As one of the world's largest mission-driven multidisciplinary science and research organisations, we are focusing on the issues that matter the most: for our quality of life, for the economy and for our environment.

When we all focus on the big things that really matter, Australian science and technology can solve seemingly impossible problems, and create new value for all Australians.


There are six challenges we are assisting the nation to overcome, and turn to Australia's unique advantage:

  • Food Security and Quality: Achieve sustainable regional food security and grow Australia's share of premium AgriFood markets.
  • Health and Wellbeing: Help enhance health for all through preventative, personalised, biomedical and digital health services.
  • Resilient and Valuable Environments: Enhancing the resilience, sustainable use and value of our environments, including by mitigating and adapting the impacts of climate and global change.
  • Sustainable Energy and Resources: Build regional energy and resource security and our competitiveness while lowering emissions.
  • Future Industries: Help create Australia's future industries and jobs by collaborating to boost innovation performance and STEM skills.
  • A Secure Australia and Region: Help safeguard Australia from risks (war, terrorism, regional instability, pandemics, biosecurity, disasters and cyber attacks).

The challenges were identified through analysis of our own trend modelling and forecasting, including the Australian National Outlook report, engagement with our partners in industry, government and academia, and a review of Australian and international priorities (including the Australian Science and Research Priorities and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals).

To assist Australia in responding to the challenges, CSIRO will work with the government, universities, industry and the community on a new missions program to bolster Australia’s COVID-19 recovery and build long term resilience. 

The program of large scale, major scientific and collaborative research initiatives, will be aimed at solving some of Australia’s greatest challenges, focused on outcomes that lead to positive impact, new jobs and economic growth.

"There has never been a more important time for partnership, because now more than ever, we need big, visionary programs that shift the needle."

Dr Larry Marshall, CSIRO Chief Executive

Seize the opportunity

As Australia rebuilds following the COVID-19 pandemic, we have a once in a generation opportunity to bring together broad coalitions around bold visions that reimagine our economies, our approach to health and wellbeing, and our environments.

To help seize this opportunity and tackle our greatest challenges we are co-developing missions; large-scale, impact focussed scientific and collaborative research initiatives aimed at making significant breakthroughs.

By coming together around shared goals, we can align research and development efforts occurring around the country to achieve more at a challenging time.

To join us or learn more about the opportunity, please contact us.


Missions will reach beyond what is possible today – due to their scale, ambition and collaborative nature mission proposals will take time to co-develop with partners in Australia (and in many cases globally).

Co-creation opportunities will be explored to help Australia achieve these outcomes: 

  • Increase our resilience and preparedness against pandemics
  • Mitigate the impact of disasters: drought, bushfires and floods
  • Create a hydrogen industry to generate a new clean energy export industry
  • Accelerate the transition to agile manufacturing for higher revenue and sovereign supply
  • Overcome our growing resistance to antibiotics, so they keep saving lives
  • Create a national climate capability to navigate climate change uncertainty
  • Help our farmers overcome drought, mitigate climate impacts, increase yield and profitability, create a sustainable future protein industry and leverage the world’s love of Australian-grown food to collectively drive our trusted agriculture and food exports to $100 billion
  • Use technology to navigate Australia’s transition to net zero emissions, without derailing our economy
  • Safeguard the health of our waterways by monitoring the quality of our water resources from space
  • Create new industries that transform raw mineral commodities into unique higher-value products like critical energy metals that build Australia’s value added offering, jobs, and sovereign supply
  • End plastic waste by reinventing the way plastic is made, processed and recycled
  • Double the number of SMEs utilising Australian R&D to become a collaboration nation.

“This is a great collaborative opportunity for SmartSat and the CSIRO to work together in enhancing our national capability and thus contributing towards meeting one of Australia’s major challenges and transforming our industries – We are excited to be partnering with CSIRO and the Missions Program.”

- Prof Andy Koronios, Chief Executive Officer SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre

"Great science starts with a vision, but vision alone is insufficient. The vision has to be backed by real commitment.  That's what the CSIRO missions are all about, and I hope their rallying call is heard far and wide."  

- Prof Alan Finkel, Australia's Chief Scientist

“ANU looks forward to working with CSIRO and its partners to co-design and deliver a national effort to help address some of the globe’s greatest challenges. At this moment, collaborative effort has never been more needed, and ANU will happily answer the call.” 

- Prof Brian Schmidt, Vice Chancellor of the Australian National University

“Missions set out a vision for Australia in a future we all can believe in – sustainable and science-led. The Missions are about coming together and using CSIRO science to make the most of Australia’s potential and having a positive impact on the world in light of the challenges we all face."

- Nick Hazell, v2food Founder and CEO

“The CSIRO Board fully endorses this Mission-led strategy and is committed to supporting the talented scientists and researchers at CSIRO, our universities and industry partners to work together on these challenges for the good of our Nation in these challenging times.”

- David Thodey AO, Chair of CSIRO


No mission will be designed or delivered by CSIRO alone.

To think big, we need to take a whole of system approach by engaging in true co-design and development with government, industry, researchers and communities.

What will missions do?

Missions will support Australia’s COVID recovery and help build our future resilience and prosperity by accelerating the pace and scale at which we can address our challenges.

Through missions we aim to create new industries and jobs, and reinvent existing industries building long-term resilience.

Missions will allow us to address national priorities such as drought and exploit Australian advantages such as hydrogen to build a new, sustainable energy industry.

Success will depend on strong collaboration across industry, research and governments.

Selection criteria for mission development

For missions to be selected for further development they will need to meet the following criteria:

  • Positive impact to the community and environment
  • Economic contribution and job creation
  • Contribution to Australian business including SMEs
  • Contribution to scientific excellence
  • Addressing at least one of six challenges facing Australia identified by CSIRO: food security and quality; health and wellbeing; resilient and valuable environments; sustainable energy and resources; future industries and a secure Australia and region.

Current areas where we are co-developing missions with partners

For the past year we have been working with partners across the innovation system to co-develop potential missions.

No missions are yet ready for launch and all are at different levels of maturity. To view the current progress on the missions in development see the documents below.

Current progress

Partner with us to tackle Australia’s big challenges

To join us or learn more about the missions program, please contact us