Australia’s world-class universities are home to brilliant researchers, cutting-edge specialist expertise, and a strong ability to apply and commercialise knowledge with industry and community partners. They are a vast resource of research and innovation for business and research institutions.
Australia offers nearly A$70 billion in grants, incentives and funding pools to Australian-based companies across priority sectors.
Australia’s universities are at the global forefront of research in 20 critical fields, including space science, physics, computer science and clinical medicine. They’re a magnet for global talent and research and development partnerships.
Australian universities are consistently ranked among the world’s best, with 7 in the world’s top 100. This is reflected in our highly educated workforce, as 47% of workers have a tertiary qualification.
Australia provides opportunities for innovative businesses and smart individuals who want to be directly involved in the sector. It’s also the heart of our research and development ecosystem, directly supporting the many industries and technologies that are thriving in Australia.
With over A$18 billion a year of business expenditure on research and development in Australia, industry–university collaboration plays a critical role in the Australian economy and in innovation.
Our A$2.2 billion University Research Commercialisation Action Plan brings talented researchers together with the business community to supercharge the translation of Australian research into new commercial products, businesses and jobs. Initiatives under the plan include:
- A$1.6 billion to establish Australia’s Economic Accelerator grants, which will support university research from proof-of-concept and proof-of-scale through to commercialisation
- A$150 million in equity funding to expand the CSIRO’s Innovation Fund (Main Sequence Ventures), which progresses deep-tech and frontier technology projects with high commercialisation potential
- A$37 million to establish the CSIRO’s Research Translation Start program, which will take research from lab to market by building the entrepreneurial capacity of the research workforce.
As part of the plan, the government is also investing more than A$242 million over four years through the Trailblazer Universities Program to boost R&D and drive commercialisation. Select universities will attract dedicated investment to accelerate Australia’s innovation agenda, with a focus on priority sectors, industry partnerships and business engagement.
Australia offers numerous incentives for businesses that invest in R&D. Delivering almost A$3 billion each year to over 11,000 companies, the Research & Development Tax Incentive helps make Australia an attractive destination for innovative businesses.
We spend A$35 billion a year on research and development, placing us alongside the UK, Singapore and France as one of the highest spenders on R&D.
World-beating R&D hubs
Australia’s universities host some of the world’s leading hubs for research, development and training. Underpinned by a strong community of practice, these hubs will provide you with a forum to share your ideas and learn from the brightest minds in industry, academia, government and education. Find out more about Australia’s strengths in higher education research.
Australia is a trusted partner of international governments, multilateral organisations and multinational companies. Australia has more than 9,000 agreements and partnerships with universities globally, and the Australian Government funds targeted programs to support practical connections between academic researchers and industry.
The Australian Research Council (ARC) Industrial Transformation Research Hubs foster partnerships between universities and industry to produce world-leading research and real-world commercial outcomes.
The National Research Infrastructure Strategic Framework includes A$2.2 billion investment to address NRI priorities. This includes funding under the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy that drives research excellence and collaboration between 35,000 researchers, government and industry to deliver practical outcomes.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), our national science agency, is recognised internationally for its quality research and is Australia’s largest holder of patents. It works collaboratively across the nation, connecting industry to global supply chains.
Co-operative Research Centres (CRCs) also link industry with the research community and help commercialise new technologies. There are research centres and collaborative programs for most industries, including advanced manufacturing, fintech and health.
Support for research, development and commercialisation can also be accessed through bodies including the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, the National Health and Medical Research Council, Agricultural Innovation Australia, the Global Science and Technology Diplomacy Fund and regional innovation hubs.
