The Government launched 11 National Science Challenges in 2014 to tackle specific science issues and opportunities.

Each Challenge involves one or more CRIs, and four of them are hosted by CRIs.

Funding for the Challenges is provided by the CRIs, industry, universities and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).


A Better Start

Objective: To improve the potential of young New Zealanders to have a healthy and successful life.

Better Start is working to ensure young New Zealanders have a healthy weight, are confident at reading and learning, and that teenagers have greater access to evidence-based interventions for mental health conditions

Participating CRI: AgResearch


Ageing Well

Objective: To harness science to sustain wealth and well-being into the late years of life.

Ageing Well aims to add life to years for all older New Zealanders and push back disability thresholds to enable all to reach their full potential through the life course while recognising their resourcefulness.

Participating CRI: AgResearch.


Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities

Objective: To improve the quality and supply of housing and create smart and attractive urban environments.

Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities is improving housing stock, meeting future demand for affordable housing, taking up innovation and productivity improvement opportunities, improving current and future environments and residents well-being, and creating better systems for improved land use decisions.

Participating CRIs: GNS Science, Scion


Healthier Lives

Objective: To reduce the burden of major New Zealand health problems.

Healthier Lives aims to achieve equity in health for all New Zealanders by undertaking innovative research on cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity, and focusing on translating its innovations for effective health policy and practice

Participating CRIs: AgResearch, ESR. 


High-Value Nutrition

Objective: To develop high-value foods with validated health benefits to drive economic growth.

High-Value Nutrition is enabling the transformation of New Zealand's food and beverage industry to become exporters of high-value products with scientifically proven health benefits.

Participating CRIs: AgResearch, Plant & Food Research. 


New Zealand's Biological Heritage

Objective: To protect and manage New Zealand's biodiversity, improve our biosecurity and resilience to harmful organisms.

New Zealand's Biological Heritage researches ways to reduce rates of incursion or establishment by foreign invader species, and to enhance and restore the resilience of vulnerable ecosystems to prevent biodiversity loss and mitigate the effects of global change

Participating CRIs: ESR, GNS Science, Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research, NIWA, Plant & Food Research, Scion.

Host CRI: Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research. 


Our Land and Water

Objective: To enhance primary sector production and productivity while maintaining and improving our land and water quality for future generations.

Our Land and Water researches ways to gain greater value from key aspects such as global markets, innovative resilient land and water use, and building collaborative capacity, and connecting these drivers across a multi-disciplinary approach.

Participating CRIs: AgResearch, ESR, GNS Science, Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research, NIWA, Plant & Food Research, Scion.

Host CRI: AgResearch. 


Resilience to Nature's Challenges

Objective: To enhance New Zealand's resilience to natural disasters.

Resilience to Nature's Challenges is improving New Zealand's ability to anticipate, adapt and thrive in the face of ever-changing natural hazards by developing technical resilience solutions and applying them in high-priority geographic and economic settings

Participating CRIs: NIWA, Scion. 


Science for Technological Innovation

Objective: To enhance the capacity of New Zealand to use physical and engineering sciences for economic growth.

Science for Technological Innovation is tackling New Zealand's big high-tech needs, integrating three related 'capacity' components: technical (science and engineering), human (people and their skills), and relational (networks between researchers and industry)

Participating CRIs: AgResearch, GNS Science, Scion. 


Sustainable Seas

Objective: To enhance utilisation of our marine resources within environmental and biological restraints.

Sustainable Seas is developing knowledge and tools to underpin ecosystem-based management (EBM) which enables researchers to provide decision-makers with up-to-date information about cultural, economic, social and environmental values

Participating and host CRI: NIWA. 


The Deep South

Objective: To understand the role of the Antarctic and the Southern Ocean in determining our climate and our future environment.

The Deep South is aligning five linked programmes connecting society with scientists, and combining community engagement with a world-class earth systems model to better predict New Zealand's climate and its impact on key economic sectors, infrastructure, and natural resources.

Participating CRIs: Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research, NIWA.