Partnerships: national & international

Collaboration – National and International Partnerships

Enhancing the network of collaboration is vital to the space and spatial growth agenda. Collaboration unlocks innovation, builds critical mass and increases national resilience. Australia has a long history of collaboration in the national and international science community including those of space and spatial. Figure 6 depicts conceptual ecosystem of Australia’s collaboration with Space and Spatial sector.


CSIRO has a long and proud history of national collaboration on space and spatial sciences for industrial and public good activities going back 60 years. CSIRO Centre for Earth Observation (CCEO) is the hub for our national and international earth observation activities. CSIRO are a member of the inter-agency Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) and an Australian delegation member to the intergovernmental Group on Earth Observation (GEO). The CCEO worked closely with Australian government partners to host the 2019 GEO Ministerial Summit. The Centre also plays a key role in our international engagement with the global EO community.

The Centre for Earth Observation’s key priorities include :

  • coordinating internal communities of practice (SAR, hyperspectral, LiDAR), and liaison with domestic government
  • coordinating representation (including on boards and working groups) at international fora, such as GEO and CEOS
  • managing CSIRO’s requirements for satellite tasking, downlink and data distribution for the NovaSAR-1 satellite
  • hosting events to facilitate research collaborations for the EO community, including Symposia and workshops
  • overseeing the Cubesat technology demonstrator project, a collaboration with university and industry partners
  • researching new satellite sensor and on-board processing technologies and ongoing satellite calibration/validation

Geoscience Australia

Geoscience Australia has a long history of partnerships throughout government and with the publicly funded research sector and the private sector. GA’s DE is a platform that uses spatial data and images recorded by satellites orbiting our planet to detect physical changes across Australia in unprecedented detail.

DEA prepares these vast volumes of earth observation data and makes it available to governments and industry for easy use.

GA is delivering on Digital Earth Africa (DE Africa) which is building the world’s largest operational platform for accessing and analysing decades of satellite imagery specific to Africa’s land and seas. DE Africa will translate data from the world’s free earth observation satellites into ready-to-use insights about the continent’s environmental conditions. Such insights will enable African governments, NGOs, businesses, and individuals to make more informed decisions about soil and coastal erosion, agriculture, deforestation, desertification, water quality and changes in human settlements.

The South Pacific Regional GNSS Network (SPRGN) was initiated during Phase III of the AusAID funded South Pacific Sea Level Monitoring Project (SPSLMP). The SPSLMP was developed in 1991 as an Australian Government response to concerns raised by member countries of the South Pacific Forum about the potential impacts of human induced global warming on climate and sea levels.

A Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) uses space and ground infrastructure to improve the accuracy, integrity and availability of GNSS signals needed for vertical guidance. GA in partnership with New Zealand Government is fostering research and a test bed in the Pacific region. Its aim is to monitor vertical movement of the Earth’s crust in conjunction with tidal measurements as part of the SEAFRAME network located in the South Pacific Ocean.


Australia currently holds the Presidency of the United Nations Global Geospatial Information Management (UNGGIM) for Asia Pacific.

ECOSOC established the Committee of Experts as the apex intergovernmental mechanism for making joint decisions and setting directions with regard to the production, availability and use of geospatial information within national, regional and global policy frameworks.

Led by United Nations Member States, UN-GGIM aims to address global challenges regarding the use of geospatial information, including in the development agendas, and to serve as a body for global policymaking in the field of geospatial information management.

The tenth session of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM) was held, on 26-27 August and 4 September 2020 which announced the following initiatives which are highly related to space and spatial collaboration.

  • United Nations Global Geospatial Knowledge and Innovation Centre in Deqing, China
  • United Nations Global Geodetic Centre of Excellence in Bonn, Germany
  • United Nations Global Service Centre of the United Nations Office on ICT (UN OICT) in Brindisi, Italy

Defence Science Technology Group

The Defence Science Technology Group has evolved and expanded its approach to collaboration, within Australia’s innovation system and with international allies.

In the most recent strategy, the Minister for Defence outlines the strategic basis for enhanced R&D collaboration across all facets of Defence capability development and operations, including space.

“In a new era of strategic competition, the Defence strategy aims to ensure our defence force is technologically superior and fully integrated into a joint Australian force to be seamlessly interoperable with our Allies and partners globally. To achieve this we need seamless collaboration with our trusted industrial base and academic partners in Australia.” (More Together)

The strategy aims to drive transformation in the way Defence partners across the national S&T enterprise in order to achieve impact through strategic research. The headline program to achieve this outcome is the Science, technology and Research Shots (STaR Shots) program which includes Resilient Multi-mission Space as one of the eight focus areas. Defence clearly states that achieving the scale of effort to deliver impact across the critical task outlined by the Minister cannot be done without collaboration.

Australian Space Agency

The Australian Space Agency sees international collaboration as a critical enabler for Australian industry. It has established MOUs with nine international partner organisations and a large number of Australian and international companies.

The Australian Civil Space Strategy 2019-2028 sees international partnerships and collaboration, especially with national space agencies, as a mechanism to “open doors” and create business opportunities for industry through contribution to large scale space missions such as the NASA led Artemis Program and the UK Space Agencies International Partnership Program.


FrontierSI currently has 35 partners and its predecessor the Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information (CRCSI) had over 100 partnering organisations across both Australia and New Zealand.

FrontierSI has several international partnerships such as JAXA, Japanese space agency, EARSC (European Association of Remote Sensing Companies) and Copernicus (European Union’s Earth observation programme). FrontierSI has been a key player under the leadership of GA in SBAS, also partnering with the New Zealand Government.

Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute

The Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute, the peak Spatial Professional body in Australia has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the International Society of Digital Earth (ISDE).

The ISDE Leadership has been instrumental in developing the Big Earth Data in Support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (2020) . The report focuses on six SDGs including Zero Hunger (SDG 2), Clean Water and Sanitation (SDG 6), Sustainable Cities and Communities (SDG 11), Climate Action (SDG 13), Life below Water (SDG 14), and Life on Land (SDG 15).

The case studies present the use of earth observation data for developing data products, new evaluation methodologies and models to monitor progress and inform policy-making at local, national, regional, and global scales.

The SSSI’s International partnership with FIG (International Federation of Surveyors), ISPRS (International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing), OGC (Open Geospatial Consortium) and ISDE are crucial for capacity building and professional development are important components of spatial and space collaboration.

Further consideration of formal partnerships in multi-national collaborations, such as the European Space Agency (ESA), should be reviewed based on the opportunities and risks to industry growth. These are not straight-forward considerations and input is sought on the key issues to consider when forming collaborative partnerships, especially those involving creation of intellectual property with commercial value.

See also: Partnership options defined within the principles of National Sovereignty.