16 December 2015

Data61: Embracing Australia’s digital research potential

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In a joint press release in August 2015, Former Minister for Industry and Science, The Hon. Ian Macfarlane MP and former Minister for Communications, The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull announced the creation of a new CSIRO entity, Data61 Combining the research, innovation and technology spin out power of the CSIRO and NICTA.

The 1000 strong research team based at Data61 also featured in Prime Minister Turnbull’s Innovation Statement in December 2105, with the announcement of $75 million over four years to the data research arm of the CSIRO subsidiary.

In a recent interview with the Australian Financial Review – Entrepreneur Adrian Turner slams Australia’s oligopoly mindset, November 1 2015 - the newly appointed Chief Executive Officer of Data61 expressed his belief that Australia could capitalise on the next wave of computing.

Mr Turner also said the fastest-growing trend in world technology was the creation of data-driven technology businesses that benefited from “platform economics.”

“It’s platform economics – it’s the fact you have got data-driven businesses with algorithms that sit at the centre of them that become smarter with data feedback loops,” Mr Turner said. “The participants in the platform are creating value on top of the platform that makes it more valuable to every other participant.”

With both the CSIRO and NICTA world-renowned in the space of digital innovation and with a demonstrated ability to take home-grown technologies to market, DATA61 combines the best of both organisations, creating an internationally-recognised digital research powerhouse that will benefit Australian industry as it reaches into new global markets, generating new opportunities for job and growth in Australia.

At the time of the announcement of the creation of DATA61 Prime Minister Turnbull in his role as Minister for Communications highlighted the benefit to the country of having a single national organisation focused on data-driven research.

“Having a single national organisation will enable DATA61 to produce focussed research that will deliver strong economic returns and ensure Australia remains at the forefront of digital innovation,” he said. “The new combined entity will continue to train Australia’s future digital technology leaders through the enhanced PhD programme, with more than 300 technology PhD’s enrolled at partner universities.”

On a recent trade mission to Israel, Mr Turner said Australia was well placed to capitalise on the next wave of computing but needed to first shake off its “defensive” approach to research and development. Highlighting the differences between how research and development is undertaken in other countries with Australia’s more inward-focused business sector, Mr Turner stressed the need for Australian organisations to look outward to global markets if it wanted to shake off the oligopoly structures that have formed the traditional way Australia does business.

“I think Data61 has a role to play in collaborating with the universities and partnering to bridge invention and research from unis into industry,” he said in his November 1 2015 Australian Financial Review article. “The global corporations view Australia as a sales and marketing arm, we don’t do product management.”

It’s this structural issue that Australia needs to overcome if it is to take its place at the forefront of innovation and data-driven disruption.

Adrian Turner will be delivering the opening Keynote Address at Akolade’s Australian Government Data Summit, being hosted at the Rydges Capital Hill, Canberra on March 22nd -24th 2016. Mr Turner will be delivering an address entitled: Introducing Data61, a new federally funded digital innovation research hub. Mr Turner will highlight the implications of Data61 for Australian government data management practices.

To find out more about Akolade’s Australian Government Data Summit 2016 or to secure your place to hear more from one of Australia’s most successful technology entrepreneurs about the future of government data-driven research and innovation click here


Mike Cullen has recently returned to Akolade after a period as the conference producer for one of Australia's leading economic think tanks. Mike began working in the conference industry in 2007 after looking for a career change from the high pressured world of inbound customer service. Mike has worked for some of the most well-known conference and media companies in the B2B space and in his spare time is working on his first novel in a planned Epic Fantasy trilogy.

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