Our performance against the planned activities within our Strategy.

Table 2.1 provides the summary results for CSIRO’s Strategy 2020 objectives and performance criteria, as published in the Corporate Plan 2016–17.

Table 2.1: Performance against our Strategy




Customer first

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 completed 12 impact case studies in the research areas of advanced manufacturing, agriculture, energy, health and mineral resources.

Additionally, an independent evaluation was undertaken to assess the whole-of-CSIRO value to the nation using 28 case studies and other forms of evidence. The estimated present value of benefits from CSIRO’s work is approximately $3.2 billion per year. This is almost three times the total annual CSIRO budget and more than four times the funding provided by the AustralianGovernment.

Maintain our customer satisfaction using our Customer Willingness to Recommend Net Promoter Score (NPS)

The NPS for 2016–17 was +34, which is a solid improvement over the +11 favourable result achieved last year.

Collaboration hub

Global outlook, national benefit

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

Internal staff mobility and collaboration has slightly decreased to 9% of full-time equivalent (FTE) staff deployed outside of their Business Units, compared to 11% last year, resulting from the simplification of the CSIRO structure and merger of some units the previous year.

Collaboration with external parties increased by more than 3% compared with the previous year (based on 3-5-year rolling averages, through higher rates of co-publication with external partners, growing inclusion of external capability in our projects through sub-contracting and maintaining rates of supervision of higher-degree students by CSIRO researchers).

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 2017 was 360, which is an increase of 4%, or 13 licenses more than the previous year.

Deliver on commitments

Achieve budget as approved by the Board and consistent with the PBS

CSIRO achieved an operating result consistent with the approved budget, with a slightly positive variance of approximately 1% of the budget. Both expenditure and external revenue were materially consistent with the budget, with the actual results of each being about 2% less thanbudget.

Breakthrough innovation

Increase our innovation capacity across all staff cohorts over the base year of 2015–16

The 2016 staff survey showed that 36% of staff perceived the organisation was good or very good at supporting innovation. The survey indicated that 55% of respondents reflected they had the ability to ‘think outside the box’.

Excellent science

Increase our investment in future science and technology platforms, including capability development and central competitive funds

Our investment in future science increased to more than 125% of the base year 2014–15 through the allocation of an additional $9 million to the Future Science Platforms (FSP) program. Six new FSPs were established during the year, with some lag in expenditure due to this process, however expenditure was maintained in ResearchPlus programs for a total year-on-year growth in expenditure of more than 35%.

Maintain or increase the number of refereed publications

The total number of refereed publications has decreased by 8% over the past year. The number of refereed journal publications decreased from 3,385 to 3,122, and refereed conference papers decreased from 595 to 364.

Inclusion, trust and respect

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 increased from 29% in 2015–16 to 31% in 2016–17. Employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the percentage of leaders of non-English speaking background has seen minor increases.

Health, safety and environment

Increase staff safety via ‘Zero Harm’ policy of continuous improvement of Recordable Injury Frequency Rate (RIFR)

We achieved a RIFR of 8.3 per million hours worked, which represents a drop of 19% compared to last year and 44% compared with our baseline at 30 June 2015.

Analysis of our performance

The Minister’s Statement of Expectations (SoE)1 issued in November 2016 reinforced the CSIRO Strategy 2020 focus areas. Key activities were undertaken to increase staff understanding of the strategy and how it is embedded in the organisation, as well as sharing our vision and mission with our customers and stakeholders. We also focused on increasing collaboration with industry, universities and other publicly funded research agencies to understand and address national and global challenges.

Rapid technological change is transforming the nature of work, requiring a diverse, skilled workforce and improve access to work for disadvantaged groups. We must create a culture

and environment that encourages our staff to work collaboratively and creatively to deliver on our unique purpose. This year we commenced CSIRO Connect workshops for team and group leaders to provide clarity about what the strategy means for leaders and their teams and how they play an important part in our success. We launched a number of programs in support of Strategy 2020 and the Culture and Morale Building Plan 2016, including Launch and Pitch Camps in collaboration with ON, Intensive Development Centres for aspiring and experienced leaders, and Career Development Centres for all staff.

