On Monday, 25 March 2019, CSIRO co-hosted the Inaugural U.S.- Australia CTO Innovation Dialogue with the Council on Competitiveness in Sydney, Australia.
The Dialogue brought together leaders from the Council on Competitiveness and its “Technology Leadership & Strategy Initiative”, CSIRO, the Australian Advisory Board on Healthcare and Technology Competitiveness, with U.S. and Australian delegates from the defence, agriculture, finance, mining, manufacturing, communications and health care sectors to co-create pathways for innovation collaboration between our two countries in an era of exponential change, turbulence, transition and transformation.
The Dialogue focused participants on: mapping over-the-horizon innovation challenges and opportunities; exploring the frontiers of disruptive technologies; creating new communities of innovators; building infrastructure to support 21st century innovation; and picking up the pace of commercialization.
Key threads spanning these issues included: identifying strategies to develop, attract and retain global best-in-class talent; cultivating and supporting diversity of knowledge, experiences and non-linear thinking; strengthening support for capital intensive research and industrial efforts; and leading the world in articulating the ethical underpinnings of exponential technologies.
The discussions made the case for the development of a more robust and strategic innovation engagement between Australia and the United States, centered on common purpose and mission – scaling beyond individual-to-individual efforts, to growing sustained, organizational partnerships to drive long-term security, productivity and prosperity.
Particular attention was placed on the key role industry must play in driving innovative outcomes – within the context of a rich, collaborative ecosystem of universities, national laboratories and research organizations.
U.S. – Australia CTO Dialogue participants defined a set of parameters to help shape a future agenda and projects:
1) In undertaking a proposed effort, are we better off doing so together? Can we clearly identify mutual benefit?
2) Can a proposed effort clearly engage individual companies, universities, labs and/or other stakeholders in specific, value-creating activities?
3) Will a proposed project be transformational, clearly differentiated in the market and society?
4) Is it preferentially better to undertake a proposed project between the United States and Australia?
Dialogue participants concluded by agreeing to develop action groups – and to explore meeting again in Washington, DC in November 2019 – to develop a program of work to move forward efforts like:
1) Creating collaboration principles that bolster innovations in areas of common mission and strategic importance to the long-term competitiveness of both nations (e.g., building next-generation microelectronics and cyber infrastructure, supporting the future of quantum computing and artificial intelligence, developing the hydrogen economy, advancing personalized healthcare, etc.)
2) Developing a common framework for ethics in the use of exponential technologies.
3) Articulating and sharing innovation best practices in both nations.
4) Exploring how CSIRO and the U.S. research enterprise – including the U.S. Department of Energy national laboratories – can create a framework to open up to one another key facilities, talent, etc.
The Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt said “I would like to recognise the innovative, dedicated, contribution and participation of the Australian Advisory Board on Technology and Healthcare Competitiveness, along with its three co-chairs; Dr Larry Marshall, Dr Jane Wilson, and Charles Kiefel OAM.”
‘Their passion and commitment to developing an international collaboration between two great nations targeting long-term security, productivity and prosperity is commendable.”
“Most importantly, this Dialogue opens the door to greater investment in Australian medicines technologies and devices. In the end this is about saving lives and protecting lives through better technology and better access for Australian patients,” Minister Hunt said.