Our performance against the planned activities within our Strategy.

Table 2.1: Performance Summary Against our Strategy Objectives
Criteria source: Corporate Plan 2015–16
Performance criterion Result against performance criterion

Evidence of progress towards, and delivery of, impact objectives based on mixed-method evaluation, including external review outcomes, independently validated impact studies, verifiable evidence of uptake and adoption, and periodical whole-of-CSIRO impact assessments

CSIRO conducted eight externally validated impact assessments, in Manufacturing, Agriculture, and Oceans and Atmosphere, demonstrating significant economic, environmental and social impacts. Net present values (NPVs) totalled approximately $1 billion. A comprehensive assessment of impact is also conducted in Business Unit Reviews. Although reviews were deferred in 2015–16, due to organisational change effects, four reviews are scheduled in 2017.

Maintain our customer satisfaction using our Customer Willingness to Recommend net promoter score, maintaining a result above 8

Starting in 2015–16, CSIRO adopted the industry benchmark Net Promoter Score (NPS) methodology to assess customer satisfaction, as the existing ‘Customer Willingness to Recommend’ score was found to be a less effective and reliable measure to report. The NPS for 2015–16 is +11, a favourable result.

Increase the number of active technology licences from our research over base year 2014–15

The total number of active licences recorded as at 30 June 2016 was 347, which is an increase of 25% or 71 active licences more than the previous year.

Increase external revenue, particularly from industry and international sources, as a per cent of total expenditure from 38% to 45% by 2019–20

The external revenue result for 2015–16 is 36.4% of total expenditure. A review of the forward trajectory is recommended to ensure alignment with approved budget and strategic priorities.

Increase internal and external collaboration through the assessment of staff mobility across Business Units and our external engagement with industry and other stakeholders

External collaboration is trending upwards by approximately 2%, based on 3–5 year rolling averages, with increased rates of supervision of higher degree students by CSIRO researchers and rates of co-publication with external partners, while inclusion of external capability in CSIRO projects through sub-contracting has reduced slightly.

Internal mobility and collaboration is stable, with 11% of full-time equivalent (FTE) of staff capacity deployed outside of their program areas.

Increase the diversity of our leadership cohort, including gender, non-English speaking background, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

The representation of women in middle to senior leadership roles across CSIRO has increased from 28% last year to 29% in 2015–16. Engagement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has increased from 1.2% to 1.8%, and the percentage of staff of non-English speaking background remains unchanged at 20.6%.

Increase our innovation capacity across all staff cohorts over the base year of 2015–16, as evidenced by results from the CSIRO staff survey

CSIRO did not undertake an all-staff survey in 2015–16 and therefore a measure of our innovation capacity is not available. We undertook an all-staff survey in July 2016, and the result will be reported in CSIRO’s annual performance statements for 2016–17. The AcceleratiON Program successfully launched this year and offers insights into the evolution of our culture and activity towards innovation.

Increase staff safety via ‘Zero Harm’ policy of continuous improvement of Recordable Injury Frequency Rate (RIFR) to improve on baseline RIFR of 14.3 per million hours as at 30 June 2015

In 2015–16 we had a RIFR of 10.3 per million hours worked, which represents a drop of 30% compared with our baseline at 30 June 2015.

Increase our investment in future science and technology platforms to 250% of FY2015 budget, including capability development and central competitive funds

In 2015–16, our investment in future science was 88% of the 2014–15 amount. Investment in ResearchPlus programs to attract, support and develop early- and mid-career researchers was maintained. The intention to increase investment in new Future Science Platforms (FSPs) was deferred to allow a comprehensive process for identifying and prioritising the new FSP portfolio with all staff.

Analysis of performance

CSIRO developed its Strategy 2020 in concurrence with the Minister’s Statement of Expectations from 2015. Focusing the strategy upon innovation, impact from excellent science, and working with business to translate research outputs into commercial outcomes directly responds to the Australian Industry Innovation Competitiveness Agenda.

