The CSIRO has a masterplan to get Australia's science breakthroughs developed faster

Bolt out of the blue, Peter Enright, Coolum Beach, Queensland. Highly commended submission of the 2014 Australian Museum New Scientist Eureka Prize for Science Photography.

Australia’s peak science body, the CSIRO, has released a new master plan to improve innovation, and to help deal with global changes and digital disruption.

The strategy for 2015 to 2020 outlines how the CSIRO will become a global collaboration hub.

“Australia currently ranks 81st in the world when it comes to innovation efficiency – the bang for our buck we get when we transform innovation investment into results,” says CSIRO chief executive Larry Marshall.

“If that was a team sport ranking, we’d be outraged. As a country, we need to work together to improve this result.”

The the 90-year-old science body is Australia’s largest patent holder and are the people behind fast Wi-Fi, part of the global team which developed extended-wear contact lenses and the designers of the Hendra vaccine.

For its strategy review, the CSIRO crowd-sourced ideas and suggestions from more than 7000 people including research partners, other collaborators, its own staff and the public.

“At the core of the strategy is the need for CSIRO to be a catalyst for change and growth in the innovation system in Australia. Innovation is a team sport,” says Dr Marshall.

“We must form new bonds and collaborate across disciplines, sectors, science and business. That is where profound innovation happens – at the intersection of these areas.

“We must also be asking who our customers are and if we’re creating the value that they need. We work with businesses, industry, governments and communities and we need to find ways to benefit every Australian.”

One of the greatest challenges for Australia has been the difficult road for inventions and technology to go from an idea to then being in the hands of the public.

“To help, we have formed the CSIRO ON program – an initiative to fast track CSIRO technology and ideas into the market and to get it into people’s hands more quickly,” Dr Marshall says.

“This is what we call breakthrough innovation where we will help reinvent existing industries and create new ones.”

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