CSIRO to open five US offices

Graeme Philipson

Australia’s government-owned science and research agency CSIRO is to open an office in the US, in the San Francisco Bay area, by July. It will be supplemented by smaller offices in Houston, Chicago, Seattle and Washington DC.

The announcement was made by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop as part of the G’Day USA promotion over the weekend. “The offices will promote Australian innovation and drive scientific and industrial engagement in the US,” said Ms Bishop.

“They will work closely with research, industry and business partners to bring Australia’s cutting-edge capabilities to the US marketplace.”

She said the new offices will support the Turnbull Government’s NISA (National Innovation and Science Agenda) announced in December 2015 and follows the February 2016 launch of an Aussie innovation Landing Pad in San Francisco (with others now also in Berlin, Tel Aviv, Shanghai and Singapore).

Ms Bishop said the US presence would capitalise on CSIRO’s existing strong relationships with US scientific research bodies and companies such as NASA, Chevron, Bayer and Boeing.

It is not CSIRO’s first international office. That distinction belongs to CSIRO Chile, which was set up in 2011 to cooperate on mining technology. It is based in the capital Santiago, with a ‘northern node’ in the mining centre of Antofagasta.

CSIRO also has a laboratory near Montpelier in France, which concentrates on agricultural research.

Global growth is one of the aims of CSIRO’s Strategy 2020 released by CEO Dr Larry Marshall in 2015 and which talks of “delivering connectivity to the global science, technology and innovation frontier, and new customers and markets for Australian innovation and national benefit.”

Dr Marshall is no stranger to the San Francisco Bay area, where he spent 26 years and founded six startups, mostly based on laser technology.

He is the holder of 20 US patents. A PhD graduate of Macquarie University, he returned to Australia in 2015 after his long Silicon Valley career to run the CSIRO.

“To accelerate innovation rates in Australia, we need to accelerate international engagement, especially in regions where there is a significant opportunity to return value to Australia,” he said after Julie Bishop’s announcement, which he attended while in the US.

“From this point of view, the US is a no-brainer. Our focus is firmly on bringing benefit back to Australia.

“That philosophy will be applied to everything we do in the US. We’re looking forward to igniting Aussie innovation in such an exciting, dynamic market.”

A CSIRO spokesperson told InnovationAus.com that 70 per cent of CSIRO’s international revenue comes from partnerships with US based organisations, and that 10 per cent US Fortune 500 companies have worked with CSIRO.

There were 682 joint-publications with US organisations in 2015, or 11 per cent of CSIRO’s total co-publication output, making the US CSIRO’s largest publication partner.

The main office in San Francisco will be supported by satellite offices and CSIRO team members in Houston, Chicago, Washington DC and Seattle.

  • Houston for energy, manufacturing and oceans and atmosphere. CSIRO has had a relationship with NASA for more than 50 years, from first pictures of the moon being beamed to Parkes through to today’s partnerships using UAVs (drones) to map the Great Barrier Reef.
  • Chicago for agriculture and food, health, biosecurity, and manufacturing – to be located adjacent to Austrade.
  • Seattle for aeronautical engineering with Boeing.
  • Washington DC will work alongside the Australian Embassy

CSIRO Global general manager Nigel Warren said a US office will help put Australian breakthroughs at the centre of the world’s research and technology frontier.

“Australia’s capacity to bring world-leading technologies to the market is unquestionable, but we need to realise that potential at scale. CSIRO US will provide a gateway to a market with big economic potential.

“CSIRO will support the Australian government and partner with the research sector and business – playing the role of Australia’s innovation catalyst on a global scale.

“This means we can amplify the impact of CSIRO technology and open the door for other Australian researchers, businesses and start-ups to realise more commercial value from their great innovations by taking them into a bigger market.”

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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