The Government is preparing to reset the statement of expectations that will govern the CSIRO’s operation over the next 20 years.
Speaking at a CSIRO gala dinner, the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Greg Hunt said that his aspiration was “for CSIRO to become the world’s premier public research institution.”
“As we celebrate CSIRO’s 100th anniversary, we also need to position it for the future,” Hunt said.
“I want CSIRO to become the world’s premier public research institution. This is an ambitious goal - but it is achievable over the coming decade.”
The foundation piece of work in this journey is a “new and elevated statement of expectations”, which Hunt has begun work on with CSIRO and the scientific community.
“The new statement, along with existing legislation, will emphasise the importance of pure public research,” Hunt said.
“The statement will form the basis of CSIRO’s future work” over the next two decades, he said.
“I have already written to key stakeholders and members of the scientific community seeking their input into the development of this new statement,” he added.
“I want to ensure that Australia gets the maximum benefit possible from CSIRO’s research, and this will only be possible if leaders from across the scientific community have a stake.”
With a statement set, Hunt indicated a series of other measures that could be implemented to set CSIRO on its next scientific course.
“[For example], I want to work with CSIRO to consider how best we can engage with the young scientific community to give greater life to the organisation over the next century,” Hunt said.
Already, CSIRO is setting future research priorities in “blue sky” domains including environomics, synthetic biology, deep earth imaging, digiscape, probing biosystems and active integrated matter.
Known as ‘future science platforms’, they will be backed initially with $17 million over the next year, with funding increasing to $52 million a year by 2020.
Hunt said the platforms will “position Australia at the cutting edge of our next wave of big science infrastructure.”
“We’re seriously excited about CSIRO’s next chapter and how we’re investing in Australia’s science future,” CSIRO CEO Dr Larry Marshall said.
“The platforms fuel deeper collaboration across disciplines as we tackle things that haven’t been done before, which is exactly what we need to stay ahead of accelerating global disruption of all kinds from economic to environmental.”
CSIRO describes the six future platforms as:
Unlocking genetic and other knowledge from our vast species biodiversity so we can preserve and manage ecosystems under environmental change, better manage economically useful species, detect biosecurity threats and create new products based on previously unknown biological data.
The design, fabrication, and construction of new biological parts, devices, systems, and machines, as well as the re-design of existing biological systems for useful purposes. Synthetic biology enables revolutionary advances in cellular factories, designer organisms and biological devices.
Deep Earth Imaging
Discovering the previously undiscovered minerals, energy and water resources that lie deep under the earth or sea. The science of Deep Earth Imaging will help us more precisely image subsurface geology to unlock the potential of this vast and relatively under-explored area.
Helping agricultural industries to be more productive and providing more valuable knowledge to environmental policy makers through a new generation of decision tools. Using sensors, data visualisation, artificial intelligence and assisted decision making to generate timely and relevant advice and insights will allow better choices for more productive and sustainable outcomes.
A revolution in healthcare and agriculture through devices and systems to obtain real-time information from living organisms about their health and well-being. This will lead to the ability to provide health and medical interventions that are timely, customised and highly specific.
Active Integrated Matter
Reinventing fields as diverse as manufacturing, agriculture, emergency services, infrastructure and mining through combining advanced materials, robotics, sensing technologies, data processing and autonomous capabilities. New forms of autonomous robots will operate safely in dangerous environments while smart materials will enable new types of customised and personalised products and services.