Australia is a great place to develop digital technologies. Our A$167 billion tech sector is growing fast: it expanded by 79% in the 5 years to 2021 (Why Australia Benchmark Report 2022).
Why Australia for Digital Technology Report 2023
This Austrade report highlights the benefits of building your digital technology business in Australia. It outlines Australia’s competitive advantages and expertise across the technology spectrum. This includes SaaS, fintech, cyber security, quantum, and digital games.
A thriving tech ecosystem: talented and diverse workforce, homegrown and multinational tech giants, access to venture capital.
World-leading universities and research institutions pushing the frontiers in emerging technologies including artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, remote sensors and cyber security.
A strong and transparent regulatory culture promotes innovation while protecting IP.
Generous incentives and funding pools.
A government committed to shaping and supporting open digital trade.
Advanced digital infrastructure, including the National Broadband Network, 5G operational bases, and cybersecurity, AI and quantum capabilities.
Your ideal launch market – we’re an advanced digital economy, a nation of early adopters and avid users of technology at home and at work.
Thinking about entering the Australian market?
- Investors typically establish a new company, register as a foreign company or acquire an existing company. Assess your options with our Investor Guide.
- Austrade is Australia’s national investment promotion agency. We attract and facilitate game-changing foreign direct investment into Australia. Our team of business and investment specialists can connect investors to early-stage opportunities in Australia and provide direct and tailored professional assistance. Find out how we can help.
Embracing open digital trade
The Australian Government is committed to open digital trade, making it your ideal location to grow a global tech business.
- Australia advocates for harmonisation of international digital trade standards to ensure broader market access. We’re an active participant in international bodies focused on standards including the International Organization for Standardization and the International Electrotechnical Commission.
- Australia also plays a leadership role in shaping global digital trade rules. We promote a rules-based and open global trading environment, which reduces trade barriers and delivers commercial benefits. We participate in in multilateral forums like the World Trade Organisation, United Nations, OECD, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and G20 and pursue ambitious Free Trade Agreement (FTA) outcomes on digital trade including bilateral agreements.
- For example, the Australia-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement (DEA) entered into force on 8 December 2020, reducing barriers to digital trade.
The Australian Government works internationally to ensure businesses benefit from the immense opportunities digital trade offers.
- If taken as one industry, the technology sector would be the third largest industry in Australia, accounting for 8.5% of Australia’s GDP (Source: Tech Council of Australia 2022).
- Australia’s digital competitiveness increased significantly in the 12 months to 2022. We now rank 14th in CEDA’s World Digital Competitiveness Ranking 2022.
- Australia ranks 1st in our region for government readiness to take advantage of artificial intelligence (AI) (Source: Oxford Insights 2022).
- Australia ranks 3rd in the world for 5G connected devices per capita (Source: Deloitte Access Economics Mobile Nation 2022: 5G Unleashed).
- Australia ranks 4th globally for investment in telecommunications (Source: IMD World Digital Competitiveness Ranking 2022).
- Australia ranks the 5th most powerful cyber nation (Source: National Cyber Power Index Report 2022).
- Australia ranks 5th in our region for seizing opportunity from technology (Source: Economist Intelligence Unit. Technological readiness country ranking 2023).
Video: Australia’s dynamic digital tech industry
From our highly skilled workforce, research expertise and government support, this video highlights why Australia’s tech sector is one of the fastest growing industries in Australia.
Our vibrant industries
Australia is a global leader in 5G rollout. We rank third in the world for 5G connected devices per capita (Source: Deloitte Access Economics Mobile Nation 2022: 5G Unleashed). By the end of 2021, 4,000 operational base stations had been deployed. By 2025, 95% of Australians will have 5G coverage (Source: Telstra 2021). We have the infrastructure and capabilities to be a test-bed for 5G innovation — in mining, healthcare, transport, utilities, and other industries. Australian governments provide incentives aimed at broadening regional 5G coverage including the Regional Connectivity Program, NSW Regional Digital Connectivity program and Connecting Victoria.
