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Australia slips in start-up ecosystem ranking

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Australia slips in start-up ecosystem ranking

Satellite image of Australia

A global ranking of the best places in the world in which to launch and grow a start-up has seen Australia lose ground, with only one Aussie city making the top 30.

Sydney was Australia’s best performer on Genome’s Global Start-up Ecosystem Report 2019 at 23rd place — down by six places on its result in 2017.

“Bangalore, Sydney, Stockholm and Berlin stand out for their relatively low levels of Funding Quality, driven by lack of local, experienced VCs compared to other ecosystems,” the report said.

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“Among top global ecosystems, the places most hindered in the rankings by a gap in early-stage funding are Vancouver, Sydney and Hong Kong.”

Melbourne was the only other Australian city to be analysed by Genome that did not appear in the top 30. Only those cities to appear in the top 30 had their individual ranking disclosed.

Top of the list, unsurprisingly, was Silicon Valley in the US, home to some of the world’s largest tech companies.

New York City came in second, with London and Beijing tied for third place. Boston in the US rounded out the top five.

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They were followed by Tel Aviv, Los Angeles, Shanghai, Paris and Berlin.

Apart from Sydney, only five other cities fell in the top 30 rankings compared with 2017. They were:

  • Berlin, Germany (down by three places to 10th)
  • Seattle, US (down by two places to 12th)
  • Singapore (down by two places to 14th)
  • Austin, US (down by three places to 16th)
  • Vancouver, Canada (down by nine places to 24th, falling behind Sydney)

At a regional level, North America continued to dominate the rankings, accounting for almost half (14) of the top 30 cities globally — 12 of which were in the US.

StartupAUS CEO Alex McCauley said that it was a “disappointing” result for Australia, though not a surprising one.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

Mr McCauley added: “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.”

In a joint statement with StartupAUS, the University of Technology Sydney’s deputy vice chancellor of innovation and enterprise, Professor Glenn Wightwick, said that Australia is in need of a consistent, long-term approach to supporting fledgling businesses, and one which fostered greater collaboration between the business, education and research sectors.

“We know the jobs of the future in Australia will be shaped and created through the ideas, the innovation and ingenuity of our graduates,” he said.

“And as the country’s largest tech and start-up ecosystem, Sydney needs a pipeline of the best talent, ideas and research from across the entire education system.”

StartupAUS’s Mr McCauley did say, however, that it “wasn’t all doom and gloom” for Australia, with positive growth recording in the technology sectors in both Sydney and Melbourne.

He also said that having any Australian city in the top 30 globally was also still an achievement in a highly competitive global marketplace.

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Adam Zuchetti

Adam Zuchetti

Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016. 

The two-time Publish Awards finalist has an extensive journalistic career across business, property and finance, including a four-year stint in the UK. Email Adam at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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