Genome 2019: Australian startup ecosystems slide in international report – Lack of consistent focus reflected in national tumble

9 May, 2019

9 May, Australia: StartupAUS has called for renewed focus on supporting Australian technology in light of a new ranking of international startup ecosystems. The Startup Genome Global Startup Ecosystem Report ranks Sydney as the 23rd best startup ecosystem in the world, down 6 places from 2017’s rankings. Melbourne, the only other Australian ecosystem analysed by Genome, was placed outside the top 30.

The results come after a steady decline in political focus on innovation since the 2015 National Innovation and Science Agenda, which saw $1.1bn allocated to startups and innovation.

StartupAUS CEO Alex McCauley said, “This result is disappointing, but it’s not a surprise. In 2015, Australia’s leading ecosystem was 16th in the world. That slipped to 17th in 2017. Now, after some years in the political wilderness, the rest of the world is overtaking us. Reports like this remind us that local growth is great, but this is a global race with very real prize money and lots of competitors. We need consistent, long-term support to ensure we’re a genuine contender.”

“At the end of the day, this is not a niche issue about hipsters in cafes playing with their laptops. This is about ensuring that Australia is a country where good ideas can flourish into global companies. If we don’t have that right, we will not prosper in the 21st century. It’s as simple as that.”

It wasn’t all doom for Australia’s local technology sector, however. The Genome report identified positive growth in both Sydney and Melbourne and while this did not arrest a slide down the international rankings, both ecosystems gained ground in absolute terms. Investments in startup infrastructure and system-wide improvements including a huge influx of capital into venture capital firms were not taken into account in these numbers, but are likely to have an impact further down the track.

“Despite the falling rankings, having any city’s ecosystem inside the top 30 is an achievement. Only 16 nations in the world can claim that. And Melbourne was specifically listed as a high growth ‘Challenger’ to the top 30”, Mr McCauley noted.

“We have had some large capital raises by venture funds in Australia that are yet to be deployed into the ecosystem, so there’s a lot of dry powder ready to go. Across the country, startup precincts like the Sydney Startup Hub or The Precinct in Brisbane have been built and populated over the last couple of years, and they’ll be producing results for their local ecosystems and the country for years to come. Alongside strong organic growth, we would expect these positive fundamentals to start to deliver performance boosts in the medium term.”

“It’s entirely within our power to turn this thing around. There’s no reason why Australian ecosystems shouldn’t be rapidly climbing these rankings. We just need to be consistent in our approach.”

Deputy Vice Chancellor of Innovation and Enterprise at the University of Technology Sydney, Professor Glenn Wightwick, has highlighted both the need for a consistent, long term approach to supporting startup ecosystems, and to strengthen collaboration between the startup ecosystem, business, research and education in Australia.

“We know the jobs of the future in Australia will be shaped and created through the ideas, the innovation and ingenuity of our graduates. And as the country’s largest tech and startup ecosystem, Sydney needs a pipeline of the best talent, ideas and research from across the entire education system.”

“UTS is proud to see Sydney’s high ranking for talent by Startup Genome, particularly in an ever-competitive global arena. We champion the approach of startup ecosystems working side by side with universities. Our innovative UTS Startups program is growing the next generation of startup founders and providing Sydney’s ecosystem with the talent to solve global problems at scale. Moreover, our support of the NSW Government’s Sydney Innovation and Technology Precinct will ensure that Australia’s startups have a home in Sydney to flourish for a long time to come.”


PR Contact: Sophie Hanson | 0417927316 |

About StartupAUS: StartupAUS is Australia’s national startup advocacy group, working to support the tech community and accelerate the growth of Australian startups. That means making Australia one of the best places in the world to build and grow a tech startup. StartupAUS focuses on trying to get the big picture right for Australian startups – improving the regulatory environment, building a case for the right sort of Government support for a fast-growing sector, and increasing public awareness of the impact of tech startups across the country.

About UTS:
As a leading public university of technology recognised for our global impact, UTS is known for our industry focus, practice-based teaching and learning and real-world research. With a state-of-the-art campus and facilities, we’re preparing students to become global thinkers, leaders and innovators. Entrepreneurship is also at the heart of the student experience at UTS. Over the next five years, we will provide more than 50% of our students with entrepreneurial experiences and support. We pride ourselves on driving innovation, and bringing together startups, incubators, research, education, and industry to create the future.

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