AgResearch-CSIRO collaboration on Responsible Innovation

September 13th, 2022

A project to co-develop Responsible Innovation that is relevant on either side of the ditch

Project Duration: April 2020 – June 2022

Growing young maize seedling in cultivated agricultural farm field with modern technology concepts


Building international collaboration for Responsible Innovation in AgTech development

The Challenge

How will researchers and innovators across Australasia ensure that principles of Responsible Innovation (RI) are in scope when new technological innovations are developed? And how will they consider the longer-term impacts of their efforts?

Digital agricultural technologies can change the nature of farming. They can influence production (through automation, optimisation of plant scheduling, crop monitoring and grassland management), harvest and yield, and traditional on-farm labour. At the same time, the inability of some agricultural stakeholders to be part of the transition to digital agriculture could result in further inequality across the industry and a loss of competitive advantage in international trade. Policy makers, investors, founders and large companies worldwide are prioritising investment in digital AgTech to address various sustainability issues and establish new market opportunities.

In this project, we are focussing on examples of digital agricultural technologies (AgTech) that are increasingly in use today – for example, autonomous farm machinery, robots, drones, precision GPS application of seed and fertiliser, and commodity tracking data analytics for improved logistics – to help develop user-friendly and responsible processes of innovation.

Responding to the Challenge

CSIRO’s Responsible Innovation Future Science Platform (RI FSP) and AgResearch (New Zealand Crown Research Institute) are co-developing and documenting a trans-Tasman RI perspective, based on literature and empirical analysis, suitable for peer-reviewed publication. Researchers hope to begin to build a shared understanding across these two science organisations based on cross-country insights.

This project will provide a critical step for establishing AgResearch’s Responsible Innovation Enabling Platform and in supporting domain-based translation of research from CSIRO’s RI FSP. Stakeholders will engage in RI research through virtual workshops and work to lay the foundation for future AgResearch-CSIRO collaboration by building collective capability in RI in Australasia.

Project Impact

This collaborative research aims to accelerate the development of a uniquely Australasian perspective on RI theory and practice, including the incorporation of Indigenous knowledge and worldviews in agricultural settings.

The following impacts are expected upon completion of the project work:

  • an Australasian dialogue on RI, applied to digital AgTech, across two public research organisations, with relevance to research and innovation policy development
  • a common understanding of the opportunities and challenges each organisation (and country) face regarding the application of RI to their respective innovation systems.

The foundational capability for collaborative data collection and analysis on RI in digital AgTech is central to both organisations’ vision for future science and technology.


CSIRO: Simon Fielke (Project Leader), Justine Lacey and Emma Jakku; Collaboration partner, AgResearch: Martin Espig, Susanna Finlay-Smits and James Turner

Wiley Virtual Special Issue Call for Papers: The quest for responsible digital agri-food innovation:

Related Projects

CSIRO Digiscape Future Science Platform:

AgResearch research program New Zealand Bioeconomy in the Digital Age:

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