Our Future Science Platforms (FSPs) are an investment in boundary-pushing science that will enable future innovation. Our FSPs are multi-disciplinary, bringing together different fields of research. They are multi-year initiatives, designed to invent the foundations of tomorrow’s science breakthroughs. And they will help us solve the greatest challenges facing Australia.
We launched five FSPs last year. And now we have four new programs to share.
Future science platforms (FSPs)
Our Chief Scientist Bronwyn Fox said the new FSPs will bring together industry and science to invent the cutting-edge science that will shape our future.
"Our FSPs are a critical part of the way we do science. They are our investment in cutting-edge transformative research. Where we push the boundaries of science and lean into the seemingly impossible," Bronwyn said.
"The foundational research of these four new FSPs will pave the way for innovations. They will catalyse new industries. They will help us to better manage our health, food security, natural resources and environment in the decades to come."
So, let's take a look at our four new FSPs.
Revolutionary Energy Storage Systems
As technology advances, our energy storage requirements will also need to evolve. At the grid level, new management systems are required to incorporate more renewable energy. This is because our power network was originally designed for fossil fuel technologies.
Adam Best is the interim director of our Revolutionary Energy Storage Systems FSP. He said disruptive change is crucial to meeting future energy needs safely, efficiently and sustainably.
"This FSP will work on the science solutions that will take us well beyond the limitations of today’s energy storage options and systems," Adam said.
"Unlocking the secret to efficient and safe energy storage could see us charge electric vehicles as easily as we now fill our petrol tanks. Or we could keep portable devices charged for many days without the need for a top-up.
"On a larger scale, it could be mimicking pumped hydro through new technology and making it more responsive to the needs of the grid," he said.
Permanent Carbon Locking
Permanently removing carbon from our atmosphere, at the speed and magnitude demanded, remains a challenge. Our Permanent Carbon Locking FSP will work towards driving radical innovation at the nexus of biology, chemistry and engineering. It will consider both carbon capture and carbon storage.
Researchers will explore the systems and architecture needed to integrate carbon storage and carbon streams in new ways. This will enable better use of Australia’s natural assets.
Andrew Lenton is the director of the Permanent Carbon Locking FSP. He said collaborative research is critical, particularly at this early stage.
“If we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we need breakthroughs and innovation in permanent carbon removal," Andrew said.
"This FSP has the potential to underpin new industries. And reshape existing industries for Australia and beyond. With our science at the centre."
The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating our understanding of the immune systems in both humans and animals. As a result, the pandemic is leading to innovations in immune-based technologies.
Our Immune Resilience FSP will focus on new science to provide a deeper understanding of these systems. This will help give better protection against diseases. And swifter responses to emerging health threats.
Tim Doran is the director of the Immune Resilience FSP. He said new and emerging science could enable solutions that harness immune responses to better tackle diseases.
"The rapid acceleration in immune-based technologies in recent years has opened up so many biotech opportunities. We want to build on that momentum," Tim said.
"This innovative research will further unravel the complex nature of immune systems. It will also develop new strategies to enhance immune resilience in both humans and animals."
Advanced Engineering Biology
Engineering biology – also known as synthetic biology – has the potential to unlock a new bio-economy in Australia. This FSP aims to supercharge new biotechnology delivery in three ways. Firstly, through streamlined, molecular design and engineering tools. Secondly, through highly efficient bioproduction systems. And thirdly, through data-driven decision-making tools.
This FSP will enhance Australia's ability to develop biological goods and services that support food security, health and sustainable manufacturing.
Colin Scott is our interim director of the Advanced Engineering Biology FSP. He said developing powerful new tools for biological design and prototyping will improve the delivery of impactful new goods and services.
“This research will help deliver the 50,000 jobs and $30 billion a year that were identified in our Synthetic Biology Roadmap,” Colin said.
“This is a really exciting time for the bio-economy in Australia. We are seeing significant growth in start-ups and in the wider innovation ecosystem. Increased investment in this research area will help ensure that Australia is a world leader in engineering biology."