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Executive Director's report

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Dr Ross Wilkinson, ANDS

Ross WilkinsonData builds trust. When a group of farmers near Birchip in Victoria recognised the need to collectively diversify away from just wheat farming, they also recognised the need to trust each other.

Interestingly they decided to share tax returns – a very strong signal about their willingness to work closely together.

Unfortunately there is sometimes a contrast between this approach and some research and industry ‘collaborations’ in which a report is commissioned and paid for, under a cloak of confidentiality, but there is no deeper relationship. Partnerships between a research group and a company can be risky, as the aims and aspirations of the parties can be quite far apart.

But risk does not have to be blind. Sharing data might well enable stronger outcomes, but it can also be a tool for managing risks, by perhaps providing uncertainty about observations or the provenance of analytic data.

The National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA) provides new opportunity for innovation by industry, new data analytics out of CSIRO’s Data61, and new business derived from new ways of delivering data services. But to do this, the data being generated through the Digital Transformation Office, the rich data being delivered from our NCRIS data generating partners, and the data being generated from research projects need to be available for use by research, industry, education, government and the public.

Thus there is real value in making data reliable, connected and usable so that new data services can be established. IMOS is supporting the ‘blue economy’ through its work observing Australia’s coasts and oceans. Curtin University is supporting the next wave of mineral exploration through the Digital Mineral Library. AURIN is supporting urban economies by enabling a better understanding of our cities. These institutions and others across Australia are making research data more valuable in a wide variety of ways to support business and innovation.

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