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18 October 2018 Speech

I would like to begin by acknowledging the Ngunnawal people as the Traditional Owners of the land that we are on today, and pay my respect to their Elders past and present.

Good morning everyone, and thank you to our Minister, the Honourable Karen Andrews, for officially opening our very first CSIRO showcase at Parliament House.

Just a few weeks ago we were in your home town of the Gold Coast to launch CSIRO's space roadmap, so it's great to be here with you in the city I'm sure we both call our home away from home – Canberra.

It's also wonderful to have such a passionate advocate for STEM and innovation in Minister Andrews, as a mechanical engineer and as previously Parliamentary Secretary and Assistant Minister for our portfolio.

We know that any time is a busy time in this building, so thank you to everyone who has made the time to visit us today.

I'd also like to thank the Department of Parliamentary Services for helping us make this event happen – especially when we started listing the things we wanted to bring through security.

But despite their raised eyebrows, the truth is CSIRO has been part of this building since before it even opened its doors.

In August 1961, two CSIRO scientists, James Henry Brayston and Malcolm Ernest Winfield, worked on the display case that kept the Australian Parliament's copy of the Magna Carta in perfect condition.

The nation's scientific agency was entrusted with that document back in the 1960s and I think we have a picture of it being worked on here today.

And, almost 60 years later, CSIRO still stands ready to face the challenges not only of the nation, but of the world -  and it's a good thing because the world is changing faster than ever before.

With more than 5000 people working across more than 50 sites, here in Australia and around the world, in fields as diverse as Energy, Climate, Manufacturing, Resources, Agriculture, Health and Space, it's a challenge to grasp the breadth of CSIRO research – but at CSIRO, we love a challenge.

So please take this opportunity get a taste of our science – and I do mean literally a taste, because you're not going to want to miss out on trying our latest health kick, the broccoli latte – which I'm assured astronauts love.

Now broccoli may not be everyone's favourite vegetable, but whatever your taste, you can bet the farmers who produce your capsicums, or eggplants, or tomatoes, loathe the dreaded fruit fly.

For such a tiny insect, they pack a mighty punch costing Australia $300 million every year.

So today's announcement of investment from the CSIRO Innovation Fund into CSIRO spin-out RapidAIM is great news.

But how RapidAIM's CEO Dr Nancy Schellhorn got here is also a great story.

A couple of years ago, Nancy took part in our relatively new accelerator, called ON, supported by the government's National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA).

ON is Australia's only national sci-tech accelerator, and run by CSIRO for the whole public research sector.

Nancy has been in CSIRO for 14 years, but when she came out the other side of ON – she had changed.

As a scientist she always wanted to change her world, but now she actually had the tools to really do it – to turn her science into a real world solution and deliver it to people who care.

Now Nancy and the RapidAIM team didn't just invent the solution and build the product, they also raised venture funding.

Nancy actually said "no" to Silicon Valley VCs, and chose investment from the CSIRO Innovation Fund, also a product of NISA.

Why? Because Nancy wants to build her company here, she wants her science to create jobs for Australians right here at home, she wants to build something real and enduring that inspires and employs future generations of STEM graduates – because Nancy is a scientist, and scientists change the world.

Nancy is not only setting a great example for our future women of STEM, but for all kids who are fascinated by the world around them, and want to use science to make it a better place.

So I'll hand over to Nancy, but let me just close with a request.

When CSIRO was founded in 1916, some of our first work was in improving citrus crops, and today we're combating fruit flies on a microscopic level.

In the 60s, we were trusted with Australia's copy of the founding document of democracy, the Magna Carta, and today, we're developing the frameworks that will protect the rights of Australians online, through our role as the Data Standards Body, and the AI roadmap.

For over a century, we've applied just about every branch of science, technology, and engineering to deliver solutions to our nation's greatest challenges.

Today, we're here to help you with your challenges.

So please, don't be shy – talk to our team here today.

We want to learn from you, so share a strategic question you're grappling with, or find out how we're helping SMEs in your electorate.

If there's a burning issue at your local Bunnings, your local BBQ, or your local Bureau – we're bound to be working on a solution.

And if we're not, we should be – together.

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