The National Institute was founded in 1984 as a private economic research and consulting group.

The National Institute of Economic and Industry Research Pty Ltd is an Australian Private Company. It is a trustee for the NIEIR Research Foundation (a not-for-profit education and research trust). The National Institute of Economic and Industry Research grew out of the Econometric Forecasting Project established at the Melbourne University Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research in 1974.  The Project used state-of-the-art forecasting techniques – particularly econometric modelling- to develop short-, medium- and long-term forecasts of economic activity at industry level.   Dr Peter Brain (the Institute’s co-founder and Executive Director) is a key figure in this work and as part of this work developed the IMP (Integrated Multi-purpose) Model, an input-output model of the Australian economy.

The Institute formed at a pivotal time for the Australian economy.  Australian policy makers were increasingly adopting more free-market oriented views towards the role of government and its interaction with the private sector.  These views led to the floating of the dollar and moves towards the deregulation of financial markets.  These events provided a greater need for high-quality economic research and forecasting services and the Institute’s staff, with its established track record from its work in the project, was well placed.

The National Institute’s funding is acquired solely through the provision of client services. The Institute is not supported by any separate corporate sponsorship or government grants. The Institute is independent of all party political interests.