CSIRO at Expo 2020 Dubai: Positioning Australia as an innovation catalyst
CSIRO and the Australian Pavilion
From October 2020 to April 2021, Australia will join more than 190 countries at Expo 2020 Dubai for a global showcase of commerce, culture and innovation. The first to be held in the Middle East, Expo 2020 Dubai stands to be the largest World Expo in history, providing Australian business with a global platform from which to explore trade and investment opportunities, including in one of the world’s fastest-growing regions.
Australia will also showcase its world-leading scientific and research capabilities, including the expertise of Australia’s national science agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).
CSIRO is partnering with the Australian Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai to promote Australian research, technology and expertise to the global expo audience and position Australia as an innovation catalyst.
CSIRO, THE UAE AND MENA REGION
The UAE is a leading transport hub, providing a gateway to the world. In addition to its strategic location, the collective wealth of the UAE (USD$427.9 billion)  and its young demographic offer strong opportunities for research business partnerships.
Nick Pagett, Director of Global at CSIRO, explained that the “growing and diverse economy” of the UAE and MENA region was creating many “emerging opportunities”. CSIRO is currently exploring opportunities to collaborate with researchers in the region on projects encompassing energy, solar cooling, health, biosecurity, water management and agriculture. Future partnerships between Australia and the UAE and other MENA nations stood to significantly benefit Australia and the region.
Mr Pagett said that above all else, CSIRO had experienced “the region’s willingness and appetite for collaboration in research and innovation”; a testament to the desire of the UAE and region to continue to innovate and grow.
“We see Expo 2020 Dubai as a platform to build the profile and visibility of Australian research and innovation in the region and beyond,” Mr Pagett said.
EXISTING PARTNERSHIPS IN THE MENA REGION
Since 2011, CSIRO has been partnering and co-authoring publications with UAE and MENA researchers which have gone on to have a lasting impact.
CSIRO has extensive research in areas such as water management, agriculture and sustainable urban systems, which are highly relevant to the MENA region. Take the example of Kuwait, who experienced a serious challenge with crude oil and saltwater contamination affecting the soil and groundwater, particularly within the Raudhatain and Umm Al-Aish aquifers located in the north of the country. The scale of the issue required extensive research, modelling and testing, not only to remedy the situation in the short-term but also to introduce long-term preventative measures to future contamination.
Collaborating with the Kuwait Institute of Scientific Research (KISR) and the Snowy Mountains Engineering Company (SMEC), CSIRO-led research and recommendations have been introduced which have made significant headway in alleviating the contamination issues and have had a profound positive impact on the health and wellbeing of the affected communities.
The pursuit of improved human health and wellbeing is something CSIRO has long-championed. One of their milestone projects has made significant headway in the global effort to eradicate mosquito-borne diseases. CSIRO has developed a method of sterilising male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes (one of the most common disease-spreading mosquitoes in the world) and releasing them into the wild, reducing populations by up to 80 per cent.  Collaborating with the King Abulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), CSIRO was able to provide management strategies on controlling and preventing vector-borne diseases in Saudi Arabia utilising their new discovery.
Founded in 1916 under an act of Parliament, CSIRO engages internationally in scientific study to help solve local and global issues in various fields, including environment, climate, international health and energy and resources. With 5,500 staff worldwide, CSIRO is no stranger to international engagement in the pursuit of making the world a better place. Alongside offices in Chile, the USA, Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia, CSIRO has realised the enormous potential of collaborations with the UAE and MENA region.