By working towards a Science in Australia Gender Equity Bronze accreditation we have taken an evidence-based approach to measuring and addressing gender equity. We also invested in

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programs for school students, females and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to support researchers to access innovation funding and training resources.

We supported and progressed technology development to attract commercial investment and market uptake. Consistent with the SoE, we provided the tools to take world-class science from benchtop to market through programs such as our ON program. The SME Connect team actively raised performance through programs designed to connect small-to-medium businesses with Australia’s best researchers.

Science and industrial research is a global discipline requiring key global partnerships. CSIRO’s commitment to increasing the global outlook of Australia’s world-class research and innovative businesses was realised this year by establishing a CSIRO office in the US, which will broaden our engagement with pre-eminent organisations in the international scientific and industrial community.

CSIRO also collaborated with the Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology, the University of New South Wales and the University of Tasmania to create the $20 million Centre for Southern Hemisphere Oceans Research. The Centre, based in Hobart, will conduct research to improve our understanding of the complex nature of the climate system, providing information, products and services to assist Australia and China to manage the impacts of climate variability and climate change.

Further details against each criterion

Evidence of progress towards and delivery of impact objectives

CSIRO conducts research to address the scientific problems facing industry and the nation. To provide the evidence that our work delivers economic, social and environmental impacts, we undertake impact case studies annually. Each case study is assessed within the context of a common framework, as outlined in the CSIRO Impact Evaluation Guide2.

In 2016–17, CSIRO completed 12 case studies across the Energy, Health and Biosecurity, Manufacturing, Mineral Resources, and Agriculture and Food Business Units.

For example, the Plant Breeding Research Project, in conjunction with major research and commercial partners, has developed approaches to plant breeding that will enable existing arable land to provide food sustainably for a global population of almost 10 billion by 2050. CSIRO’s Reversible Addition Fragmentation Chain Transfer (RAFT) technology enables the development of new tailored materials for the Australian biomedical industry. The toolkit developed from our Distal Footprints project enables the exploration of areas where mineral detection and extraction have been previously deemed too technically difficult or not cost effective.

Separately, in 2017, CSIRO commissioned ACIL Allen Consulting (ACIL Allen) to update its 2014 estimate of the impact and value delivered to the economy and the innovation system by the public investment in CSIRO3. ACIL Allen considered 28 case studies and examined additional ways in which CSIRO delivers value, including our standing capacity, the options created by our research, training and education services and the collaborations that CSIRO engenders. The estimated present value of benefits across the 28 case studies is approximately $3.2 billion per year, which is almost three times the total CSIRO budget and more than four times the funding provided by the Australian Government. The report also found that the annual value delivered by all other CSIRO research would at least match that delivered by the case studies. This suggests that the full research portfolio is providing an estimated return of over 5:1. Consideration of the additional ways in which CSIRO could add value provides further confidence that the actual value delivered by CSIRO is likely to be considerably higher than the estimate based on the case studies alone.

The estimated present value of benefits across the 28 case studies is approximately $3.2 billion per year, which is almost three times our total budget.

Maintain our customer satisfaction

Fundamental to our success as an innovation organisation are the relationships we build with our customers. During 2016–17, CSIRO again used the comprehensive industry benchmark, Net Promoter Score (NPS) methodology, to determine customer satisfaction. NPS is a strong indicator not only of customer loyalty and satisfaction, but also as an indicator for growth. The NPS for 2016–17 was +34, which is a significant improvement from +11 last year and a favourable result.

The survey results show that customers find our scientists to be professional, innovative and a pleasure to work with. The excellence of our science and depth of knowledge of staff comes through strongly from customer responses. Our research adds value to business and CSIRO is a valued partner in solving their problems and finding solutions. According to our customers, our strengths are integrity, empathy, science quality, excellence and innovation. Customers have a high level of trust in CSIRO and consider us to be professional and ethical.

