CSIRO gets $150m WLAN fund

Revenue from wireless LAN patent settlements to go towards new investment fund

Up to $150 million garnered from wireless LAN patent settlements will be invested by the Commonwealth Science Information and Research Organisation (CSIRO) as part of a new Science and Industry Endowment Fund.

Launched by the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator Kim Carr this week there will be three initial grants – $2 million will be used for the endowment of a professorial chair in wireless research in a joint appointment between the CSIRO and Macquarie University; $10 million has been earmarked for the expansion of research in wireless technologies at CSIRO; and $7.5 million will be used over two to three years to establish fellowships across ICT disciplines.

(See a slideshow of some of the CSIRO's greatest ICT hits.)

The use of the remaining $130.5 million will be decided by an advisory committee led by CSIRO chief executive Megan Clark and five others including representatives from CSIRO, the University of Western Australia, and the Australian Research Council.

“The Science and Industry Endowment Fund will support fundamental scientific research with potential to benefit Australia, as well as research aimed at solving major challenges facing us today and in future," Clark said in a statement.

Earlier this month it was revealed that revenue from wireless LAN settlements boosted the financial fortunes of CSIRO to the tune of $205 million in the year to June 2009.

According to the organisation’s annual report the WLAN settlement helped turn a budgeted deficit of $34.2 million over the same period into a surplus of $122.0 million. Total external revenue was $634.8 million exceeding the budget of $420.6 million by $214.2 million.

In April the organisation settled out of court a claim that 14 companies, including HP, Microsoft, Intel, Dell, Netgear, Toshiba, 3Com, Nintendo, D-Link and Buffalo Technologies, had infringed a US patent held by the CSIRO over its IEEE 802.11a and 802.11g Wi-Fi products.

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