Science and technology have always been vital
for Australia’s economy, creating economic growth and opportunity for all
Australians. At this pivotal time in our history, the inclination is to batten
down the hatches and postpone investments or actioning new ideas while riding
out the storm. But actually, we need to double down on Australian innovation,
because science and technology guide our ship into better waters with sails
intact – it could even add an Australian‑invented carbon fibre mast for more
speed to outpace competitors.
In the past, our Aussie ingenuity has reinvented wool in the face of synthetics entering the fabric industry, it’s reinvented cotton for an Australian climate, and it’s reinvented connectivity with fast WiFi. In fact, the same expertise that reinvented wool went on to reinvent carbon fibre, securing Australia’s own secret recipe for the next‑generation material. We’ve supported existing industries to pivot, small and medium businesses to grow, and new start-ups to thrive. We’ve created jobs, built careers, and inspired generations to change the world around them through science and technology. We’ve been proud innovators.
Today more than ever, science and technology are vital to drive our recovery from the pandemic-led recession and build our future resilience. Crucially, investment in innovation can deliver both short-term shots in the arm from commercialisation of market-ready technologies, and longer-term job creation and growth from burgeoning breakthroughs and nascent new industries. COVID-19 has disrupted every element of our lives, and while the devastating loss of life can’t be understated, we do now have an opportunity – indeed, a responsibility – to determine the kind of Australia we want to emerge. This COVID-19: Recovery and resilience report brings together key insights from CSIRO’s landmark reports in recent years with the latest insights into the impact of the pandemic, to recommend a path forward for Australia. We have all the foundations to accelerate critical Australian industries by building on our world-class scientific expertise, high-value workforce, and national advantages if we make the right investments now.
This report identifies a number of growth industries, including energy, food and agribusiness, health, and mineral resources, together with underpinning capabilities like advanced manufacturing and digital technologies, where Australia has an opportunity to build on our current strengths to differentiate and lead internationally. Importantly, the report makes a case for five key foundations for this growth, from investment in science and adoption of technology; to growth of tech-based export industries; to cultural shifts needed, including workforce development, collaboration across research and industry, and stronger emphasis on triple-bottom-line outcomes. Science excellence can only be translated into national benefit when it’s surrounded by a strong innovation ecosystem of partners working together on taking solutions from science to customers in market.
As the national science agency, CSIRO is a proud advocate and catalyst for these core foundations Australia needs for social, environmental and economic benefits from its research excellence. Most recently, CSIRO launched a program of missions, designed to bolster Australia’s COVID-19 recovery and build long term resilience. CSIRO will partner with businesses, government, universities and communities to solve some of Australia’s greatest challenges through these missions, focused on outcomes that lead to positive impact, new jobs and economic growth. These missions rally Australians around big, bold, exciting ideas of what’s possible when we work together, much as the original Moon mission did many decades ago. The pandemic is testing us as a nation, but we get to decide how we respond, and what kind of Australia we want to live in as we drive our recovery and build our resilience for the next disruptions on the horizon.
Chief Executive, CSIRO