The Global Startup Ecosystem Report for 2019 placed Melbourne, the only other Australian city to figure in the listing prepared by Startup Genome, an organisation that "supports forward-looking regions to catalyse their start-up ecosystems", outside the top 30.
Reacting to this, Alex McCauley, the head of Australia’s national start-up advocacy group, StartupAUS, 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.”
The Startup Genome report did identify positive growth in both Sydney and Melbourne, but this did not stop a slide down the international rankings. Both ecosystems gained ground in absolute terms.
StartupAUS said investments in start-up infrastructure and system-wide improvements, including a huge influx of capital into venture capital firms, were not taken into account, but were 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,” said 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, start-up 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, highlighted both the need for a consistent, long-term approach to supporting start-up ecosystems, and also the need to strengthen collaboration between the start-up 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," he said.
“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 start-up 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 start-ups have a home in Sydney to flourish for a long time to come.”
The report can be downloaded here after registration.