CSIRO inks multi-million dollar deal with Google on clean energy, AI


Denham Sadler
National Affairs Editor

Australia’s national science agency has scored a five-year, multi-million dollar partnership with Google to work on national missions around clean energy and artificial intelligence.

The partnership is a key element of Google’s $1 billion Digital Future Initiative, revealed on Tuesday morning, and will see the tech giant and CSIRO partnering to solve local and global issues.

CSIRO CEO Dr Larry Marshall spoke at the launch event at Google’s new Sydney office, saying the two organisations will work together on the “seemingly impossible trifecta of sustainable and societal benefit at the same time as profits”.

“Australia is at a pivotal point and is facing profound challenges as a nation seek to build back better and more resilient after the pandemic but also to seize the opportunities that change always brings and where Australia can lead on the world stage,” Dr Marshall said.

“Google’s investment in Australian science will supercharge this emerging innovation ecosystem, which is passionate and world class, but is small and fragmented. And that’s hindering our nation’s ability to deliver real solutions from science. We’re both focused on using science and technology to change the rules of the game.”

CSIRO CEO Dr Larry Marshall

The exact size of Google’s contribution to the partnership has not been released, but Dr Marshallsaid it is a “multi-million dollar” deal which will run across five years.

As part of the deal, Google will work with CSIRO on some of its national missions, including on clean energy and protecting the Great Barrier Reef. The organisations will also be working on artificial intelligence technologies.

It’s not the first time CSIRO has worked with Google, with a previous collaboration focusing on stopping the mosquito plague in malaria and zika-infested areas.

“Imagine what other seemingly impossible problems we’ll solve together by putting our heads together. CSIRO science partnered with Google’s tech can make amazing things happen,” Dr Marshall said.

“The seeds we plant today will inspire the next generation of great minds to grow here and to stay here. We’ll create new technology partnerships to help solve Australian and global challenges, working with the CSIRO team to explore clean energy and protecting the Great Barrier Reef. We look forward to standing with Google to launch more of these bold missions.”

CSIRO has launched a number of national missions this year, including around the hydrogen industry, climate change, the transition to net-zero emissions and critical energy metals.

As part of the new digital initiative, Google will also be partnering with Macquarie University on quantum computing research.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison also spoke at the Google event, and welcomed the collaboration with CSIRO.

“It will bring more STEM jobs to our shores across engineering, computing science and AI. This is tremendously exciting, as well as partnerships with the CSIRO and Australian universities, enabling important research breakthroughs and encouraging the best Australian talent to stay on Australian soil,” Mr Morrison said.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

1 Comment
  1. Digtal Koolaid 2 weeks ago
    Reply

    LNP govenments since the Abbott regime have systematically de-funded the CSIRO and GERD generally. Look at this graph to see that the periods of less funding are LNP governments (https://images.theconversation.com/files/127460/original/image-20160621-16064-10chpg9.png). This de-funding forces the CSIRO to beg money from private sources. Morrison can talk this up all he likes but you can think better. Why is our leading R&D institution forced to get money from the likes of Google? Will it be Facebook next? How is it that the Commonwealth, that can splash cash on submarines (and the penalties for breaking contracts) pushes the CSIRO into the arms of a foreign corporation? Then Morrison has the balls to give a speech about how he won’t fund the CSIRO correctly? In the speech he mentioned Australian universities, which the LNP has been waging war on since before JobKeeper. The whole thing is badly broken and needs a new government. Check that graph again and see where funding was increased – then vote the peaks.

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