When I was a student at CSIRO in 1984, I marveled at the profound impact our national science agency had on my country and on me personally, by using science to solve Australia’s greatest challenges.

Larry Marshall leaning against the railing in a stair well.

Dr Larry Marshall, Chief Executive of the CSIRO

I'm proud to say that this year when I asked a student at our Lindfield site what it was like to intern at CSIRO, he echoed exactly the feeling I had back then. CSIRO is fueled by the passion and commitment of 5,500 great people who get up each and every day to make life better for all Australians.

When I graduated in 1988, I had to go overseas to turn my research into innovation, but today CSIRO is different. We’ve grown our student and post-doctorate population by 30 per cent in recent years, and in 2018, CSIRO ranked #1 Employer of Choice by science and engineering graduates, and #4 overall. Today's students have access to the national science accelerator ON, the CSIRO Innovation Fund managed by Main Sequence Ventures, and they can work in CSIRO's very own collaboration hubs alongside 2,500 customers – companies that will likely employ them when they graduate.

Last year, we delivered science programs to more than 150,000 primary and secondary school students, shining a light on the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects and careers. Importantly, we give them real life examples of science paving the way to jobs and industries of the future. The 18 high school student finalists in our BHP STEM awards are leading the way, with 11 of them taking prizes at the Intel National School Science awards in the United States. CSIRO supports these students on their journey of discovery, and in turn, they are an inspiration to us all and our mission to secure Australia’s future prosperity through science and innovation.

CSIRO's strategy to be Australia's innovation catalyst has set new benchmarks, including our highest industry revenue, highest global revenue, and breaking into Reuters' ranking of top 25 innovation organisations, which lifts Australia to the third most innovative country on their list. We have also been ranked by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers as the world's #1 national science agency – both are lists we've never been on before this strategy period. This is our third year of modest growth in people, which is a trend we haven't seen for a decade. Our active licenses are up 25 per cent, indicating the increased relevance of our research, and our royalty revenue has grown by 35 per cent.

All this growth has enabled us to increase investment in blue sky science through our Future Science Platforms, totaling more than $100 million since the start of this strategy period in 2015, and will total $200 million or more by 2020. Our Future Science Platforms plant seeds for our future in renewable energy, sustainable environment, and creating new industries of the future which will deliver the jobs of the future that all Australians need. Our cutting-edge research is underpinned by world-class science, in evidence through our consistent ranking in the top one per cent globally by total citation count. Further, fifty-two per cent of our publications are in the four fields for which we are most strongly ranked for citations, a position we have held for 13 years – as long as CSIRO has tracked this performance.

We can never lose sight of the 'I' in CSIRO – our industry partnerships give our science purpose. We published five industry roadmaps using science to navigate paths to prosperity for Australia's greatest industries. We worked with companies large and small, from 49 of the global Fortune 500, to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), to housing 50 startups in our innovation hubs across the country. This year our SME Connect program facilitated 200 projects – 50 more than in 2017. We were also awarded Boeing Technology Supplier of the Year 2018, for the second consecutive year – again, lifting Australia's profile alongside some of the best innovation organisations in the world.

All these metrics are great, but our people are our greatest asset, and we're committed to strengthening a culture that enables them to do their best work in partnership with our customers. Diversity is the compass to navigate innovation, and this year we continued to implement our SAGE Action Plan. Over the strategy period, we've increased gender diversity at the fastest rate ever, and this year we entered the SAGE 'green zone' (≥41 per cent women) for the first time ever, and women in leadership have increased by 50 per cent in science management roles. Nearly 25 per cent of CSIRO people have a non-English speaking background, and we have doubled our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. Making safety personal enables us to take greater innovation risk without personal risk, so this year we held our first 'HS-Me Day' to focus on safety. So far over the strategy period we’ve reduced our MTIFR (Medical Treatment Injury Frequency Rate) by 38 per cent and our RIFR (Recordable Injury Frequency Rate) by >20 per cent. We will never be complacent about safety; it's our people who give our science and strategy purpose.

Reflecting on the incredible work showcased in this annual report – and outside its pages – it's great to know that our children will grow up in an innovation era where their national science agency is empowering them to create a better future for all Australians.

Dr Larry Marshall
Chief Executive of the CSIRO

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