Innovation and Skills

Education, innovation and science underpin Australia’s economic prosperity and job creation.

Australia’s highly educated, multilingual and multicultural workforce has an entrepreneurial spirit. The country has world-leading capabilities in blockchain and quantum computing, and its robust startup ecosystem has strong competencies in agtech, edtech, fintech, foodtech and medtech.

The country is:

  • ranked 5th in the world for global entrepreneurship, with almost half of all Australian firms active in innovation
  • involved in cutting-edge research, contributing to over 4% of world research publications in 2017 despite having only 0.3% of the world’s population
  • a highly skilled nation, where over 40% of the workforce has a tertiary qualification
  • culturally diverse and multilingual, where 28% of the population was born overseas and 3.2 million Australians speak an Asian language and 1.4 million speak a European language.

Australia’s intellectual capital, commercial focus and collaborative approach make it an ideal partner for business and investment activities.

ranked 5th for global entrepreneurship

Charts from the Benchmark Report

The Australia Benchmark Report provides rich data demonstrating why there is no better place than Australia to do business. The report examines five key reasons for investing in Australia – Robust Economy, Dynamic Industries, Innovation and Skills, Global Ties and Strong Foundations – and compares Australia’s credentials with other countries.

Charts can be downloaded and saved as images for use in reports and presentations (when using please reference

1.  Record of innovation
Australia is a nation of inventors and entrepreneurship is on the rise. The nation’s rollcall of inventions, which includes high-speed wi-fi and Google Maps, speaks for itself. Australia welcomes investment in its intellectual capital to help lay the groundwork for future discoveries.
Download image
2.  An innovative, highly educated nation
Australia’s highly educated workforce has the skills to service a diverse range of industries. The 2018 Human Development Index ranked Australia third in the world – well above many other major developed economies and ahead of all members of the G7. The quality of Australia’s ICT infrastructure, its human capital and research, and scientific research publications are all ranked in the world’s top 10.
Download image
3.  Leading economy for R&D expenditure
Australia invests approximately US$21 billion on R&D (on a purchasing power parity basis). The nation’s R&D expenditure places it among the world’s leading innovative countries, including the USA, Japan, France, Germany and South Korea. Australia’s gross R&D expenditure has increased, on average, by around 6.8 per cent annually in PPP terms since 2000 – well above the OECD average growth rate of 4.8 per cent.
Download image
4.  Australian industry drives R&D expenditure
Australia’s annual gross expenditure on R&D is growing strongly, having risen around eight per cent per annum between 2000–01 and 2015–16 (in Australian dollar terms). Business expenditure on R&D accounts for 52 per cent of Australia’s total R&D expenditure, increasing from A$5 billion in 2000–01 to about A$17 billion in 2015–16.
Download image
5.  Australian scientific research has major impact
In 19 out of 22 scientific research fields, Australia’s scientific research publications averaged a relative impact of at least 20 per cent above the global average. Australia’s seven strongest categories of published research – multidisciplinary, space science, physics, computer science, clinical medicine, engineering and environment/ecology – reflect the country’s diverse research interests.
Download image
6.  Top ranking academic institutions
Australia has six universities in the top 100 in the 2018 Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU): the University of Melbourne, the University of Queensland, the University of Sydney, the Australian National University, Monash University and the University of Western Australia. Twenty-three Australian universities are listed in the ARWU top 500 ranking in 2018, compared with 14 in 2004.
Download image
7.  Culturally diverse labour force
Over 30 per cent of Australia’s 12.6 million-strong employed persons were born overseas. Many foreign-born employees are from Asia or Europe, enriching Australia’s reputation for culturally diverse workplaces and boosting the nation’s competitive edge in international business.
Download image
8.  Diversified, services-based workforce
Eighty-eight per cent of Australians are employed in the services sector. Over 40 per cent (five million people) work in sectors where tertiary education is standard for many employees. This includes: education and training; professional, scientific and technical services; financial and insurance services; health care and social assistance; public administration and safety; and information media and telecommunications.
Download image
9.  A multicultural population
Twenty-eight per cent of Australia’s population was born overseas in 2017 – the third highest percentage among OECD member nations. This ratio is up from 2000 when it was 23 per cent. Almost 3.2 million (one in seven) Australians speak an Asian language – more than 900,000 speak a Chinese language and 800,000 speak a Southern Asian language – while 1.4 million Australians speak a European language.
Download image