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Become a CSIRO Industry PhD (iPhD) program partner and connect a PhD student with a research project that tackles your business problem. Students are jointly supervised by the industry partner, the student's university, and Australia's national science agency, CSIRO.

Program benefits

  • Develop new, or strengthen relationships with universities and CSIRO
  • Gain new knowledge and research solutions for challenges facing your company
  • Enhance innovation and build company R&D pipelines through university and CSIRO knowledge transfer
  • Gain access to university and CSIRO facilities and expertise
  • Develop highly skilled and customised talent to assist with future recruitment.

Associate Professor Wayne Leifert, CSIRO Principal Research Scientist.

The industry PhD brings people together to really focus on translating knowledge into something that's valuable for the community worldwide.

Kym McNicholas, CSIRO iPhD Candidate.

My name is Kim McNicholas and I'm an Industry PhD student here at Biosensis. The aim of my project was to try and increase the sensitivity of these assays using gold nanoparticles. So it is a procedure or a technique that's used in the lab to measure concentrations of a particular protein in the sample.

Professor Robert Rush, Biosensis Managing Director and Chair

The research program with Adelaide University and CSIRO allows us to identify new biomarkers in a cohort of patients who have been screened and shown to either have cognitive impairment or dementia.

Associate Professor Tara Pukala, University of Adelaide.

And then with our CSIRO and industry partners, we can translate that to what might ultimately be a diagnostic test for early detection of Alzheimer's disease.

Kym McNicholas, CSIRO iPhD Candidate.

They've all been able to address different needs that I’ve needed over the time of the PhD. Biosensis, being able to work in a laboratory with access to quality materials, CSIRO to access statisticians and IT professionals, as well as a very good valuable patient cohort, and the University has this amazing, structured program which helps all PhD students just get through.

Professor Robert Rush, Biosensis Managing Director and Chair

The iPhD program is ideal for us to build on the innovation that this company thrives on.

Professor Tara Pukala, University of Adelaide.

One of the key advantages that I've found in this program is our ability to translate key fundamental research.

Kym McNicholas, CSIRO iPhD Candidate.

I really feel like I'm solving real world problems here. It's been a very good collaboration between the three teams.

Partnering with CSIRO, University of Adelaide and Biosensis.

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Program Funding and Support

The iPhD program is funded by the Australian Government and the industry partner for up to four years. Funding for each year consists of three components:

  1. Student Scholarship of $46,000 p.a. (2024 rate) comprising of $34,000 p.a. provided by the Government and $12,000 p.a. provided by the industry partner.
  2. Project Expense and Development package of up to $13,000 p.a. provided by the Government for research operating costs and research skill development.
  3. Student career and professional development training funding provided by the Government and developed/delivered by CSIRO.

Program requirements

iPhD projects must:

  • align with CSIRO and Government priorities
  • address an industry problem while complying with the university’s requirements of a PhD program

Industry Partners must:

  • be an Australian company or have an Australian presence (with a registered ABN or ACN). Government and not-for-profit organisations are excluded
  • commit $13,000 p.a. for up to four years
  • allow a suitably experienced staff member to co-supervise the student for up to four years
  • provide the student with a three-month Industry Engagement Component
  • provide access to facilities and infrastructure, if required for the project

Become an industry partner

If you work in industry and have a project idea and would like to commence the EOI process with CSIRO, please contact us.

Program intake dates

Expressions of Interest (EOI) are accepted from February to May for the commencement of the following year. However, we may accept EOIs outside this these dates. Please contact us if you have an idea outside this time frame.

Program resources

FAQ: Industry

A Collaboration Agreement is established between CSIRO, the university and industry partner, which highlights the Intellectual Property (IP) arrangement. Within the agreement, there are four different IP options available. The most suitable option is mutually agreed upon by all involved parties. Under all circumstances, students will own the copyright to their thesis. Project publications should be encouraged, but some conditions may be imposed to protect Project IP and confidential information of the parties involved.
Projects must be allocated a primary location by the supervisory panel. This location is where the student will be primarily based to undertake the project. The primary location must be in Australia and may be at the host university, at CSIRO or on the industry partner’s premises. The location of the three-month Industry Engagement Component may be different to the project’s primary location.

The program’s three-way partnership calls for the appointment of a university supervisor/s, an industry supervisor, and a CSIRO supervisor. Each supervisor will be responsible for certain aspects of the student’s supervision. However, the Primary Supervisor, allocated from the university, is responsible for monitoring and assessing the PhD student progress in accordance with the university’s PhD academic requirements. A tailored project management and communication plan is created prior to project commencement, detailing supervisor roles, level of commitment and communication methods so the student can access appropriate support.

