Innovation and Skills

Australia’s highly educated, multicultural and multilingual workforce has the smarts and skills to drive innovation and grow international businesses.

Ranked the fourth smartest country in the world by INSEAD, Australia is a nation of entrepreneurs. The Australian startup ecosystem is robust and growing, with strong capabilities in fintech, edtech, medtech and agtech.

Australia is:

  • ranked 7th in the world for global entrepreneurship, with around 45 per cent of Australian firms active in innovation 
  • involved in cutting-edge research, with world-leading niche capabilities in disruptive technologies such as automation and quantum computing
  • a highly skilled nation, where over 40 per cent of the workforce has a tertiary qualification
  • culturally diverse and multilingual, where 30 per cent of Australians are born overseas and 27 per cent speak an Asian or European language.

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

World's 4th smartest country

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 www.austrade.gov.au)

Record of Innovation
1. Record of Innovation
Australia is an ingenious nation: the country invented the black box, penicillin for civilian use, high-speed wi-fi, the cervical cancer vaccine and Google Maps, among other innovations. Entrepreneurship is on the rise in Australia; it is one of nine OECD countries that recorded an increase in the number of new businesses between 2013 and 2017. Almost half of all Australian firms are innovation-active, laying the groundwork for future discoveries.
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An Innovative, Highly Educated Nation
2. An Innovative, Highly Educated Nation
Australia has a highly educated workforce with the skills to service a diverse range of industries. Australia’s knowledge- and technology intensive industries add more value to its economy than the knowledge- and technology-intensive industries of France, Germany, Japan and South Korea. The quality of Australia’s infrastructure, human capital and research, and scientific research institutions are ranked in the world’s top 10.
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Leading Economy for R&D Expenditure
3. Leading Economy for R&D Expenditure
Innovation and science are major contributors to Australia’s economic, cultural and social advancement. In 2017–18, the Australian Government is investing A$10.3 billion in research and experimental development. Australia’s R&D expenditure places it among the world’s leading innovative countries, including the USA, Japan, Germany and South Korea. Australia’s gross R&D expenditure has increased on average by 8.5 per cent a year in real terms since 2000, well above the OECD average growth rate of 4.8 per cent.
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BM2018 - S3_SKILLS AND INNOVATION_pg30
4. Australian Industry Drives R&D Expenditure
Australia’s annual gross expenditure on R&D is one of the fastest-growing in the world, having risen 8.5 per cent per annum between 2000–01 and 2015–16. Business expenditure on R&D accounts for 54 per cent of Australia’s total R&D expenditure, expanding from A$5 billion in 2000–01 to about A$17 billion in 2015–16 – a compound annual growth rate of eight per cent since 2001.
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Australian Scientific Research has Major Impact
5. Australian Scientific Research Has Major Impact
Australia’s scientific research publications averaged a relative impact of at least 20 per cent above the global average in almost 82 per cent of the 22 scientific research fields in the Essential Science Indicators classification. Australia’s seven strongest categories of published research – physics, space science, multidisciplinary, computer science, clinical medicine, engineering and environment/ ecology – reflect the country’s diverse research interests.
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Top Ranking Academic Institutions
6. Top Ranking Academic Institutions
Australia has six universities in the top 100 in the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) 2017: the University of Melbourne, the University of Queensland, Monash University, the University of Sydney, the University of Western Australia and the Australian National University. The number of Australian universities listed on the ARWU top 500 rankings has increased from 14 in 2004 to 23 in 2017.
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Culturally Diverse Labour Force
7. Culturally Diverse Labour Force
Almost 30 per cent of Australia’s 12.2 million-strong employed persons was 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.
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Diversified, Services- Based Workforce
8. Diversified, Services-based Workforce
Eighty-eight per cent of Australians are employed in the services sector. Over 40 per cent or five million people work in sectors where tertiary education is standard for many employees, including education and training; professional, scientific and technical services; financial and insurance services; health care; information media and telecommunications; and public administration.
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A MultiLingual Population
9. A Multilingual Population
International companies can tap into a multilingual workforce across Australia. Twenty-seven per cent (or 6.4 million) of the nation’s population speak an Asian or European language. Almost 3.2 million (or one in seven) Australians speak an Asian language – more than 900,000 speak a Chinese language and 800,000 speak a Southern Asian language – and 1.4 million Australians speak a European language.
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