Our achievements this year were delivered in a tough external revenue environment. To support the organisation achieving its longer term strategic objectives, this year Business Units undertook ‘Deep Dive’ sessions with the Executive Team, an additional planning process linked to our investment decision framework.

We have implemented and communicated our strategy, as well as our investment and disinvestment processes. We have identified areas for improvement in this process and are taking action for the changes needed. Remaining focused on our core purpose, vision and mission has greatly assisted us to demonstrate actions and achievement towards our goals.

In order to maximise funding sources, members of the national innovation system, including CSIRO, must improve their agility by growing sources of revenue from non-government, and specifically international, customers. It is also essential to reduce ‘red tape’ through continual and coordinated improvements to organisational operating models.

Evidence of economic, social and environmental impacts through demonstrated uptake and adoption of research outputs

The evidence for impacts from CSIRO activities is obtained from a mixed methods approach, including results from Business Unit reviews and impact case studies, which are conducted via independent assessments. CSIRO did not conduct any Business Unit reviews this year due to the organisational focus on the new processes and structures required to support the delivery of the strategic objectives. Reviews will re-commence in 2017, with four reviews scheduled.

This year, eight independent assessments of projects from Agriculture, Manufacturing, and Oceans and Atmosphere were conducted1. The analyses were undertaken using the CSIRO impact evaluation methodology2. Net present values (NPVs), under a seven per cent real discount rate, totalled approximately $1 billion. Examples demonstrating significant economic, environmental and social impacts are below:

The assessment of the Atlantic salmon breeding program demonstrated economic impacts. Atlantic salmon is the highest valued commercial fishery in Tasmania. To ensure sustainable growth in the industry, CSIRO collaborated with Salmon Enterprises of Tasmania Pty Ltd on a seven-year research and development (R&D) co-investment project to establish a selective breeding program in 2004. Based on conservative assumptions, the NPV of the salmon breeding program is approximately $169 million, with $78 million attributable to CSIRO.

Economic and social impacts are demonstrated through the assessment of CSIRO’s cereal rust research, which is part of the Australian Cereal Rust Control Program funded by the Grains Research and Development Corporation. Rust diseases are a global threat that can only be countered by the development of rust-resistant varieties. At present, 60 per cent of about 100 wheat cultivars grown in Australia have resistance genes that are tagged by CSIRO-developed markers. The improved capacity of growers to prevent rust epidemics is likely to contribute to greater stability in production and, at a national level, a higher level of food security. The conservative estimate of the NPV of CSIRO’s rust research for the wheat industry is $382 million – $290 million of that is attributable to CSIRO.

Economic and environmental impacts derived from CSIRO research are also illustrated in the assessment of the eReefs project. The eReefs information platform is a marine modelling system built to inform decisions about managing the Great Barrier Reef. The issues that eReefs can help manage include the quality of water, hydrodynamics conditions for navigating safely or responding to an incident, and the likely occurrence or spread of ecological pests. The eReefs project is a collaboration between the Great Barrier Reef Foundation (whose funders include: BHP Billiton, Mitsubishi, and the Australian and Queensland governments), the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), CSIRO, the Australian Institute of Marine Science and the Queensland Government. Based on conservative assumptions, the NPV of benefits from the project by 2025–26 is estimated at about $80 million.

Maintain our customer satisfaction

During 2015, CSIRO undertook a review of the current ‘Customer Willingness to Recommend’ methodology. It was found that the measure was not an effective indicator to report and the Board agreed to shift to the industry benchmark Net Promoter Score (NPS) methodology. The NPS for 2015–16 is +11, a favourable result5.

The survey results show that customers trust CSIRO and feel that our staff are empathetic, ethical, professional and honest. This is good news, given the changes we have instigated in the year. According to our customers, CSIRO’s strengths are empathy, trust, reliability and excellence. The quality of our science is second to none; we are innovative and committed to customer needs.