The survey also identified opportunities for improvement, including maintaining our capability and improving competitiveness, and contractual and intellectual property processes. These are already underway as a specific focus of our Strategy 2020 Customer First initiative.

Increase internal and external collaboration

We want to be Australia’s innovation catalyst, and to innovate we must collaborate. As the connector between partners, we create career development opportunities for our staff, deepen our relationships with universities, other research organisations and industry, and we actively build Australia’s future STEM talent.

Internal collaboration

Staff internal mobility and collaboration, as assessed through the percentage of staff deployed outside their home Business Unit, has slightly decreased to nine per cent of FTE, a drop from 11 per cent in the previous year. This is the result of simplification of the organisation’s structure and the merger of some research units.

External collaboration

The external collaboration metric is based on 3-5-year rolling averages of the number of joint publications, industry and international project contracts and the number of research students co-supervised with Australian universities. Our external collaboration has increased by more than three per cent from the previous year. This is due to:

  • an increase in the five-year rolling average of joint publications to 2,954 in 2016–17
  • an increase of more than 10 per cent, to over $90 million per annum, in the three year rolling average value of sub-contracts and grants to partner institutions contributing to CSIRO projects
  • maintaining the rate of student co-supervision, with 856 students, compared to last year.
Joint research publications

CSIRO has a high level of collaboration both domestically and internationally. Our number of collaborative publications has more than doubled since 2006. In 2017, 84 per cent of our publications were partnerships with authors from other institutions and 66 per cent were produced with authors from other Australian institutions. We have also increased the rate of collaborations with organisations overseas, as measured by the number of joint publications. In addition, 60 per cent of our scientific publications were co-authored with an international colleague, compared to 55 per cent in 2015.

Industry collaboration

In 2016–17, CSIRO earned approximately $219 million of external revenue through co-investment, consulting contract research and testing contracts with international and Australian private sector partners and customers.

This year, we worked with 1,750 private industry customers, including 400 major Australian companies, more than 1,060 Australian small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs), and a large number of overseas corporations (280).

This year, we worked with 1,750 private industry customers, including 400 major Australian companies, more than 1,060 Australian small to medium enterprises (SMEs), and 280 overseas corporations.

For example, our collaboration with Australian company Clinical Genomics enabled the delivery of a blood test for bowel cancer (Colvera™), which is currently in clinical trials for use in Australia and the US as a screening and early diagnostic test. As a blood test for cancer recurrence, Colvera™ was released in the US market in December 2016.

CSIRO has worked with Boeing over the past 28 years, collaborating on more than 170 projects covering everything from better production methods to space science, airport modelling software and how to best repaint a plane, to more recently including new manufacturing processes and ways to keep Boeing’s workers safe. This close relationship was a key factor in the aviation company’s decision to set up one of its largest R&D facilities in Australia. Boeing now has around 3,000 Australian employees. Local industry has also reaped the benefits with more than $336 million in Boeing related exports. In 2017, CSIRO was named a Boeing ‘Supplier of the Year’ in the technology category.

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

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

In 2016–17, CSIRO delivered three Industry Roadmaps for the Advanced Manufacturing4, Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals5 and Mining Equipment, Technology and Services6 sectors. These roadmaps are an important step in working with Australian industry to understand current and future trends. The remaining roadmaps will be delivered in 2017–18.

International collaboration

CSIRO’s international activities support our role as a trusted advisor to the Australian Government and as a leading and respected institution in national and global innovation. In line with Strategy 2020, the pursuit of a global outlook has strongly informed our activities in 2016–17. Our connections with international universities and research institutes provides access to essential data and expertise. Our new US office will create opportunities to partner with SMEs and major companies in the US market. We already have a strong foundation in the market through strong relationships with NASA, Bayer LLP, Boeing and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and have worked with 49 of the top US Fortune 500 companies.