‘The case for collaboration is increasingly compelling, particularly for companies seeking growth and new competitive advantage. Australian universities are now well-positioned to provide an extraordinary array of technologies and services to support companies. It is often the unexpected or flow-on benefits – such as access to graduates for employment, or introductions to other partners, suppliers, and customers – that make a collaboration with a university especially valuable for a company’
– Dr Peter Binks CEO, Business/Higher Education Round Table
- 31,000+ courses across 1,200 CRICOS registered institutions, including 39 comprehensive Australian universities
- Ranked 3rd most represented country for the number of universities in the top 100:
- 7 in the top 100 of the QS World University Rankings 2022
- 7 in the top 100 of the Academic Ranking of World Universities 2021
- Ranked 1st in the OECD for the average number of years of education achieved per person (21 years between the ages of five and 39)
- Ranked 1st in the world for parity of educational attainment between men and women
- 15 Nobel laureates graduated from Australian universities
- 680,000 international student enrolments in 2021, spread across secondary and tertiary facilities
- 90% of international students in 2021 were from Asian countries
- Spending on education in Australia exceeds the OECD average
- Ranked 6th for spending on higher education as a proportion of GDP among OECD countries
- Almost 90% of Australia’s research is rated at or above world standard
- With only 0.3% of the world’s population, Australia contributes 4% of global research publication
- Australia ranks 6th out of 31 OECD countries for number of scientific publications per million population, demonstrating Australia’s research efficiency.
- Australian universities ranked in the top 10 in the world across 11 fields of study: from earth and marine sciences, to mining engineering, law, nursing, politics and philosophy
A magnet for international students
We’re a popular international student destination, with around 680,000 international students choosing Australia for their secondary and tertiary education in 2021. Thanks to our attractive post-graduate visa options, many international students stay and work in Australia once they complete their studies. Australia is a vibrant country that welcomes people from around the world. Our international students join a millions-strong Australian alumni community.
Outstanding graduate outcomes
Australia has outstanding graduate outcomes: 86% of Australian Bachelor degree holders and 96% of Australian Masters by Coursework degree holders are employed within four months of graduation.
But we’ve also been very fortunate in that we’ve been able to attract highly talented people, from all over the world, who have helped to create a harmonious multicultural society in Australia. This diversity is injecting new energy into our education and research sectors – and creating momentum in our innovation ecosystem.
It’s an exciting time to live and work in Australia. I hope you’ll consider joining us.
At CSIRO – Australia’s national science agency – our innovation strategy is built on our diversity. We are one of the world’s largest multidisciplinary science and technology organisations, and our research covers the full breadth of the air we breathe, the land we grow, the water we drink, the food we eat, and the life we live.
Our more than 5,000 people across 50 sites have access to world-class national infrastructure – from supercomputers and telescopes to our Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness and Investigator Research Vessel – all responding to urgent challenges like pandemics, climate change, and industry transformation.
They collaborate generously with partners across industry, government and the broader research sector, both here and around the world, to help bridge the gap between lab bench and business and turn science into solutions that make life better for all Australians.
We have built an inclusive culture to drive our innovation, and we welcome people with diverse experience and backgrounds to help us solve the greatest challenges.
More than ever, science is a global endeavour. For the Australian research and commercialisation sectors to thrive, we need cross-fertilisation to generate new ideas all of the time.
And to create those ideas, we need people with skills and knowledge and life experience – people who are smart, forward thinking and ready to respond to the challenges ahead.
I am extremely proud and fortunate to be Australia’s Chief Scientist at this point in time, where there’s a surge in understanding of the benefits of investing in scientific endeavour and the value of those inputs. I for one am watching closely to see where we head next, and would encourage all to be part of that journey.
In my current role as Australia’s Women in STEM Ambassador, I coordinate a national plan of action to remove barriers to women’s full participation in STEM careers. It is great to have the wholehearted support of the Australian government, as well as the industry and research sectors in this exciting endeavour.
If you ask me, I’d say “go for it!”. Australia has a vibrant STEM sector and it is a fantastic place to live.
Without the Global Talent visa, Australia would otherwise be unable to access the unique knowledge, expertise and skills of these scientists who will make a significant contribution to innovation and the future of our nation.
