The Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA) will be investing $75m of Commonwealth funds over the next ten years to support industry-led research collaborations. The funding will develop new technologies, products and services which address industry issues in Northern Australia within three areas:

  1. Agriculture and food
    Removing barriers and improving supply and value chains for new and existing northern agricultural industries.
  2. Tropical health service delivery
    Identifying new models and approaches, early detection, health seeking behaviour and mental health.
  3. Traditional Owner led business development
    Identifying new models and approaches and building an industry ready skilled workforce in the fields of agriculture, food and/or health industries.

To achieve these aims the CRCNA will need to work closely with NT, WA and QLD governments; multiple agricultural and food businesses, private health providers, universities and, other research bodies, financial services companies, and regional development organisations.


The white paper on developing Northern Australia was released on 18 June 2015 and included $75 million over 10 years to establish a Cooperative research centre for developing Northern Australia (CRCNA). The CRCNA is a core element of the Australian Government’s agenda for developing the north.

The CRCNA will assist businesses, governments and researchers to work together to identify opportunities for business and growth in the north. The CRCNA will be industry led, located in the north, and have an initial focus on areas where the north has particular strengths, including agriculture, food and tropical health. It will bring together industry, research organisations, all northern jurisdictions and international partners in a collaborative industry-led R&D venture.

The CRCNA will build on existing research, expertise and networks to quickly identify areas where collaborative research can deliver real-world outcomes and commercial opportunities that will benefit industries in northern Australia. The CRCNA will also establish strong links with the Australian Government’s flagship Industry Growth Centres initiative.

Mr John Wharton AM was appointed as Interim Chair of the CRCNA in November 2015 to consult with stakeholders and develop a proposal for consideration by Government to establish the CRC. Mr Wharton undertook extensive consultations with industry, research and government from December 2015 to 31 March 2016 and provided his proposal to Government on 5 August 2016.

On 20 February 2017, the Australian Government announced the appointment of the inaugural CRCNA Board Members.

The Australian Government announced in April 2016 that the City of Townsville will host the administrative headquarters of the CRCNA.

Government funded round

The Government announced the opening of an early project funding round in advance of the establishment of the CRCNA.

Applications for the round opened on 20 February 2017 and closed on 22 May 2017.


The CRCNA has signed the CRC funding agreement and has commenced discussions with potential members. Jed Matz was appointed as CEO and the head office is being established in Townsville. The CRCNA will also have a presence in Darwin and WA (location yet to be determined).