We already have a sound foundation in the US market through strong relationships with NASA, Bayer LLP, Boeing and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and have worked with 49 of the top US Fortune 500 companies.

Front cover of each of the Industry Roadmap reports, including the Advanced Manufacturing, Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals and Mining Equipment, Technology and Services reports.

CSIRO’s historic and more recent efforts demonstrate that 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. For example, CSIRO is working with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), an international conservation non-governmental organisation, and government, industry and communities in New Britain to help them plan for the best possible future development in their region. TNC and CSIRO are developing tools to build capacity among decision makers to take advantage of opportunities for mining, agriculture, fisheries and tourism in the Bismarck Sea, while considering the potential unintended consequences of development on communities and the environment.

CSIRO is working with Nepali organisations to support integrated water resources management in the Koshi Basin. We aim to build the evidence base necessary to guide strategic investments in water resources development under The Sustainable Development Investment Portfolio, an Australian Government initiative with the goal of increasing water, food and energy security in South Asia.

University collaboration

CSIRO partners with universities to ensure the best available research is used to deliver outcomes in areas of national priority. In 2016–17, CSIRO worked with 41 Australian universities in a range of activities. These universities were collaborators on 60 per cent of CSIRO’s research publications, an increase from 57 per cent in 2015–16. In partnership with universities, CSIRO supervised 856 postgraduate research students, up from 801 last year. Other highlights include:

  • Mining3. CSIRO joined forces with CRCMining to create the world’s largest, most advanced mining innovation centre. Mining3, located in Brisbane, brings together universities including Curtin University, the University of Queensland and the Queensland University of Technology, as well as industry members. Drawing on its extensive network, Mining3 has the scale and industry focus to address the greatest challenges facing mining. It is focused on shortening the innovation cycle to drive real outcomes for industry and the broader community.
  • RV Investigator. The vessel continues to deliver science and training in marine research. An eight-week trip led by Macquarie University with scientists and students from University of Tasmania, the Australian National University, University of Wollongong and Colgate University (US) to Antarctica’s east coast returned with the world’s first detailed map of the region’s sea floor. The research vessel journeyed to the Sabrina Coastline to observe and research the melting Totten Glacier. The Chief Scientist for the voyage, Associate Professor Leanne Armand, is also the coordinator for CAPSTAN (Collaborative Australian Postgraduate Sea Training Alliance Network). CSIRO, with Macquarie University, selected the first cohort of postgraduate students to participate in this breakthrough sea training program that is providing a national approach to training in the marine sciences.
  • CSIRO ON Accelerator and ON Prime. These pre-accelerator programs helped more than 175 university participants to develop their projects, with an average willingness to recommend score of 9/10. CSIRO also signed two Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with the University of Adelaide and University of New South Wales to consolidate our partnerships. A key collaborative activity resulting from these partnerships, and consistent with the Minister’s SoE, is the Industrial PhD program for PhD students to do industry-focused research. The pilot program with the University of New South Wales will commence early in 2017–18.
Cooperative Research Centres

The Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) Program supports industry-led collaborations between researchers, industry and the community to foster high quality research to solve industry-identified problems. Since the program commenced in 1991, 211 CRCs have been funded by the Australian Government, and 31 active CRCs are operating in 2016–17.

CSIRO has participated in over 140 CRCs and participated in 19 during 2016–17. The total value of our projects in all CRCs in 2016–17 was $21.6 million, a $4 million increase on last year.

Several CRCs reached the end of their funding cycle in June 2017. These were the Polymers CRC, Defence Materials Technology Centre, Invasive Animals, Poultry and Rail Manufacturing.

