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November 19, 2018updated 03 Jan 2019 3:05pm

Australia’s national science agency invests A$35m in AI and space tech

By Priya Kantaria

Australian AI and space tech industries will get a boost of A$35m of investment from Australia’s national science agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

A$19m is for AI solutions and machine learning in areas such as Australian and regional security, food security and quality and sustainable energy and resources.

The investment will contribute to research in data systems to enable ethical, robust and scalable AI.

The research will also focus on platforms to improve prediction and understanding of complex data and to enable trustworthy inferences and risk-based decisions.

A$16m is going to space technology to find new areas Australian industry can work in and “leapfrog” traditional technologies.

The focus will be on advanced technologies for Earth observation, and then space object tracking, resource utilisation in space and developing manufacturing and life support systems for missions to the Moon and Mars.

AI and space tech join Future Science Platforms portfolio

The A$35m investment brings space tech and AI to join eight other areas of future science in CSIRO’s Future Science Platforms portfolio, which dedicates research to new and emerging opportunities for Australia.

The portfolio aims to reinvent old and create new industries and grow the capability of a new generation of researchers through specially created student places in these future fields, which include health and energy.

The CSIRO Future Science Platforms programme was launched in 2016, and by 2022 will have invested A$205m in industry.

The investment will “give Australia an unfair advantage on the world stage”

CSIRO chief executive Dr Larry Marshall said: “Our Future Science Platforms (FSPs) aim to turn Australia’s challenges into opportunities, where new science can break through seemingly impossible roadblocks to give Australia an unfair advantage on the world stage.

“Innovation needs deep collaboration, so our FSPs bring together this nation’s world-class expertise across all fields of science, technology, engineering and maths to deliver real solutions to real-world problems.”

“CSIRO is here to solve Australia’s greatest challenges through innovative science and technology, and to do that we have to invest in the big thinking and breakthrough research that will keep us ahead of the curve.”

Goal to triple Australia’s space sector to A$12bn by 2030

The CSIRO funding for space tech builds on the momentum created in Adelaide in South Australia, which hosted the International Astronautical Congress in September 2017.

At the congress, attended by 4,400 industry delegates, the Australian Government announced it would form a national space agency to grow the A$4bn industry.

The newly formed Australian Space Agency’s goal is to triple the domestic space sector to A$10-12bn by 2030.

The space agency and now the CSIRO investment in space tech build on CSIRO’s Space Roadmap for Australia, which outlines the key players and strategic opportunities for the national space industry.

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