays, the Generation STEM program’s overall progress and scale to date is less than originally intended. Therefore, the outcomes have not yet been realised and sufficient data is not yet available to determine an accurate measure of change. Data collected to date will be used to establish a baseline for the Community Partnerships Program for the future.

As Generation STEM gains momentum, we hope to accelerate STEM literacy and career opportunities for students through higher levels of engagement with industry and local government, and an increased number of work-ready students transitioning into the local STEM workforce.

Creating new Australian technology based industries

The SIEF-funded Boat to Plate project developed a prototype automated species identification system, embedded within a tagging and data management system, that addresses the traceability of seafood throughout the supply chain. The innovative product offers a convenient, cost- and time-effective solution for seafood producers to monitor and manage their products. Implementing the technology will lead to enhanced seafood supply chain management, traceability and food security for industry, wholesalers and retailers that purchase Australian seafood products.

Traceability, sustainability and supply chain integrity are becoming increasingly important as consumers demand to know the provenance of their food, and if it has been sustainably harvested. Food producers and suppliers want to guarantee that their product meets consumer expectations and that the integrity of their supply chain is protected. The Australian Government wants to protect the integrity of domestic products in the global market and maintain its reputation for high-quality food products.

Boat to Plate presents an opportunity to generate billions of dollars of cost-savings associated with market inefficiencies and seafood wastage. The technology also offers significant potential for global application. It is anticipated that it will be commercialised, as industry has shown significant interest in the prototype. Read more at: Supporting food security and supply chains and From Boat to Plate.

Footnotes

  1. CSIRO Impact Evaluation Guide: www.csiro.au/About/Our-impact/Evaluating-our-impact
  2. CSIRO Marketplace: www.csiro.au/Do-business/Commercialisation/Marketplace