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$305 million to fund research for Australian industry

29 June, 2006

CSIRO's Chief Executive Dr Geoff Garrett has welcomed the Prime Minister's announcement of additional funding for the organisation's National Research Flagships as part of the Government's Building our Future through Science and Innovation program.

The Government has awarded additional funding of $305M over the next seven years. This is in addition to the $20M provided to CSIRO last year to support the Flagship initiative which the Prime Minister launched in April, 2003.

Over the next four years $800M will be invested in the Flagship program - $155M new government monies, $400M of redirected CSIRO funding and an estimated $245M of leveraged external funding. Over the next seven years this investment will be close to $1.5 billion.

"The Flagship initiative is one of the largest targeted scientific research programs in Australia's history," Dr Garrett says.

"Flagships are Australian science aiming high, the toughest challenges, the strongest teams, the most audacious goals. They are about helping deliver the best future we can envisage for all Australians through partnerships and collaboration. National Research Flagships are a great example of Australians working together to deliver on the Governments National Research Priorities. The Flagship initiative brings together science and industry across the nation to tackle some of Australia's major challenges including preventative healthcare, water, food, energy, wealth from oceans and light metals."

The goals of the National Research Flagships are:

- Preventative Health
- To improve the health and well-being of Australians and save $2 billion in annual direct health costs by 2020 through early diagnosis and prevention.
- Water for a Healthy Country - To achieve a ten-fold increase in the social, economic and environmental benefits from water use by 2025.
- Food Futures - To transform the international competitiveness and add $3 billion annually to the Australian agrifood sector through the application of frontier technologies to high-potential industries.
- Wealth from Oceans - To position Australia by 2020 as an international benchmark for the delivery of economic, social and environmental wealth based on leadership in understanding ocean systems and processes.
- Energy transformed - To halve greenhouse gas emissions and double the efficiency of the nations new energy generation, supply and use, and to position Australia for a future hydrogen economy.
- Light Metals - To lead a global revolution in light metals, doubling export income and generating significant new industries for Australia by the 2020s while reducing environmental impact.

Dr Garrett says the Flagships are already delivering.

"The Preventative Health Flagship has initiated a revolutionary new way to deliver special nutrients and drugs to specific parts of the body where they will have the greatest effect," he says.

"The Food Futures Flagship is working on identifying barley genes that are able to produce resistant starch which will eventually allow us to breed wheats, by conventional means that can help prevent bowel cancer. The Light Metals Flagship is pioneering a radical new process that could cut the cost of producing titanium metal by up to half. The process is already working in the laboratory.

"CSIRO must undertake science that is relevant to Australia's needs, and must continue to help Australia grow, both economically and socially. It is about providing answers to the complex problems that lie ahead," Dr Garrett says.

"Flagships are also trailblazing new ways to deliver science and technology to industry, government and society - recognising that knowledge unapplied can be knowledge wasted, and that the competitive advantage goes to the nation which is swiftest to adopt.

"On behalf of CSIRO, I would like to thank the Government for its ongoing support and commitment to Australia's premier science research agency.

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