Innovation Fuels the World

Thursday 29 August 2019 

Article by Jerad Ford, Manger Innovation Services, CSIRO Futures - The strategic advisory arm of Australia’s Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)

For over 100 years, CSIRO has been solving the greatest challenges through innovative science and technology. CSIRO created Australia’s first computer (1949). We invented plastic banknotes (1978) and commercialised them 10 years later (1988). Perhaps our most famous innovation success is the technology that led to the development of Wi-Fi (1996).

Strong as ever, today we are solving important global challenges such as food security and quality, clean energy and resources, health and wellbeing, and more. With this broad spectrum, our scientists work across industries including Agriculture, Health, Energy, Minerals, Manufacturing, Space and Environmental Research. 
We bring all of this expertise to our partnerships with industry, government, and academia to deliver solutions that make life better for everyone.

Making an impact 

Innovation is about solving the challenges (and capitalising on the opportunities) offered by megatrends—societal shifts that play out on a global scale. This is no easy feat which is why we developed our very own accelerator, ON to bring emerging science out of the laboratory and into the real-world faster. 

The ON accelerator established in 2017 is Australia’s national deep-tech accelerator, taking teams from CSIRO, universities and the public research sector through an intensive program to develop their technologies into impactful products with viable business models. 

The program is growing a culture of entrepreneurship among Australian researchers and each year, our graduating cohort visits our US office who meet with potential US customers and partners. Since its inception, there have been over 30 new Companies formed with 11 raising over AUD$20.1M of investment capital.  

Now we are taking this accelerator capability directly to businesses to help them collaboratively solve tough innovation challenges.

Longstanding partnerships 

Today our work is as diverse as the challenges the world throws at us, but we never do it alone. We work with all Australian universities, all government departments, all major Australian industries, and of course, many international partners. 

Globally, we have 2,400 customers including 1000 SMEs, 488 international customers, 311 government departments and 355 large corporates. This includes 49 of the US Fortune 500. 

CSIRO’s partnerships with the US stretch back to the early 1960s. We’ve worked with NASA for more than 50 years, Boeing for more than 30 years, and GE for nearly a decade. And we’ve seen a growing appetite in the States for what Australia has to offer up. 

Our expanded global presence makes it easy to connect. Our US operations are headquartered in Silicon Valley, and we have a presence in other major US cities including Seattle, Chicago, and Washington DC. Internationally we have offices in Chile, Singapore, and Jakarta.

Australia’s innovation catalyst 

If we can’t solve your innovation problem, we can find someone who can. 

One way we do this is through our Enterprise Innovation Service—a world-class innovation system for hire. As part of this offering CSIRO can run open innovation contests that directly tap into Australia’s entire university and research institute network. We are doing this now with leading global companies and making real impact.

Australia is a small nation and we bat above our weight in science excellence – but a small nation must partner with others to compete on the world stage. 

Our nation’s shared values and vision for an innovation-driven future will see us tackle challenges that make a positive impact on all of society. 


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