Working in collaboration with partners from across industry, research and government, CSIRO’s Data61 are building a range of tools to support innovation and boost industry-researcher linkages. At the centre of this is the D61+ Platform, which facilitates the aggregation, visualisation and discovery of research capability and innovation related data.
Encouraging industry-researcher collaboration has long been identified as a key factor in improving Australia’s innovation performance, with numerous reports recommending the development of a cross-sector linkage platform. However effort in this space was fragmented, with many different organisations (in the public and private sector) working on part of the solution in isolation, often not moving beyond the design stage. It was recognised that to create impact and scale, a collaborative effort leveraging existing assets was required.
Developed in just 17 weeks, the first beta version of the D61+ Platform was launched on 28th June 2017 by then Assistant Minister Craig Laundy. The guiding principle was “done is better than perfect”, as having a live platform was vital for demonstrating the feasibility of the approach and locking in support from important stakeholders. This short development timeframe was also made possible by the open collaboration model, with the Australian Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, IP Australia, The Conversation and Clarivate Analytics contributing ideas and data. In addition to these foundation partners, there is an ever growing list of over 50 collaborators from across industry, research and government contributing to the platform’s development in a variety of ways.
Following the 2017 beta launch, significant further work has occurred, with the platform now incorporating three key elements: Expert Connect, Innovation Challenges marketplace, and InnovationMap.
Designed to boost industry-researcher collaboration, Expert Connect is a publicly searchable database of Australia’s research expertise. The platform has automatically created more than 50,000 expert profiles from over 220 research organisations by drawing together authoritative data sources, including; patents, grants, journal articles, media articles and author profiles (from The Conversation), and researcher profiles (including from ORCID).
The ingesting and merging of this data is ongoing and automatic, with each new item added to the relevant profile without manual intervention. Therefore there is no need for researchers to create or update their Expert Connect profile.
Anyone can search for a topic of interest using simple, non-scientific language, and find the most relevant Australian researcher(s) to connect with. The platform also considers both academic expertise and industry nous, presenting users with a list of relevant experts that are most likely to understand their business context (instead of prioritising search results solely based on journal publications).
Rather than needing to know the research expertise they require, users can instead post details of the problem they are looking to solve on the Innovation Challenges marketplace. The platform then identifies relevant experts and encourages them to propose a solution. This means industry and government get their challenges in front of the right experts, and researchers get visibility of key end user challenges and priorities. The marketplace also aggregates other relevant opportunities into a central place, making it easier for potential problem solvers to find them.
InnovationMap provides an interactive, geographic visualisation of innovation related data. Built on Data61’s TerriaJS platform, InnovationMap allows users to overlay multiple datasets to build up a rich picture of a region and observe how it changes over time. The data remains hosted at its original source, but is drawn in and visualised as required.
The InnovationMap is currently displaying Australian Innovation Precincts and selected innovation data by region. Plans are underway to also show other relevant data on the map, including; research capability in different fields (drawn from Expert Connect profiles), research infrastructure, and incubators/accelerators.
Taking an agile approach, work is occurring daily to enhance the data matching, improve and add functionality, and scale the platform globally. All D61+ Platform data is also freely available via open API, allowing any organisation to showcase Australia’s research expertise (or a subset of it), or innovation challenges, on their own platform.
Australian research expertise and innovation data is just the start. Building on the current datasets, the D61+ Platform is expanding globally. Functionality is also under development to support other uses of the platform, including:
- automated tracking and reporting of industry engagement activities by researchers
- mechanisms for industry to engage researchers
- search functionality for PhD students looking to find potential supervisors
In line with open innovation principles, collaboration will remain key to the ongoing development of the platform. As we continue to scale, the team are very interested to hear about useful datasets, and receive input on platform functionality or partnership opportunities.
This article originally appears in the 2018 University Industry Innovation Magazine Issue 3, which can be downloaded in full for free here.
Zoe Piper is the Partnership Lead at CSIRO’s Data61. Zoe also serves as the Director of the Canberra Innovation Network.
Rebecca Hinton is the Partnership Project Manager at CSIRO’s Data61.
Image credit: CSIRO