Turner departs CSIRO’s Data61

James Riley
Editorial Director

Data61’s inaugural CEO Adrian Turner will leave the CSIRO’s data arm next month after four years in the top job.

CSIRO announced on Friday morning that Mr Turner had handed in his resignation and will be leaving Data61 on 12 September to establish a new venture.

Mr Turner was appointed to the role in late 2015 when Data61 was established after NICTA was merged with CSIRO. He has been a member of the organisation’s executive leadership team since.

“Adrian Turner has made a significant contribution to CSIRO and Australia in understanding and harnessing the opportunities that digital and data science can deliver. Our relationship will continue beyond Data61, with CSIRO and Adrian exploring how we can work together on the new venture,” CSIRO chief executive Larry Marshall said in a statement.

Australia’s national science agency will now be conducting a “global search” for Mr Turner’s replacement.

During Mr Turner’s tenure, Data61 was tasked with driving innovation in Australia and has established itself as the country’s leading voice on digital and data science.

Mr Turner, a prominent tech entrepreneur, spent 18 years in Silicon Valley before returning to Australia to take on the top role at Data61.

He co-founded Borondi Group, a holding company based in the US that is building a “global portfolio of operating assets that leverage platform economics and pervasive computing to disrupt traditionally conservative industries”.

He also co-founded and served as CEO of Internet of Things firm Mocana Corporation, which provides software to protect military aircraft, vehicles and devices.

Mr Turner is also the co-chair of industry growth centre AustCyber, the chair of Advance Global Australians and a member of the board of directors for the Australian eHealth Research Centre.

Along with his board roles, Mr Turner is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Digital Economy and Society and also a member of the Genomics Health Futures Mission Steering Committee.

Mr Turner led Data61 through major structural changes, transferring it into more of a network than an institution. The agency provides horizontal domain expertise in digital and data science applicable to other CSIRO research units.

 Data61 now has 550 researchers on staff along with a network of researchers and PhD students from its 32 partner universities. It has more than 260 research projects on the go.

In recent years Data61 has focused some of its efforts on investigating the potential of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and blockchain, leading national research on these issues.

Mr Turner previously called on Australia to lead in blockchain adoption rather than be a laggard. He has also pushed for the country to build sovereign capabilities in artificial intelligence in an effort to drive competitive advantage in other industries.

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