Department hosts major international research infrastructure meeting

Wednesday 17 February 2016


The Australian Government Department of Education and Training recently hosted the seventh Group of Senior Officials on Research Infrastructures (GSO) Meeting in Sydney.

The meeting brought together international delegates to discuss policy and create opportunities for collaboration. The meeting, held on 1-2 February, was important for Australia as the chairmanship of the GSO moved from Germany to Australia.

The GSO was established under the auspices of Science Ministers from the Group of Eight (G8) countries as an important international policy forum for global research infrastructure. Along with representatives of the G8 (France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Japan, the United States, Canada, and Russia) the group includes representatives from Brazil, the European Commission, India, Mexico, the People’s Republic of China, South Africa and of course Australia.

Australia’s chairmanship is an important recognition of our commitment to the international research infrastructure community and provides the opportunity to lead work that will deepen collaboration with global research infrastructures. Our participation creates a great opportunity to showcase our national research infrastructures to our international colleagues and key policy makers. The meeting in Australia kicked off with a tour of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) and provided a great opportunity to not only showcase the facility but also great Australian-based science and research.

The Department also hosted a complementary, satellite forum to build on the expertise present for the GSO meeting and to reach out to countries in Australia’s region. The Research Infrastructure Forum, held on 3 February, was attended by GSO delegates and delegates from Indonesia, Malaysia and New Zealand along with national research infrastructure facility managers from Australia’s National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) network. Delegates actively shared common experiences of developing and managing research infrastructure policy on a national and international scale.

Acting Deputy Secretary Jessie Borthwick welcomed the delegates to the Forum and discussed the importance of international collaboration, research excellence and international education.

A highlight of the forum was the keynote address by Dr Alan Finkel AO, Australia’s new Chief Scientist. We were honoured and delighted that he chose the Research Infrastructure Forum as his first public address. Dr Finkel took the opportunity to emphasise the importance of research infrastructure to great science and the role he will play in mapping long term research infrastructure needs as he leads the 2016 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap.

The Forum included site visits and presentations for delegates at major NCRIS facilities such as the Sydney Institute of Marine Science as part of the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS), the Multi-modal Australian Science Imaging and Visualisation Environment and Australia’s contribution to the international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project.

Read the Chief Scientist’s speech here