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Newcastle company delivers for new $188 million telescope

ASKAP telescope
ASKAP Telescope

Newcastle business, government and community leaders joined members of the CSIRO Board in April at CSIRO’s Newcastle site to discuss opportunities for collaboration across the full range of research conducted at the national science agency.

The Board hosted guests including Newcastle-based specialist electronics manufacturer Puzzle Precision, who are about to complete work building receivers for CSIRO’s $188M next-generation radio telescope, the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP).

The ASKAP telescope, in remote Western Australia, will soon move into full operation and be used by astronomers across Australia and around the world to explore the Universe.

Chairman of the CSIRO Board, David Thodey AO, said Newcastle’s innovative culture and entrepreneurial spirit will continue to drive Australia’s national prosperity into the future.

“We’re very proud of the breakthroughs made at Newcastle’s Energy Centre, including work being done now to integrate renewables into the grid, store their power in next-generation batteries, and use big data to better understand the needs of the grid,” Mr Thodey said.

“But our Energy Centre is just the front door to the whole of the national science agency, from energy to space, manufacturing to agriculture, and many others.

“It’s great to see partnerships with local businesses like Puzzle Precision show how world-class engineering and research in areas like astronomy and space science can be turned into real-world impact when we work with local businesses, and grow our national space industry.

“CSIRO was created a century ago to solve the greatest challenges facing our nation, and Newcastle is a growing part of that story today.”

Puzzle Precision Director, Sandra Coburn, said working with CSIRO helped to further grow their expertise, as well as their business. 

“It has been a wonderful opportunity to be part of such a significant scientific project for Australia,” Mrs Coburn said.

“Collaborating with CSIRO has helped us to grow our business, increase our local workforce, and continue to improve the processes that are needed for advanced manufacturing.

“We have worked alongside CSIRO to understand the requirements of the ASKAP circuit boards and have developed the production techniques needed to build 20,000 of them. 

“This has opened new markets for us, and being part of the ASKAP project has also brought work to the Hunter for other small businesses.”

Last year CSIRO worked with 2400 partners, including 1000 small and medium businesses, 355 large corporates, and all Australian universities. CSIRO’s research spans agriculture, health, energy, minerals, manufacturing, space, and the environment, among others. 

CSIRO solves the greatest challenges through innovative science and technology, including: food security and quality; clean energy and resources; health and wellbeing; resilient and valuable environments; future industries; and a secure Australia and region.