South Australia outperforms most other developed economies on indicators relating to the quality and economic impact of business startups, according to a new report compiled by the University of Adelaide’s Entrepreneurship, Commercialisation and Innovation Centre (ECIC).
Figures released in the 2017/18 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor report for South Australia estimate that 9.1 per cent of adult South Australians aged between 18 and 64 were actively engaged in starting or running new businesses.
South Australia ranked number nine of the 24 developed economies for early-stage entrepreneurial activity – higher than the UK (8.4 per cent) but lower than the rest of Australia (12.2 per cent) and the USA (13.6 per cent).
University of Adelaide’s Professor Paul Steffens, the lead author of the Australian section of the world’s largest study of entrepreneurship, said people are often surprised when they hear just how entrepreneurial Australia is compared to other countries.
“The GEM study is unique in that it identifies entrepreneurs at the very earliest stages of new business creation and provides an opportunity to benchmark against other countries on a wide variety of indicators,” he said.
“For South Australia, a few areas stand out as particularly strong. Youth entrepreneurship is 9.6 per cent across SA compared with only 7.6 per cent across Australia.”
Youth was defined as 18 to 24 years of age in the report, while seniors were bracketed between 55 and 64.
“Senior entrepreneurship is also relatively strong, 7.8 per cent in SA compared with 9.3 per cent across Australia. SA also compares well with the average across all GEM developed economies, which sits at 5.9 per cent.”
The report’s findings were anecdotally backed up at InDaily’s 40 Under 40 awards last night. The awards highlight the state’s outstanding businesspeople under the age of 40.
Aaron Superina, the owner and director of the landscaping business Outside Ideas, was named the First Among Equals for exemplifying all the attributes celebrated in the 40 Under 40.
Superina, who started his business at the age of 19, has built his wheelbarrow-and-shovel business into the biggest landscaping company in South Australia.
“The most important thing to me going forward is growing the business while maintaining staff culture and satisfaction, and continuing to make Outside Ideas a great place to be,” he said.
Steffens said that while South Australia rates well on many indicators there was still work to be done to bring South Australia up to the national average.
“The lower level of entrepreneurship compared with Australia appears to be driven by a poorer perception of entrepreneurial opportunities, 43.1 per cent in SA compared with 51.4 per cent across Australia,” Prof Steffens said.
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“The rate of female participation in entrepreneurship is particularly low, at only 5.6 per cent in SA compared with 9.2 per cent across Australia. Only 30 per cent of South Australian founders are female, compared with 37 per cent across Australia.
“SA entrepreneurs also appear on average less educated in some key areas compared to those across Australia. Only 29 per cent of SA entrepreneurs have studied STEM (science, ICT, engineering or mathematics) compared with 52 per cent across Australia.”
South Australian Minister for Innovation and Skills David Pisoni said the GEM report confirmed the importance of state government support for entrepreneurship.
“This report is a useful tool for identifying specific areas of opportunity, such as developing initiatives to support greater diversity and inclusion in our entrepreneurial ecosystem,’’ he said.
“The initiatives we’re delivering to build a stronger entrepreneurial ecosystem in South Australia are building towards our goal of becoming the nation’s startup capital.
“They include the establishment and activation of a world-class innovation and startup hub (FIXE) at Lot Fourteen, appointment of a Chief Entrepreneur, Jim Whalley, and the Entrepreneurship Advisory Board, and introduction of the Supporting Innovation in South Australia (SISA) migration visa — which actively brings seed stage startups to our state to develop their ideas.”
This story was first published by The Lead South Australia.