CRC-P grants were announced in 2015–16 to support short-term, industry-led research. CRC-Ps are generally small collaborations that operate on project timelines of up to three years and grants of up to $3 million. There are 11 CRC-Ps in which CSIRO has participated, and we were involved with three in 2016–17:

  • An Antibody based In Vitro Diagnostic for Metastatic Cancer CRC-P, CSIRO project value $278,000
  • Printed Solar Films for Value-added Building Products for Australia CRC-P, CSIRO project value $497,000
  • Future Oysters CRC-P, CSIRO project value $95,000.

Increase the number of active technology licences

Part of our purpose is to facilitate the application and use of our research. Technology licences are used as a key indicator of research and development uptake and adoption by customers and collaborators. The total number of active licences recorded as at 30 June 2017 was 360; an increase of 13 active licenses, or four per cent more than 2015–16. This total includes 129 patent licences, over 100 copyright licences and more than 30 Plant Breeder’s Rights. The reported result is an aggregate count of all executed IP licences currently in force. This includes both revenue and non-revenue generating agreements and indirect licences. The revenue generated over the last five years from licences and royalties is $239 million. For details of our IP and equity portfolio see pages 30–31.

The total number of active licenses recorded as at 30 June 2017 was 360; an increase of 13 active licenses, or four per cent more than 2015–16.

Achieve approved budget

Financial sustainability is important to CSIRO. Through careful management of expenditure and projects generating revenue, the operating deficit of $20.8 million this year was within tolerance of the $36 million operating deficit approved by the Government. This was the result of total expenses of $1,292.1 million, externally earned revenue of $484 million and appropriations from government of $787.3 million, all being materially consistent with approved budgets (see Table 2.2).








Australian private sector






Australian governments






Rural industry research and development (R&D) corporations






Cooperative Research Centres






Overseas entities and international






Work in progress/deferred revenue






Total co-investment, consulting and services






Intellectual property (IP) – royalty and licencerevenues






Total research and services revenue






Other external revenue






Gain/(loss) on sale of assets






Other fair value gains and reversals






Total external revenue






Revenue from government






Total revenue






Less expenses






Operating result






Increase our innovation capacity

Our aim is to increase our capacity to help reinvent existing industries, create new industries for Australia and deliver public good. To achieve this, we need a culture that embraces innovation and programs that build entrepreneurial capacity and investments in future science areas. Our 2016 staff survey showed 36 per cent of staff perceived our culture as good or very good at supporting innovation. The survey also indicated that 55 per cent of respondents felt they had the ability to ‘think outside the box’. CSIRO undertook considerable measures during 2016–17 to increase its innovation capacity.

We established six new FSPs to stimulate collaboration and develop a strong foundation for prospective multi-disciplinary innovations. The FSPs are designed to provide researchers with resources and opportunities to explore new scientific areas. Through the ON program, we have run pre-accelerator and accelerator programs to develop the capability and capacity of our teams to translate research into innovative solutions for real-world users.

In addition, we commenced a series of CSIRO Connect workshops for our Group and Team Leaders to enable staff to understand their role in Strategy 2020. To date, these workshops have involved nearly 1,000 of this critical leadership cohort.

Bar chart representing CSIRO Journal Publication output by year from 2012 to 2016:

  • 2012 = 2952
  • 2013 = 3169
  • 2014 = 3214
  • 2015 = 3385
  • 2016 = 3122.

Figure 2.1: CSIRO Journal Publication output by year 2012–16.

Increase our investment in future science and technology platforms

CSIRO established six new FSPs as an investment in science to underpin innovation. These have the potential to reinvent and create new industries for Australia by developing new capability in leading-edge, interdisciplinary science. The growth of our investment in the portfolio of FSPs is an important element of our Strategy 2020. Our investment increased to more than 125 per cent of the base year 2014–15 through the allocation of an additional $9 million to the program. In the first full year of operation the emphasis was on building teams and establishing research activities and partnerships. This resulted in a lag in expenditure of less than 10 per cent below the investment allocated. The ResearchPlus grants programs, which attract and develop early- and mid-career researchers, support international research visitors and fund seminars to explore cutting-edge science. These investments remain within the allocated budget. The overall forward budget trajectory is consistent with investment targets in future years.