I have felt secure to focus on my family when needed and extremely well supported by my employer to continue my rewarding work through periods of uncertainty. Here in Australia, I have found the work-life balance that had previously eluded me.
Australia is simply a paradise to live and work in, for a young family to grow with amazing opportunities and Aussie mateship.
Australia may be a long commute from most places, but it manages to stay well connected and a global leader in many areas of research and technology development.
Embracing the edtech revolution
Australians are tech savvy, digitally connected and highly educated and are naturally embracing the edtech revolution.
Our edtech sector almost doubled in size between 2017 and 2019 to become the second largest start-up community in the country behind fintech. There are more than 600 edtech companies in Australia generating A$2.2 billion in revenue and employing around 13,000 people.
And it’s not just schools and tertiary institutions enjoying an edtech revolution – the market for corporate and vocational learning products is growing rapidly too.
All of Australia’s established edtech companies and 84% of our late-stage start-ups export their products and services to global markets. Some of our world-class solutions, platforms and programs in the edtech space include Stile Education, 3P Learning, Cahoot Learning, Learnosity, Mathspace and OpenLearning. Our burgeoning digital games industry is providing skills and technologies in the edtech space.
- 600 edtech companies
- 13,000 people employed
- A$2.2 billion in revenue
- 100% of established companies exporting globally
- 84% of late-stage start-ups exporting globally
- Breakdown by education sector:
- 1% early learning childhood
- 42% primary and secondary schools
- 22% higher education
- 17% vocational training
- 18% workforce
Connecting, collaborating, accelerating in edtech
Opportunities for Australian edtech companies to support global education outcomes are growing and emerging rapidly. There are also increasing opportunities for international partners to work with, collaborate and invest in Australia’s edtech sector.
Edtech industry hub EduGrowth facilitates these connections and accelerates Australia’s edtech ecosystem globally. If you’re looking for investment or partnership opportunities in the Australian edtech space, you’ll find information on 100 of our most successful edtech exporters in the Australian EdTech Directory.
If you’re a start-up looking to get your edtech product off the ground in Australia, you’ll find support in one of the 110-plus incubators and accelerators housed within some of our top universities. These include Cicada Innovations, University of Melbourne Accelerator Program and University of Sydney Incubate.
Australian universities are good global citizens when it comes to tackling inequalities, living environment and climate change. This makes Australian universities attractive partners for collaborative research into sustainability, global development and technology. Our universities are ranked 2nd globally for having an impact on UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The world university rankings 2021: Impact on United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Source: The Times Higher Education, 2021, Impact Rankings
Source: The Times Higher Education, 2021, Impact Rankings
Resources and support
- Find out more about patents in Australia at Source IP - Australia's Innovation Marketplace
- Find the right researcher at Expert Connect
- Learned academies contribute to the pursuit of excellence in Australian innovation to help advise government on significant issues. They are supported by the Australian Council of Learned Academies. They include:
- The Higher Education Research Promotion (HERP) scheme provides annual funding for research promotion organisations
- The Australian Research Council’s (ARC) online data portal gives you access to:
- Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) – Australia’s national research evaluation framework
- National Competitive Grants Program
- National reports, impact studies and publications
Through a collaboration with online learning platform, FutureLearn, the Australian Government has been offering a suite of short courses by Australian Higher Education and English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students providers. Between April and end June 2020, this program attracted over 836,000 enrolments from all over the world.
Are you a talented individual working in education and research?
Get an idea of the kinds of skills and roles we’re looking for
To continue growing our thriving education ecosystem, we are looking for eminent senior academic staff (such as vice-chancellors, deans and heads of school), education-focused innovators and individuals with research commercialisation capabilities and connections with innovation hubs/precincts.
The following specialisations are intended to be used as a guide and are not an exhaustive list. The global talent profile provides examples of the calibre of individuals who may meet program requirements.