$13,000 per annum is provided to the supervising organisation where the student is primarily based to cover project operating expenses and development activities. Project expenses may include lab consumables, fieldwork, and other research costs. Travel costs associated with the project and/or approved development activities are also eligible expenses.

There is no obligation for the industry partner or CSIRO to offer employment to the student during or at completion of the project.

iPhD program staff assist with project scoping, partner communication, and support the submission of the formal EOI paperwork. If required, iPhD program staff will make best endeavours to locate eligible partners which have complementary and relevant knowledge and experience.

Students must be sought through an open advertising process facilitated by the involved university. Student expressions of interest will need to be lodged via the university website and the supervisory panel will shortlist, interview, and nominate the most suitable student to formally apply for the scholarship.
iPhD program staff are responsible for the delivery of the CSIRO Industry PhD program and support all project development stages, including expression of interest, contracting and student recruitment processes. As the funding administrator, we distribute the student scholarship and project expenses funds to the appropriate partners. Program staff also develop a tailored student career and professional development training program, which is delivered alongside the PhD program. The training program builds skills needed to deliver industry-focused research including innovation, entrepreneurship, and leadership skills. Program staff actively support students and contributing partners and act as the first point of call should any issues arise.

The Industry Engagement component is a requirement of the CSIRO Industry PhD program. It aims to ensure that the needs of industry guide the development, activities, and outcomes of the PhD project. It provides an opportunity for the student to work under the guidance of their industry partner on research and development activities contributing to their PhD project.

Activities should provide students with relevant tools and experience to better contextualise and apply research in an industry setting. Activities should contribute to the development, research and outcomes of the larger PhD project, and be related to the student’s area of research. Potential activities may include:

  • understanding the research needs of the industry partner and/or the broader industry
  • undertaking practical research translation activities under the guidance of the industry partner 
  • testing research assumptions and innovations in an industry setting with end-users. 

Generally, any results from these activities can be included in the thesis so long as confidentiality and publication clauses listed in the Collaboration Agreement and Student Agreement are complied with.


The Industry Engagement component must be a minimum of 60 full-time days or three calendar months in duration and should ideally take place at the industry partner’s premises. The Industry Engagement component should ideally be completed part-time or in short blocks, strategically placed throughout the PhD to encourage ongoing engagement between the industry partner and the student.

At the discretion and with the agreement of the supervisory team, alternate locations may be possible if there are travel limitations, if the project needs access to specific facilities and equipment, or if the entirety of the Industry Engagement cannot feasibly be undertaken at the industry partner’s location(s). The university will need to approve any alternate location(s).

Examples of locations include:

  • CSIRO site
  • the university
  • a combination of sites
  • remote
  • a mixture of remote and in-person attendance.
The Industry Engagement component does not need to be completed full-time, however any arrangements must total at least 60 full-time equivalent days of engagement. There is significant flexibility, and the exact format should depend on the needs of the project and support the development of the student. For instance, the component could be completed part-time or in short blocks strategically placed throughout the PhD to encourage on-going engagement between the student and the industry partner.
It is recommended the student speak with the supervisory team early in the PhD to ensure that funding is available if the student needs to travel for the Industry Engagement component. In some cases, specific funding arrangements have been put in place for projects where the Industry Engagement component will involve travel away from the primary location.

Since the primary location of the Industry Engagement component will generally be the industry partner’s premises, the industry supervisor will have increased responsibility for the student during the Industry Engagement. Although the industry supervisor is responsible for the student while at the company, the day-to-day supervision of the student may be delegated to someone else on-site, or to one of the other supervisors, particularly if activities are being undertaken at a non-industry partner location.

In addition, depending on the PhD project, the student may need access to laboratories and equipment in other locations including at CSIRO or the university, and this will accordingly fall under the purview of the relevant university or CSIRO supervisor.

The Industry Engagement component including activities, location(s) and attendance arrangements should be jointly agreed upon between the student and the supervisory team and should be approved by the university early in the PhD.

The university will have reporting requirements, for instance an internship report may need to be completed by the student and signed off by the industry supervisor. To track the student’s attendance, their university may need to provide an appropriate tracking mechanism (e.g., time sheets).

The student should engage early with their graduate school to identify any university-specific requirements. Although it is recommended that the Industry Engagement project be scoped early in the PhD, there is an expectation that supervisors and the university will make allowance for changes down the track if required, and these changes will need to be consistent with the Collaboration Agreement.

Yes, whichever premises the student enters will be governed by the health & safety requirements of that entity. When the student attends the industry partner’s premise, they will need to be aware of and comply with the industry partner company’s health & safety requirements which include completing any necessary inductions. This is for the student’s own benefit as well as to safeguard the interests of the other people on-site.

Contact us

If you are interested in becoming an industry partner, or for more information on the iPhD program, please contact us.

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