The survey also identified opportunities for improvement, including maintaining our capability and improving competitiveness, contractual and intellectual property (IP) processes, which are already underway as a specific focus of our Strategy 2020 customer-first initiative.

Increase the number of active technology licences

Active technology licences are used as a key indicator of R&D uptake and adoption by customers and collaborators. The total number of active licences recorded as at 30 June 2016 was 347, which is an increase of 25 per cent, or 71 active licences, more than 2014–15. This includes 125 patent licences, 111 copyright licences, 50 know-how licences and 34 Plant Breeder’s Rights. The reported result is an aggregate count of all executed IP licences currently in force, including both revenue- and non-revenue generating agreements and indirect licences. Of these 347 licences, over the last three years, 146 have generated revenue. For details of our IP portfolio, see Program 1.1: Intellectual property.

Increase external revenue

The total external revenue was in line with the budget, delivering revenue from industry, government and international customers of 36.4 per cent of total expenditure. The moderated emphasis on external earnings does vary noticeably from the aspiration to derive funding for 39 per cent of expenses from external sources this year and represents a focus on sustainability during a year of transition into the new strategic context. A review of the forward trajectory is recommended to ensure alignment with approved budget and strategic priorities.

Increase internal and external collaboration

The external collaboration metric is based on formal publications, project contracts and research student connections. The increase of two per cent from the previous year is anticipated to continue as new initiatives stimulate collaboration by increasing co-supervision of research students and drawing more research capability into CSIRO-led projects from other research agencies. Internal mobility and collaboration, as assessed through staff deployment outside of their program areas, is stable, with 11 per cent FTE deployed outside their program areas.

CSIRO is Australia’s largest producer of research publications in food and agribusiness.

Joint research publications

Our number of collaborative publications has more than doubled since 2006. In 2015, 89 per cent of our publications were collaborations with authors from other institutions, and 64 per cent were produced with authors from other Australian institutions. We have also significantly increased the rate of collaboration with organisations overseas, as measured by the number of joint publications. In 2015, 55 per cent of our scientific publications were co-authored with an international author.

Science alignment with industry sectors

The Industry Growth Centres Initiative is an industry-led approach to focus science and research in key areas with the aim of delivering commercial outcomes. This initiative covers six industry sectors:

  • Food and Agribusiness
  • Mining Equipment, Technology and Services
  • Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals
  • Oil, Gas and Energy Resources
  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Cyber Security.

CSIRO’s output in Australian research is as follows, using publications as a metric for output:

Food and agribusiness

In terms of research publications in food and agribusiness, CSIRO is Australia’s largest producer and contributes to 16 per cent of Australia’s publications output. This sector represents a significant proportion (15 per cent) of CSIRO R&D activities. CSIRO’s food and agribusiness research is of outstanding quality and is 88 per cent more cited than the world average. CSIRO is ranked first in Australia for patent output.

Mining equipment, technology and services

CSIRO is Australia’s largest producer of research publications in this field, and represents 14 per cent of the country’s total output. The sector represents nine per cent of the CSIRO’s total output. CSIRO research in this sector is good, and is 36 per cent more cited than the global average. We are ranked third in Australia for patent output.

Medical technologies and pharmaceuticals

This is a minor sector for CSIRO and we are not highly ranked in terms of Australian publication output. CSIRO is ranked third in Australia for patent output, despite this being a minor field for CSIRO and a major one for Australia.

Oil, gas and energy resources

While this sector is a relatively minor area for CSIRO (three per cent), our contribution to Australian output is the largest (13 per cent). Therefore, CSIRO’s contribution to this sector is critical. CSIRO’s research in this sector is of strong quality and is 52 per cent more cited than the world average. It is ranked first in Australia for patent output.

Advanced manufacturing

CSIRO is the fourth-largest producer of advanced manufacturing research publications in Australia and contributes 10 per cent of the country’s output. This sector is a significant proportion (11 per cent) of CSIRO’s R&D activities. CSIRO’s research quality is good, and is 46 per cent more cited than the world average.


