Food and agriculture and advanced manufacturing have been identified as two of six areas where science and technology could be used to help restore economic growth and resilience in the recovery from COVID-19.
The COVID-19: Recovery and resilience report from CSIRO highlights job creation and investment opportunities in six key industry areas: agriculture and food; energy; health; mineral resources; manufacturing; and digital technologies.
The report highlights the trends and national advantages COVID-19 has created, and how these Australian industries can capitalise on them over the next 6-24 months and beyond.
CSIRO CEO Dr Larry Marshall said science and technology create economic growth and opportunity for all Australians. These areas are where Australia has an opportunity to build on its current strengths to differentiate and lead internationally, he said.
Marshall said: “At this pivotal time in our history, the inclination is to batten down the hatches and postpone investments, when actually we need to double down on Australian innovation, because science and technology can drive our recovery from this pandemic-led recession and land us back in a much stronger position.
“COVID-19 has disrupted every element of our lives, and while the devastating loss of life can’t be understated, we have an opportunity to determine the new kind of Australia we want to emerge from this crisis.
“Just as science and technology have been guiding our health and emergency response, so too will they drive our economic response and recovery from this pandemic.”
The report makes a case for five key foundations for this growth:
- investment in science and adoption of technology;
- growth of tech-based export industries;
- cultural shifts needed, including workforce development;
- collaboration across research and industry; and
- stronger emphasis on triple-bottom-line outcomes.
“Science excellence can only be translated into national benefit when it’s surrounded by a strong innovation ecosystem of partners working together on taking solutions from science to customers in market,” Marshall said.
CSIRO Futures lead economist Dr Katherine Wynn said by acting now, Australian industries could increase productivity and cost efficiencies as well as create additional revenue from products, services and markets over the next few years.
Wynn said: “Energy efficient technologies is one immediate way to reduce energy costs, emissions and demand on the grid while creating local jobs, and we see many opportunities for increased productivity, such as energy efficient appliances in buildings and electric vehicles in transport that use mature technologies that are readily adoptable today.
“The manufacturing sector could maximise its local manufacturing capabilities, creating jobs and adding value to Australia’s growth sectors, particularly in pharmaceuticals, food and beverage manufacturing, mineral resource processing as well as in space and defence.”
Longer term opportunities are also identified as Australia starts to take steps towards building a resilient and future-proof economy from 2022 and beyond.
It found Australia has huge opportunities to meet growing global energy demand and influence how this demand is met, including through low emission energy sources and creating the world’s first clean hydrogen energy export industry.
The report consolidates key findings from CSIRO’s industry roadmaps and the Australian National Outlook to provide a timely update on a path towards a brighter future for Australia.
The full report is here.