CSIRO sets sights on new 'Team Australia' missions program

CSIRO Head Office

Thursday, 13 August, 2020

CSIRO sets sights on new 'Team Australia' missions program

CSIRO has announced it will work with the government, universities, industry and the community on 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. CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall said the collaboration and goodwill stimulated by the response to COVID-19 can be harnessed and used to accelerate our recovery, create new jobs and stimulate the economy.

“While COVID-19 will undoubtedly continue to disrupt, Australia will come together through this crisis and build a strong future in the process. We are calling for partners to join this Team Australia approach to solving what seem like unsolvable problems,” he said.

On the centenary of CSIRO’s first mission, to eliminate prickly pear, it will direct $100 million annually to the co-creation of missions, working with the brightest minds across the research sector and industry, to help Australia achieve these outcomes:

  • Increase our resilience and preparedness against pandemics.
  • Mitigate the impact of disasters: drought, bushfires and floods.
  • Create a hydrogen industry to generate a new clean energy export industry.
  • Accelerate the transition to agile manufacturing for higher revenue and sovereign supply.
  • Use technology to navigate Australia’s transition to net zero emissions, without derailing our economy.
  • Create new industries that transform raw mineral commodities into unique higher-value products like critical energy metals that build Australia’s value-added offering, jobs and sovereign supply.
  • Overcome our growing resistance to antibiotics, so they keep saving lives.
  • Create a national climate platform to navigate climate change uncertainty.
  • Help our farmers overcome drought, mitigate climate impacts, increase yield and profitability, create a sustainable Future Protein Industry and leverage the world’s love of Australian-grown food to collectively drive our trusted agriculture and food exports to $100 billion.
  • Safeguard the health of our waterways by monitoring the quality of our water resources from space.
  • End plastic waste by reinventing the way plastic is made, processed and recycled.
  • Double the number of small and medium businesses (SMEs) benefiting from Australian science to become a collaboration nation.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews welcomed CSIRO’s continued commitment to solving real-world problems.

“Science and technology are our greatest tools when it comes to maximising opportunities and addressing the challenges that face Australia at this time of great upheaval,” she said. “We need to make sure that our scientists and researchers are working collaboratively with industry to solve real-world challenges for the benefit of everyday Australians.”

David Thodey AO, Chair of CSIRO, said: “The CSIRO Board fully endorses this mission-led strategy and is committed to supporting the talented scientists and researchers at CSIRO, our universities and business partners to work together on these challenges for the good of our nation in these challenging times.”

Dr Marshall said CSIRO was drawing on its 100-year history to develop the missions with its partners across science and industry, to support the nation at a tough time.

“For over a century we have worked with scientists around the country to solve our greatest challenges, and find the opportunities that give Australia her competitive advantage,” he said. “From our first mission to save our agricultural land from prickly pear, to discovering breakthroughs like fast Wi-Fi, Australia’s first digital computer, our 70-year history in battling bushfires and our latest vaccine, virus and surgical mask work for COVID-19, CSIRO has always made Australia’s success our mission.”

Dr Alan Finkel, Australia's Chief Scientist said: “Great science starts with a vision, but vision alone is insufficient. The vision has to be backed by real commitment. That’s what the CSIRO missions are all about, and I hope their rallying call is heard far and wide.”

Organisations and institutions interested in learning more about the missions program, or partnering with CSIRO, can visit www.csiro.au/missions to learn more.

Image: Breakthroughs in hydrogen research can underpin a new industry.

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