Medium Equipment Program Rd 2


The SIEF Medium Equipment Program Round 2 (MEP2) has achieved over $16.9m of investment in research infrastructure for Australia through CSIRO and its collaborators. The SIEF funding of $6.6m has catalysed and leveraged over 150% of co-investment to make possible the development of a range of facilities for research for the benefit of Australia.

Argo Float Fleet (deployed from Hobart, TAS)

The asset is a fleet of 162 Argo floats, deployed at sea and contributing to a global array. They generate data used to underpin operational ocean forecasts and seasonal predictions and for a vast array of research. In Australia, this includes forecasts produced by the Bureau of Meteorology for short-range forecasts and seasonal outlooks.

The fleet was co-funded the following collaborating organisations: Australian Antarctic Partnership Program; Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems CRC; Bureau of Meteorology; Department of Defence; and Integrated Marine Observation System. Each Argo float is deployed at sea and profiles between the ocean surface and 2000 m depth every 10 days for between 5 and 7 years, depending on conditions.

4D Micro-CT Characterisation System (ARRC Kensington, WA)

This system builds on an existing foundation of 3D X-ray characterisation capabilities at CSIRO’s Australian Resources Research Centre site in Western Australia. It serves to undertake multiscale, non-destructive imaging and characterization of natural and synthetic samples under variable environments with controlled conditions. Co-investment from Curtin University and the University of Western Australia supported development of this asset.

The upgraded system is the first of its kind in Australia and was the first one globally to be used for mineral resources applications. It contributes to providing the insights demanded by the resources industry, to better understand the geological processes leading to the formation of ore deposits and petroleum accumulations, and to optimise downstream processing of those resources.

Food Ingredient Process Innovation Platform (Werribee, VIC)

As an integrated platform of pilot-scale food processing technologies in CSIRO’s Food Industry Innovation Centre, this facility supports growing industry demand for new and sustainable manufacturing solutions across the value-chain to produce nutritious and healthy food products. It provides Australia with a novel and unique ingredient suite for value addition to commodity agricultural produce by transforming into quality nutritious functional food, beverages, and nutraceutical, supplement and cosmeceutical ingredients.

Beyond research and development, the state-of-the art technologies support stakeholder engagement and communication strategies. The facility has hosted a range of workshops and seminars for industry partners and stakeholders, along with collaborating researchers.

cGMP (protein) Biological Manufacturing Facility Equipment (Clayton, VIC)

The CSIRO Biologics Facility (CBF) has been designed and constructed in accord with the current licensing requirements of the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for manufacture of Investigational Biological Products under principles of Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP). The facility will be used by Australian academic and industry partners to develop new pharmaceuticals and address an unmet demand for local production and testing of new products to Australian standards.

To meet the future needs of Australian researchers, the facility has also been designed in accord with the requirements of the United States Federal Drug Administration (USFDA) and European Medicines Agency (EMA) for manufacture of Investigational Materials for clinical studies. This will provide Australian access to global clinical trial opportunities and a faster path towards a broader range of markets. CSIRO capabilities in the area have already been effectively deployed in two cutting edge science projects to manufacture vaccine supplies for Phase I clinical trials.

Procurement of the equipment and development of the facility was enabled by co-investment from industry partners Telix Pharmaceuticals Pty Ltd and in-kind support from GE Healthcare ANZ, now Cytiva.

CubeSat Earth Observation platform satellite (deployed from Marsfield, NSW)

The CSIRO Scientific Infra-Red Observing Satellite (CSIROSat-1) will be a pathfinder CubeSat mission to establish Earth observation capability. It will demonstrate innovative small satellite technologies including imaging sensors and advanced onboard data processing. The CubeSat is 3U in size, based on the standard modular ‘unit’ CubeSat configuration, and will be an Earth observation satellite with an advanced multispectral short-wave infrared (SWIR) imaging sensor.

Development of the asset, in collaboration with industry partner Inovor Technologies has been supported by University New South Wales Canberra, Australian National University, Defence Science & Technology, University of South Australia and Geoscience Australia and subsidised launch arrangements have been contracted with NASA. Unfortunately the project team has been confounded the lockdown and travel disruptions of the pandemic, on top of the technical challenges in developing the instrument, and it is yet to be completed. However, the team remains committed to deploying it for commissioning in a launch now scheduled for June 2023.

High resolution Noble Gas Mass Spectrometer (Adelaide, SA)

The instrument is a keystone in the Noble Gas Facility, supporting collaborative research on groundwater in programs such as the Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance and the Northern Australia Water Resources Assessment. In combination with the new Atom Trap Trace Analysis facility, in collaboration with the University of Adelaide, which targets ultra-low concentrations of argon and krypton isotopes, it is now possible to date groundwater samples from 1,000,000 years to just a few decades old, an unprecedented set of precise tools available to Australian scientists.

Heavy Ocean Towing System on Marine National Facility (Hobart, TAS)

This asset is primarily comprised of a fibre optic cable that will allow fully instrumented deployments of heavy towed equipment down to 6,500m on RV Investigator. It can enable two-way communication from the deck of the vessel to the instrument to facilitate data transfer including video stream and, in some cases, allowing to steer instruments remotely. Achievable depths on the pre-existing steel (non-instrumented) wire were up to 3,000m. The fibre optic cable has been installed on RV Investigator’s largest winch and provides a major capability upgrade for the vessel.

The new equipment enhances the capability of RV Investigator supporting a wide range of deep sea and seafloor research by facility users.

Virtual Laboratory for Cybersecurity Research (Canberra, ACT)

The Cybersecurity Virtual laboratory is developing and testing cutting edge AI driven automated solutions to secure and protect cyber systems from attack. This addresses two key vulnerabilities for Australia – the ever-increasing number of cyber-attacks (estimated to cost the Australian economy $17b per year) and Australia’s cybersecurity skill shortage. Australian SME’s are most at risk due to their size and lack of access to cybersecurity professionals.

The equipment represents an isolated, yet remotely accessible, computing environment for experimentation with potentially dangerous malicious code and the detection and treatment thereof. It enables projects building autonomic cybersecurity capabilities and undertaking collaborative research between CSIRO, universities and industries that will generate software-as-a-service solutions that can help to close the skills gaps and protect Australian businesses.