CSIRO is the seventh-largest producer of cyber security research publications in Australia, contributing six per cent of the country’s output. This sector represents four per cent of CSIRO’s R&D activities. The organisation’s cyber security output is good quality, and is 34 per cent more cited than the world average.

University collaboration

CSIRO partners with universities to ensure the best available research is used to deliver impact in areas of national priority. In 2015–16, CSIRO worked with 39 Australian universities in a range of activities. These universities were partners in 55 per cent of CSIRO’s research publications and, in partnership with the universities, CSIRO supervised 801 postgraduate research students. Other highlights are:

We developed a new multipurpose fabric with researchers from Queensland University of Technology and RMIT University. The fabric, which is covered with semi-conducting nanostructures, is able to repel water while, at the same time, attracting oil. Testing showed that it is effective at mopping up crude oil from the surface of both fresh and salt water.

We jointly discovered a molecule that enables bone marrow stem cell collection from the blood within an hour – a process that, with current best practice, normally takes several days. CSIRO scientists worked within the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute at Monash University on the molecule. The collected donor stem cells can be used to treat leukaemia patients. This research is now being progressed towards clinical trials.

In 2015-16, two teams with participants from four universities participated in the CSIRO accelerator program, AcceleratiON. From July 2016, CSIRO will expand AcceleratiON to all Australian universities and Commonwealth publicly funded research agencies. This will be an opportunity to build deep collaboration between researchers, entrepreneurs, investors, start-ups and established companies.

Industry collaboration

In 2015–16, CSIRO earned approximately $120 million of external revenue through co-investment, consulting and contract research, and testing contracts with Australian and international private sector partners and clients. Examples of notable new contracts include arrangements with Chevron Australia Business Unit and Google Life Sciences.

In 2015–16 we worked with over 1,800 private industry customers, including 500 major Australian companies, more than 1,200 Australian small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs), and a large number of overseas corporations. Major strategic-level engagements include Boeing, Bayer AG, Australian Solar Institute, Cotton Seed Distributors, Australian National Low Emissions Coal Research & Development, BHP Billiton Group and AMIRA International.

Building on the strategic customer program, CSIRO’s Business Development planning group initiated a series of 11 customer-focused workshops to identify impact and growth opportunities. Programs focused on both private and public sector entities producing an action plan for their target customer relationship.

International collaboration

In line with CSIRO’s Strategy 2020, the pursuit of a global outlook has strongly informed CSIRO’s activities in 2015–16. Our connections with international universities and research institutes connect us to the 96 per cent of research that happens outside Australia, and provides access to essential data and expertise. By partnering with SMEs and major international companies we provide opportunities for Australian industry to join global value chains. Our science supports Australian foreign policy and trade agendas, including alleviating poverty and improving market access for Australian exporters and trading partners, particularly in Asia.

As an example, during 2015–16 our ARISA program in Indonesia involved hundreds of Indonesian farmers in projects using agricultural innovation to improve their market access and livelihoods. We are also very proud to have celebrated the 40th anniversary of deep collaboration and connection with the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

CSIRO works with global partners on issues of importance to Australia and the world. For example, in September 2015, the multimillion dollar Great Australian Bight Deepwater Marine Partnership between Chevron and CSIRO was launched. The partnership aims to answer questions about the geology and ecology of this unique region. In 2015–16 CSIRO also signed a collaborative research agreement with the CAS technology transfer hub in Foshan that allows CSIRO and CAS greater connectivity with industry in Foshan and the greater Pearl River Delta Economic Zone. This agreement will enable CSIRO and CAS to establish a governance structure to manage and conduct future projects in a broad range of science areas.

Cooperative Research Centres

The Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) Programme supports industry-led collaborations between researchers, industry and the community.

Since the programme commenced in 1991, 211 CRCs have been funded by the Australian government, and 33 active CRCs are operating in 2015–16. CSIRO has participated in over 140 CRCs during its lifetime and contributed to 16 during the 2015–16 reporting period. The CRC for Optimising Resource Extraction gained continued funding to 2021. CSIRO’s total cash and in-kind contribution to CRCs was $9.1 million for the year.