Pie chart: Percentage of CSIRO publications by type.

Pie chart showing the percentage of CSIRO publications by type:

  • book/book chapter 3 per cent
  • journal article 57 per cent
  • conference paper 15 per cent
  • client report 15 per cent
  • technical report 10 per cent.

Figure 2.2: Percentage of CSIRO publications by type.

Maintain or increase the number of refereed publications

Research publications are an important measure for research organisations by which to judge the standard and quality of research. The number of published, refereed CSIRO journal articles and reviews has trended upwards since 2012 (see Figure 2.1). This has decreased from 3,385 to 3,122 over the last year. The number of refereed conference papers recorded in the ePublish system has also decreased from 595 in 2015 to 364 in 2016. Overall, the total number of refereed publications has decreased by eight per cent.

We would expect a reduction in publication counts some years after a drop in research-active FTE, as was experienced between 2013 and 2015. However, notwithstanding the impact of reduced numbers of scientists and engineers, the total number of refereed papers is still greater than earlier years when staff numbers were higher. For example, in 2012–13, there were 2,952 publications for 6,477 staff, compared to the current result of 3,122 for 5,565 staff.

Journal articles are the main type of research publication produced by CSIRO, followed by conference papers (see Figure 2.2). In addition, CSIRO produced 579 client reports and 402 technical reports during 2016–17.

Increase the diversity of our leadership cohort

A diverse and inclusive culture supports the excellence of our science and increases our impact for the nation. The gender representation across CSIRO, regardless of role, remained unchanged at 40 per cent women and 60 per cent men over 2016–17. Overall, representation of women in middle-to-senior leadership roles (science-specific and enterprise-support roles) increased from 29 per cent in 2015–16 to 31 per cent in 2016–17.

The female leadership representation (in science-specific roles) improved from 21 per cent in the previous year to 25 per cent. CSIRO’s participation in the SAGE program aims to develop initiatives to support the increase of women’s representation in leadership within CSIRO and across STEM more broadly. Additional information on these initiatives is on pages 91–92.

CSIRO’s participation in the SAGE program aims to develop initiatives to support the increase of women’s representation in leadership within CSIRO and across STEM more broadly.

Employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has increased from 1.8 per cent to 1.9 per cent this year through the ongoing initiatives within our Indigenous Engagement Strategy. These are detailed on page 92.

The percentage of leaders reporting a non-English speaking background increased from 17 per cent to 18 per cent. To meet our diversity and inclusion objectives, reference groups and plans have been established across all Business Units to provide clear blueprints on what is to be achieved and how we will embed processes to ensure successful implementation.

Increase staff safety

The health and safety of our staff is fundamental to our ability to deliver great science and innovative solutions. In the last 12 months, CSIRO’s Recordable Injury Frequency Rate dropped by 19 per cent from last year’s result due to decreases in both the Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate (LTIFR) and Medical Treatment Injury Frequency Rate (MTIFR) measures. Thirty staff suffered an injury serious enough to prevent them from coming to work. This equalled last year’s result. The LTIFR (the number of lost time injuries occurring per million hours worked), was 3.2 for 2016–17, down from 3.3 in 2015–16, a reduction of 3 per cent. Our ongoing focus on preventing musculoskeletal and low-frequency, but potentially serious, injuries resulted in the MTIFR dropping to 5.1 in 2016–17 from 7 in 2015–16, a substantial decrease of 27 per cent.

Although the number of injuries significantly decreased, there were nine incidents that were reportable to Comcare. The most serious was an explosion at the Clayton site that resulted in one staff member being hospitalised with minor injuries. There was also damage to one building. Along with all reported incidents, this event was fully investigated, and corrective actions and process improvements are being implemented.

Initiatives continue to encourage staff to avoid physical risk and to report body-stress injuries early before they develop into more disabling injuries. More information on our health and safety is on page 84.

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