Australia generated the world’s 9th largest revenue in cyber security in 2022, growing around 9 per cent per year on average (AustCyber. Australia’s Cyber Security Sector Competitiveness Plan 2022). Australia is the world’s second most attractive destination for foreign direct investment for cyber security (Source: FDi markets via Austrade Insights. Investors will find talent, a strong research ecosystem, growing domestic demand for cyber products and services, and a launchpad - with a shared timezone - to Asian cyber markets. The Australian Government is developing its 2023-2030 Australian Cyber Security Strategy to make Australia the world’s most cyber-secure nation, supported by a thriving cyber ecosystem. Investors will find talent, a strong research ecosystem, growing domestic demand for cyber products and services, and a launchpad - with a shared timezone - to Asian cyber markets. The Australian Government is developing its 2023-2030 Australian Cyber Security Strategy to make Australia the world’s most cyber-secure nation, supported by a thriving cyber ecosystem.
Australia’s fintech sector ranks 6th in the world and 2nd in the Asia Pacific (Source: 2021 Global Fintech Rankings, Findexable). The number of fintech companies in Australia more than doubled between 2017 and 2021. KPMG’s Australian Fintech Survey Report 2022 suggests this creation of fintech companies is rapidly accelerating. Total investments were at A$3.6 billion in 2021.
The EY FinTech Australia Census finds Australian fintech companies are born global, with 40% of business revenue generated from international markets. The Australian Government actively pursues open trade. For example, the UK-Australia FinTech Bridge and Australia-Singapore Fintech Bridge help Australia’s fintech ecosystem directly engage with customers, investors and regulators with other fintech markets.
Australians are great fintech innovators and early adopters. We offer a highly skilled and multilingual workforce, advanced business infrastructure and a tech-savvy population. Almost two-thirds of digitally active adults use fintech products. It’s underpinned by our sophisticated, secure and stable A$10 trillion financial services sector (Source: Roy Morgan Banking and Finance Report 2022) and backed by a fintech-friendly regulatory regime. This includes Australia’s enhanced regulatory sandbox, which allows fintech firms to test their products before obtaining a full license. Australia is reforming its payments, digital assets and open data regulations to keep up with recent innovations.
Australia has 30+ years of global leadership in quantum research, with an innovative ecosystem consisting of 21 quantum focused research institutions, over 25 quantum focussed start-ups and a robust workforce. Australia is home to more than 3 per cent of global quantum startups, well above our 1.6 per cent share of global GDP (Source: Australian Quantum Alliance 2023). The Australian quantum industry attracts on average $14.4M in venture capital funding per deal, more than Asia ($13.8M), the US ($13.71M) and Europe ($7.6M) (Source: Austrade pitchbook analysis on 2018-2023 data). The Australian Government’s National Quantum Strategy outlines new opportunities for international partnerships and collaborations to grow the industry. Market projections from national science agency CSIRO forecast Australia’s quantum technology opportunity could reach A$2.2 billion in revenue by 2030 and A$6 billion by 2045 (Source: CSIRO 2022).
Digital services and enterprise technology
Digital technology has become fundamental to Australian businesses, the workforce and the economy. Australia’s digital technology sector is expected to deliver $250 billion in GDP by 2030 (Source: Tech Council Australia 2022). Enterprise software, SaaS and digital services are some of the biggest drivers for growth. Australia ranked fourth globally in attracting foreign direct investment into software and IT services between 2003 and 2020 (Source: Austrade FDI market analysis). In fact, almost half of our top digital services companies are foreign-owned, ensuring Australia’s digital economy reflects world-leading solutions and our workforce is globally competitive.
Incentives, grants and support
- The Australian Government is working to establish a new A$15 billion financing vehicle, the National Reconstruction Fund. It will drive investments into priority areas of the Australian economy including A$1 billion targeted at critical technologies.
- The Australian Government maintains a List of Critical Technologies in the National Interest. These include artificial intelligence (AI) technologies; advanced information and communication technologies; quantum technologies; and autonomous systems, robotics, positioning, timing and sensing. This list signals priority fields to, among other objectives:
- provide certainty to investors.
- help focus Australia’s international partnerships and collaborations.
- provides guidance for the development of investment mandates and co-investment plans for the National Reconstruction Fund.
- informs other priority setting mechanisms. This includes the National Science and Research Priorities, which in turn align efforts and investments in science.
