The DSI was established in 2010 within the University of Melbourne. It is funded jointly by the State Government of Victoria, the Commonwealth Government’s Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) and the University of Melbourne.  The Defence Science Institute harnesses the capabilities of Victoria’s universities to deliver integrated multi-disciplinary  solutions for the defence sector and facilitate the growth of defence science research networks between academia, DSTO and defence industry.

The Defence Science Institute is run by the DSI Executive. The Executive is guided by an advisory board and a research leaders forum, and it oversees five research programmes that align to Defence research priorities. Each programme is led by a senior researcher from DSTO or Academia, who oversees the establishment of DSI research projects. DSI has supported over 50 research projects and invested more than $1 million dollars into research and research-related activities within the state of Victoria.