Freedom to conduct CSIRO research and technology transfer policy

Freedom to conduct CSIRO research and technology transfer policy ensures that CSIRO does not enter into arrangements which might constrain CSIRO’s ability to perform its functions.

The CSIRO Science and Delivery policy states CSIRO is committed to conducting world class scientific and industrial research consistent with its roles and functions as outlined in the Science and Industry Research Act 1949 (SIR Act) .

The purpose of the Freedom to Conduct CSIRO Research and Technology Transfer policy is to ensure that CSIRO does not enter into arrangements which might constrain CSIRO’s ability to perform its functions.

It is CSIRO policy that:

Statement 1

CSIRO must not enter into arrangements which constrain CSIRO’s current or future ability to perform its functions, including its ability to conduct scientific research, transfer technology, collaborate, form commercial relationships, communicate research findings and inform public policy.

Constraint arrangements are considered inappropriate if they would limit in any way CSIRO’s capability to create benefits for Australia by preventing CSIRO, or significant parts of the Organisation, from conducting research or technology transfer in particular areas of science or technology.

Statement 1(A)

Exceptions to Policy Statement 1 require review and approval by the Chief Executive or delegate.

In undertaking that review the Chief Executive or delegate must take into consideration Policy Statement 1 and the following principles:

  • A constraint may be appropriate where the constraint implements a bona fide commercial interest of a contractual counterparty (ie the other party to the contract) and:
    • Does not extend, either in its time period or scope, beyond what would reasonably be necessary to create an incentive for the counterparty to invest in the research or put the results of the research into practice for the benefit of Australia; and
    • In cases that relate to intellectual property exclusively licensed to a counterparty, CSIRO retains a freedom to operate licence for its own research activities.
  • A constraint may be appropriate where the constraint is necessary to implement an arrangement under which CSIRO would complement the research or technology transfer role of one or more other entities; the time period of the constraint is short and its scope narrow; and the arrangement would make it possible for CSIRO to generate substantial benefits for Australia which would otherwise be unavailable.

Statement 1(B)

Constraints imposed on CSIRO which are explicitly or implicitly ethical in nature must not be accepted without the specific approval of the Chief Executive, who should consult the Board on sensitive matters.

For the purposes of this policy, ethical constraints are those based on the moral, religious, political or philosophical considerations of the other party.

They do not include constraints embodied in laws which apply to CSIRO (such as restraints on human cloning or the creation of genetically modified organisms – see Policy Statement 1(C)).

An ethical constraint must not be accepted by a delegate even if it would not directly affect work intended to be done under the relevant contract, grant or other arrangement.

Statement 1(C)

Constraint arrangements may be appropriate if the constraint is:

  • Consistent with, and does not extend beyond, any legislative prohibition which applies to CSIRO, or
  • Part of a Government regulatory process, or
  • Directed by the Minister.

This policy applies to:

  • Research contracts and collaborations;
  • Technology transfer and commercialisation agreements;
  • Joint ventures;
  • Acceptance of grants, gifts, and bequests; and
  • All other arrangements between CSIRO and outside entities.


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