CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, is often the secret ingredient behind the things that have improved your life. They are a highly respected organisation and we engage with them regularly on up-and-coming research in Australia. Below are 27 things you may not know about this innovative Aussie agency:

  1. CSIRO was the first Australian organisation to start using the internet, which is why they were able to register the second-level domain csiro.au for their website (as opposed to .org.au or .com.au)
  2. Five agency scientists invented wireless LAN technology, these days known as WiFi, which is now used in more than five billion devices around the world


    Dr John O’Sullivan – the man who made WiFi possible. Image: Australian Geographic

  3. The word ‘petrichor’, which describes the distinct smell of rain, was invented by CSIRO’s own researchers Isabel Joy Bear and Richard Grenfell Thomas
  4. The agency is Australia’s largest patent holder with 3582 patents, 728 inventions and 275 trademarks
  5. CSIRO runs NASA’s spacecraft tracking facilities in Australia
  6. The world’s first effective influenza treatment, called Relenza, was invented by the agency in 1987
  7. CSIRO has established more than 150 joint ventures from their research
  8. CSIRO invented Aerogard between 1938 and 1961 to help keep flies off cattle and prevent disease – and even used it on the Queen when she visited in 1963. See BioPacific’s post on this invention here
  9. CSIRO grants around 80 new commercial licenses every year, like BARLEYmax, a low GI ‘supergrain’ with four times the resistant starch of regular grains


    You can find BARLEYmax on supermarket shelves across Australia and NZ. Image: Goodness Superfoods

  10. CSIRO stands for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation
  11. Staff and business partners often affectionately call the agency ‘siroh’
  12. ‘Siroh’ invented a permanent pleat for fabrics (yep, they saved you all that ironing)
  13. Boeing named CSIRO their R&D supplier of the year in 2011
  14. CSIRO earned more than $430 million in royalties for their WLAN invention
  15. In 2005, CSIRO scientists developed near-perfect rubber from resilin, the elastic protein which gives fleas their jumping ability and helps insects fly
  16. The agency invented extended-wear soft contact lenses as part of the Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) program. See BioPacific’s post on CSIRO’s work on lenses here
  17. CSIRO partners with more than 1800 Australian and 440 overseas companies every year to help them find ways to create new products, save money and improve productivity
  18. 2013 Australian of the Year, Dr Simon McKeon, is the Chairman of CSIRO’s Board
  19. Founded in 1926
  20. More than 60% of staff in the organisation hold university degrees and 2000 have a doctorate degree
  21. They also invented plastic bank notes – polymer currency that is now used in more than 30 denominations around the world – to help prevent counterfeiting and to last longer

    CSIRO banknotes

    CSIRO has even invented $7 bank notes. Image: CSIRO

  22. When producers of hit Australian comedy-drama film, The Dish, met with staff at CSIRO’s Radio Telescope in Parkes, the scientists initially thought the movie was just another documentary
  23. CSIRO has developed 100 varieties of cotton to help Australian farmers save water, reduce costs and cut insecticide use by 85%
  24. Worldwide, CSIRO is involved in more than 700 international research activities, like developing the first biomass powered refrigeration system to keep fruit and veggies fresh in rural India
  25. Invented Softly fabric softener
  26. The agency saved lives by developing the world’s first vaccine to prevent the spread of Hendra virus from horses to humans
  27. CSIRO developed computer models that deliver a 10x improvement in weather forecasting

By Lou Morrissey, Executive Manager of External Communication at CSIRO

This article originally appeared on CSIRO’s blog, and was reproduced with edits here with permission

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