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Foreword by the Chairman

It has been challenging on so many fronts this year – bushfires, floods and the pandemic. As we look towards recovery and building resilience, the importance of Australia’s national science agency has never been clearer. CSIRO’s science excellence, broad partnerships, and talented people continue to deliver innovative solutions that protect our quality of life, our economic health, and our environmental sustainability through this difficult time. We continue to invest for our brighter future.

An image of David Thodey wearing a blue shirt and a dark blue suit jacket. He is standing with his arms folded smiling at the camera
Mr David Thodey AO

I am extremely proud of the contribution CSIRO has made to Australia this year, which has ranged from vaccine development and outbreak management through to bushfire response and economic recovery. CSIRO’s people have risen to these challenges without hesitation, while continuing their important work across the full research portfolio, including climate change, agriculture, health and wellbeing, cyber security, and in applying emerging technologies like artificial intelligence to increase the pace and scale of our impact.

On 13 February this year, the Minister issued a new Statement of Expectations for CSIRO, which we responded to with a Statement of Intent reaffirming our commitment to solving the greatest challenges for Australia and providing comment from the Board on how we will do this.

It is a privilege for us all to serve our nation through outstanding science and research. As the national science agency, we will continue to deliver on our core mission to deliver science impact for the whole nation – working collaboratively across the research system and with industry, government, and universities, both in Australia and globally.

We are focusing our science in areas that are aligned with government priorities: the digital economy; working collaboratively to advance Australian industry; building small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) engagement; encouraging access to national research infrastructure; promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers and equity; and facilitating the translation of research and commercialisation of outcomes.

We are committed to using science to guide our investments in securing Australia’s future prosperity, as outlined in our Australian National Outlook 2019.

This annual report tells many stories about the value we have delivered to partners and customers this year, particularly as they too adapt to this changing landscape. What I hope you sense through this report is the dedication, collaborative spirit and integrity of our CSIRO colleagues – something that we experience every day when we work with them. I want to thank them for their efforts, which have gone above and beyond our expectations, to deliver excellent and impactful science when it is needed most.

As Australia contemplates a very different outlook after the events of this year, CSIRO has shared plans of a new missions program to bolster Australia’s COVID-19 recovery and build long-term resilience. The program of large-scale, major scientific and collaborative research initiatives will be aimed at solving some of Australia’s greatest challenges, focused on outcomes that lead to positive impact, new jobs and economic growth. These challenges cannot be met by CSIRO alone, so the missions program will bring together government, universities, industry and the community to develop the program.

CSIRO is not immune from the economic impact of COVID-19, and the Board is preparing for a revenue shortfall in the next financial year. This annual report demonstrates the strong scientific and financial foundation from which we can explore new opportunities.

I am confident that CSIRO will endure for another 100 years as we evolve and adapt to the changing environment. I look forward to CSIRO continuing to shape and guide Australia’s recovery effort as we build a new and bright future for our economy.

an image of David Thodey's signature

Mr David Thodey AO
Chairman of the CSIRO Board