We outline the many factors in our operating environment that are influential in achieving our purpose.

We play a vital role in addressing the economic, social and environmental challenges facing the nation, yet there are many factors over the next four years in our operating environment which are influential in achieving our purpose, these include: meeting Ministerial expectations, focusing on national priorities, strengthening global connections, honouring the trust placed in us by Australians, being financially sustainable, building digital capabilities, and meeting regulatory obligations.

Knowledge translation also remains a key gap nationally, requiring a collective response across the innovation system. Therefore, we also continue to focus on increasing collaboration with industry, government, universities, and other publicly funded research agencies to build key partnerships.

Factors influencing our operating environment

Ministerial expectations

Commitment to Government policy agenda: On 18 November 2016 the then Minister for Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, provided the CSIRO Board with a Statement of Expectations, outlining the Government’s vision, mission, priorities, functions, outcomes, future direction, and operations. Ultimately, this included the paramount vision for CSIRO to become the world’s premier public research organisation over the coming decade and to apply its knowledge for the benefit of all Australians. Adhering to our response as stated in our Statement of Intent, in which we state our commitment to implementing the expectations, reaffirming our commitment to the Australian Government’s policy agenda through our Strategy.

Oceans and Atmosphere research scientist conducting research on Ningaloo Reef.

National priorities

Making strategic decision on priorities: We also have a clear role in supporting the government’s science and research priorities, which all form and shape the current and future focus of our operations and expectations of us delivering impact. These priorities include:

  • National Science and Research Priorities
  • National Science Statement 
  • National Innovation and Science Agenda
  • Office of Innovation and Science’s Australia 2030 national roadmap
  • industry knowledge priorities as identified by the Industry Growth Centres
  • National Research Infrastructure Roadmap, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education policies
  • United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Strategic decisions about where to focus our resources and clearly articulating which priorities we will concentrate our efforts on will be essential for us to manage the number, breadth and depth of challenges we face. Continuing to embed our Rolling Strategic Planning & Implementation Framework, along with our Impact Framework, will support effective investment decision making.

Global connections

Outlook must be global: Futurists around the world have identified many emerging technologies which will have disruptive effects on our way of life. Connecting to global science, technology and innovation, to access new opportunities for Australian innovation, is an imperative for CSIRO. The increasing economic strength of economies in Asia and North America and their investments in research present both industry and science collaboration opportunities. Our historical ties to Europe must remain strong as we accelerate our overall rates of international engagement, and operations return increased value to Australia.

Social factors

Trusted institutions: Trust in our nation’s key public and private institutions is on a downward trend. Core to the publics mistrust is the perception of significant governance failures and a drop in integrity and standards. We remain steadfast and driven to maintain, and continually review, the strong mechanisms implemented across the organisation to ensure ethical behaviour and the production of responsible research and innovation. With these fundamentals and continual commitment to maintaining our social licence to operate, we will successfully deliver world-class scientific and engineering solutions for the nation.  

Economic environment

Financial sustainability: Our operating budget is funded from appropriated revenue from Government and own source revenue. Excluding the appropriated revenue from Government, our revenue is sourced from industries such as Australian private sector, Australian governments (state, territory and federal), rural industry R&D corporations, Cooperative Research Centres, and overseas entities, as well as from CSIRO’s intellectual property. Therefore, our financial sustainability is strongly dependent upon both the Australian market for R&D services (from both the private sector and public sector) and the global market for research and development services, together with commercial factors that include the intellectual property environment.

Technological influences

Digital world: Many scientific developments require big data technologies, including the ability to develop analytics platforms that are trustworthy and secure. Our capacity to innovate in this space will help not only CSIRO but Australia to transition to a data-driven economy, underpinned by new industries, and provide new opportunities for partnering with some of the world's leading corporations and institutes. Proving to be an area of great opportunity over the next four years and beyond for us to deliver impactful benefits aligned to our purpose.

Regulatory environment

Meeting our regulatory obligations: In addition to obligations under our enabling legislation, the Science and Industry Research Act 1949 and the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 , our operations are also governed by a range of other Australian Government and State and Territory legislation, including:

  • Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999
  • Equal Employment Opportunity (Commonwealth Authorities) Act 1987
  • Freedom of Information Act 1982
  • Privacy Act 1988
  • Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013
  • Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

CSIRO staff members at Boeing's manufacturing and research facility, Melbourne.

Our key partnerships

Assisting to improve the productivity of the nation is an imperative for CSIRO, yet the translation of research into application is low in Australia requiring a collective response across the innovation system. Therefore, we continue to focus on increasing collaboration with industry, government, universities, and other publicly funded research agencies to understand how we can improve the uptake and adoption of solutions which address national and global challenges.

Our teams collaborate in many ways on a daily basis and there are a range of models for partnering in existence. As part of our aim to be an innovation catalyst we will support and improve our partnerships by:

Being collaborators, not competitors

Building valuable and strong relationships with universities, in Australia and overseas, is essential to our success. Collaboration with universities increases innovation capacity across research and research training organisations creating a more vibrant and effective approach to aligning and partnering on challenges, sharing of infrastructure and the co-location of activities.

Ensuring relationships are mutually beneficial

Fundamental to delivering on our purpose we require mutually beneficial relationships with government and industry. As the economy becomes more service-centric, a focus on both Federal and State levels in government is vital, as well as attention on small to medium size industry players. Partnering with these core stakeholders enhances our capacity to identify real world challenges, and increases our effectiveness to work together to apply successful solutions.

Co-create value

Focusing on establishing and successfully managing collaborations is only half of the story. We will also remain focused on the end result, which is co-creating value for those involved in the partnership, as well as the eventual end-users. Remaining committed to building the capacity of our staff to plan, monitor and assess the value from our activities will optimise the return on investments and provide us with a deeper understanding of the effectiveness of the pathways we use to deliver those benefits.

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