Increase the diversity of our leadership cohort

The gender representation across CSIRO, regardless of role, remained unchanged at 40 per cent women and 60 per cent men over 2015–16. Overall representation of women in middle to senior leadership roles (science-specific and enterprise-support roles) across CSIRO increased slightly from 28 per cent in 2014–15 to 29 per cent in 2015–16.

The science-specific leadership representation remained unchanged at 21 per cent from the previous year. CSIRO’s participation in the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) program aims to develop initiatives to support the increase of women’s representation in leadership within CSIRO and across Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) more broadly over the coming years. There is additional information on these initiatives in Our people.

Employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has increased from 1.2 per cent to 1.8 per cent this year through the ongoing delivery of initiatives within our Indigenous Engagement Strategy, which is detailed in Our people.

The percentage of staff reporting a non-English speaking background remains unchanged at 20.6 per cent. To meet diversity and inclusion objectives, diversity and inclusion reference groups and plans have been established across all Business Units.

We jointly discovered a molecule that enables bone marrow stem cell collection from the blood within an hour. The collected stem cells can be used to treat leukaemia.

Innovation capacity

The AcceleratiON Program, launched during 2015-16, is an intensive three-month program for teams of CSIRO staff and external collaborators to develop their ideas into real commercial opportunities. It has been a highlight of evolving our culture and activity towards innovation. This past year, nine teams completed the program. As a testament to its significance, the Australian Government, through the National Innovation and Science Agenda, has funded CSIRO to expand the program to universities and other publicly funded research agencies.

The first staff survey, measuring innovation capacity, was undertaken in July 2016, with the results to be reported in the annual performance statements for 2016–17.

Increase staff safety

In the last 12 months, five fewer staff experienced a lost-time injury than in 2014–15, with a concurrent reduction of our Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate (LTIFR) from 3.7 per million hours worked in 2014–15 to 3.3 in 2015–16.

The Medical Treatment Injury Frequency Rate (MTIFR) has dropped to 7.0 in 2015–16, with an increased focus on preventing musculoskeletal and low-frequency, but potentially serious injuries. Initiatives have continued to encourage staff to avoid placing themselves at risk and to report body-stressing injuries early before they develop into more disabling injuries. This has resulted in a significant drop of 30 per cent in the rate of recordable injuries, demonstrating the effectiveness of the programs.

The number of incidents reported to Comcare and other safety-related regulators also decreased by more than 20 per cent in 2015–16.

For more information on our health and safety programs see Health and safety.

Increase our investment in future science and technology platforms

CSIRO’s Future Science Platforms (FSPs) are an investment in new interdisciplinary and cross-organisational science. The investment underpins innovation and has the potential to help reinvent and create new industries for Australia. The portfolio of FSPs, along with overall growth of our investment, is a significant focus of our Strategy 2020. Work on an approach and process for identifying and prioritising this new portfolio commenced during the year, including a significant challenge on the OurCSIRO crowdsourcing platform to encourage staff to contribute ideas in support of the proposed FSP candidates.

The comprehensive assessment and engagement process meant investment was deferred to 1 July 2016 for six new FSPs. With the funding decision, we are on track to meet investment targets in future years. Our ongoing investments in attracting, supporting and developing early- and mid-career researchers, supporting international researcher mobility and funding seminars to explore cutting-edge science were maintained as part of a redesigned suite of grants programs for staff.

  1. The full reports are published at: www.csiro.au/en/About/Our-impact/Evaluating-our-impact
  2. The CSIRO Impact Evaluation Guide is available at: www.csiro.au/en/About/Our-impact/Our-impact-model/Ensuring-we-deliver-impact
  3. The CSIRO Impact Evaluation Guide is available at: www.csiro.au/en/About/Our-impact/Our-impact-model/Ensuring-we-deliver-impact

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