Astronomy projects are unlocked for Australian industry


Australian manufacturers will now be able to bid for work in astronomy projects under the European Southern Observatory (ESO) Technology Development Program. 

Via an amendment to the Australia-ESO Strategic Partnership Arrangement, Australian industry and astronomy institutions will be able to tender for contracts, opening a new door to support Australian innovation. 

“We are backing new opportunities for local industry and institutions by helping them to tender for new technology development contracts,” minister for Science and Technology Melissa Price said. 

“Our nation has a proud history of investing in our astronomy sector. Australia’s capabilities in advanced manufacturing and research will be strengthened through ESO’s Technology Development Program.” 

The aim is to deliver commercial opportunities for local businesses, with the potential to extend beyond the astronomy sector. 

“This new facet of our Strategic Partnership with ESO will enable our highly-respected Australian institutions and businesses to contribute to global innovation and develop new technology,” Price said. 

The Technology Development Program offers about $1.5 million in competitive contracts each year to develop new astronomy technology for use by ESO, including new types of detectors, advanced optical coatings and new laser sources.  

“I am very pleased to be signing an amendment that strengthens the bonds between ESO and Australia,” ESO director general, Professor Xavier Barcons said. 

“By welcoming the country to ESO’s Technology Development Program, we open new opportunities for Australia’s research institutions and high-tech industries to develop exciting technologies together with ESO. I look forward to furthering the engagement between Australia and ESO through this agreement.” 

The federal government signed a 10-year Strategic Partnership with ESO in 2017, with a $129.2 million commitment. The Strategic Partnership enables Australia’s astronomy community to maintain their global standing and access several leading-edge optical telescopes at ESO’s La Silla Paranal Observatory in Chile.  

More information about the Australia-ESO Strategic Partnership can be found here.