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Australia’s startup ecosystem rises in the global ranks, with Sydney leading the way

Stephanie Palmer-Derrien /

Forget encryption bills, talent gaps and R&D crackdowns, Australia is actually officially becoming a more attractive place to launch and run a startup, according to the StartupBlink Startup Ecosystem Rankings 2019 report.

The latest StartupBlink research comes two years after its inaugural ecosystem ranking report, released in 2017.

In that time, Australia has leapt forward six places, to become the fifth-most startup-friendly country in the world.

StartupBlink analyses tens of thousands of data points on registered startups, accelerators and coworking spaces, as well as from selected partners, to create an algorithm to track momentum and trends in ecosystems.

Countries and cities are given a score based on the number of startups and supporting organisations, the quality of those startups and supporting organisations, and the business environment in general.

In the 2019 report, the top four countries remain unchanged, with the US taking the top spot, followed by the UK, Canada and then Israel.

Australia is fifth, jumping a massive six places from 11th last year.

In sixth place, the Netherlands has also increased nine places since 2017.

Countries that have not fared so well include Denmark, which slipped from seventh to 16th, Singapore, which fell 11 places from 10th to 21st, and China, which fell from 12th place to 27th.

The report attributes Australia’s success partly to the creation of a new unicorn, Canva, in the market since the first report.

It’s unclear whether the research was conducted before Aussie startup Airwallex also achieved unicorn status in March this year.

However, the report also notes the apparent importance of being an English-speaking nation.

Four of the five top countries are English speaking, and those in fourth, sixth and seventh place are all also countries with high levels of proficiency in English.

The US dominates the rankings. By way of comparison, the US has a score of 44, while the country in second place, the UK, scores 16.7.

There are also more than 400 US cities on the list, with San Francisco, New York, LA, Boston and Chicago all appearing in the top 10.

No other country has more than 50 cities appearing on the map, the report says.

In Australia, Sydney takes the crown, coming in at 19th in the world.

This is 16 places higher than its Aussie rival, Melbourne, which dropped five places in this year’s ranking to 35th place. Sydney, on the other hand, jumped six spots.

While Brisbane climbed 31 places in the ranking to reach 87th place, Perth tumbled from 110th place to 136th.

Adelaide, however, entered the top 150 cities, globally, making a massive leap from 227th place to 143rd.

It may still be a modest placing for the South Australian capital, but it’s a testament to a renewed focus on innovation and startup development.

Home to startups such as Fleet, and now to the Australian Space Agency, the city has become something of a hub for spacetech.

Lot Fourteen, on the site of the former Royal Adelaide Hospital, is in the process of being transformed into an innovation space for fast-growing tech industries, and last year South Australia appointed its first chief entrepreneur, and announced the introduction of a new visa for startup founders.

In the ecosystem rankings report, StartupBlink chief executive Eli David made note of the importance location can play in the success of a startup.

“Many founders, myself included, have made the mistake of assuming personal effort is what determines success, regardless of location,” he wrote.

“This is not the case, and the fact that unicorns … are only clustered in a few locations proves that.”

Any startup journey is stressful, David writes. Having an ecosystem that’s supportive of startups, and having other founders — both successful and struggling — around you can be the deciding factor in success.

“If your ecosystem is underperforming, either lead it or leave it,” he advised.

“Do you feel like your local government does not support your local ecosystem, or worse yet, makes life difficult for entrepreneurs? Do yourself a favour, run away.”

NOW READ: The Sydney-Melbourne rivalry could stunt Australia’s startup growth, says StartupAus chief Alex McCauley

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Stephanie Palmer-Derrien

Stephanie Palmer-Derrien is the editor at StartupSmart. You can contact her at [email protected].

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