​CSIRO to take up residency in Silicon Valley

Australia's peak research body will be setting up shop in San Francisco to promote Australian innovation to the United States.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has announced it will be opening an office in San Francisco in a bid to promote Australian innovation and drive scientific and industrial engagement in the United States.

With the new office to open in California's Bay Area in mid-2017, CSIRO chief executive Dr Larry Marshall said his organisation will be firmly focused on bringing benefit back to Australia.

"To accelerate innovation rates in Australia we need to accelerate international engagement, especially in regions where there is a significant opportunity to return value to Australia," Marshall said. "From this point of view, the US is a no-brainer. We're looking forward to igniting Aussie innovation in such an exciting, dynamic market."

It is expected the CSIRO will work closely with research, industry, and business partners to bring Australia's capabilities to the US market place. Nigel Warren, CSIRO Global general manager, said the US expansion will provide a gateway to a market with big economic potential.

"CSIRO will support the Australian government and partner with the research sector and business -- playing the role of Australia's innovation catalyst on a global scale," Warren said.

"This means we can amplify the impact of CSIRO technology and open the door for other Australian researchers, businesses, and startups to realise more commercial value from their great innovations by taking them into a bigger market."

The CSIRO said its Silicon Valley presence will capitalise on the CSIRO's existing relationships with the likes of NASA, Boeing, and the Gates Foundation.

Additionally, the CSIRO expects the office opening will support the federal government's AU$1.1 billion National Innovation and Science Agenda, which saw the setup of a startup landing pad in San Francisco's RocketSpace technology campus last February.

At a cost of AU$11 million, the startup landing pad initiative is aimed at helping Australian entrepreneurs bring their ideas to market.

Tel Aviv was announced as the second host city for the government-funded project; Shanghai was unveiled as the desired location for the third landing pad; Berlin was revealed as the fourth location; and Singapore was confirmed as the fifth and final landing pad in May.

When announcing the initiative, the Australian government said the billion-dollar promise would be used to incentivise innovation and entrepreneurship, reward risk-taking, and promote science, maths, and computing in schools.

According to the CSIRO, global growth is integral to the organisation's mission under Strategy 2020 and the US office will be the organisation's second international office following the opening of CSIRO Chile in 2011.

The announcement from the CSIRO comes after Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop was in the United States giving a speech on the relationship between both countries on Thursday.

Bishop called the US allies, partners, collaborators, and "most importantly" friends, noting the US shares fundamental values with Australia that "underpin a corresponding world view and a similar brand of pragmatic optimism".

At the same time, US President Donald Trump signed a new executive order barring citizens of seven predominantly Muslim nations -- Syria, Iraq, Libya, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen -- from entering the US. The order also placed a temporary hold on any refugees entering the US for 120 days.

The order sparked protests around the country over the weekend, and widespread condemnation from major tech companies whose employees were also affected by the order.

Speaking after her events in Los Angeles, Bishop is reported to have said that the Australian government will support Trump's "strong immigration and border protection policies".

"I'm confident that the Australian government and the US government will continue to support each other in ensuring that we can implement our strong immigration and border protection policies," Bishop said.

"The Australian government is working very closely with the administration and the US officials and we want to ensure that Australians continue to have access to the United States, as they have in the past, and people from the United States have access to Australia."

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