- The A$9.9 billion project REDSPICE will bring opportunities for the cyber security industry. The investment in the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) will support cyber capabilities including advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning.
- A new A$101.2 million Australian Government investment into quantum and artificial intelligence will support businesses to integrate these technologies into their operations. This includes A$19.8m to set up an Australian Centre for Quantum Growth, which will support research and development of the quantum technology industry in Australia.
- Australia’s first National Quantum Strategy sets out a long-term vision for how Australia will take advantage of the opportunities of quantum technologies. A new National Quantum Advisory Committee will guide the National Quantum Strategy to drive industry growth.
- The Australian Government is investing $3.4 billion over the next decade to establish the Advanced Strategic Capabilities Accelerator (ASCA) focused on defence innovation.
- Available tax incentives include a research and development tax offset, and incentives for early-stage investors in innovative companies.
- The Department of Industry, Science and Resources administers a suite of business innovation grants and initiatives that support research, entrepreneurship and commercialisation.
- Individual states and territories also offer numerous grants and incentives for tech businesses, including the Innovation Booster Grant in WA, Investment NSW offers grants in New South Wales, the A$2 billion Breakthrough Victoria Fund to support commercialisation.
- Fintechs will find that Australia’s regulatory agencies take an innovation led approach to new business models and assets classes. As a founding member of the Global Financial Innovation Network (GFIN), the Australian Securities & Investment Commission (ASIC) supports pathways for foreign fintech companies to operate within Australia. ASIC’s Innovation Hub helps fintech startups navigate the regulatory system. The enhanced regulatory sandbox lets businesses test a wide range of products and services for 24 months without needing a financial services licence or a credit licence.
- The Australian Government is working with industry on a coordinated effort to target of 1.2 million tech-related jobs by 2030.
Homegrown heroes & global giants
Australia is home to multiple global digital success stories including rare unicorns – startups worth more than US$1 billion.
- Less than 10 years after it was founded, Australian design software company Canva reached a peak valuation of $US40 billion in 2021.
- Buy now, pay later company Afterpay was acquired for a history-making A$39 billion in 2021.
- Other Australian tech sensations include Aconex, Airwallex and Atlassian.
We’re also a magnet for international companies.
- US tech giants like Adobe, Amazon and Microsoft all have deep roots in Australia.
- Google is so confident in Australia’s digital future it is investing A$1 billion over five years in Australian infrastructure, research and partnerships through the Digital Future Initiative. Australia is one of just a handful of countries Google has chosen for such a significant investment. It launched Google Research Australia in 2022.
- Emerging unicorns such as Dataiku, Snowflake and Eventbrite are rapidly growing their Australian teams.
- Multinationals including Hitachi and Boeing use our cutting-edge facilities.
All are capitalising on our research talent and business-friendly regulatory environment.
Join our thriving ecosystem
- Two Australian universities - the University of New South Wales and the University of Melbourne - are in the top 50 universities worldwide for technology and engineering. Six universities in total are in the top 100 (QS University Rankings 2023).
- Seven Australian universities are in the global top 100 for computer science (Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2023).
- Our national science agency CSIRO has partnered with industry for more than 100 years, developing innovative solutions from smartphone apps and robotics to satellites and sensors. Data61 is its data and digital specialist arm. And CSIRO leads the National Artificial Intelligence Centre, which coordinates Australia's expertise and capabilities in AI.
- Australia offers innovation precincts and industry clusters across the country, with dedicated accelerators and incubators that attract innovators and foster networks:
- In NSW, the Tech Central Precinct, which is slated to become Australia’s largest technology and innovation hub, Fishburners, Stone & Chalk, Western Sydney Startup Hub and Haymarket HQ. In fact, The Economist ranks NSW capital Sydney the seventh most digitised globally, based on connectivity, services, culture and sustainability (Source: The Economist, Digital Cities Index 2022).
- Also in Western Australia, the Australian Automation and Robotic Precinct and Pawsey Supercomputing Research Centres.
- In South Australia, Lot Fourteen and Tonsley Innovation District.
- In Queensland, The Precinct, Queensland Immersive Technologies (XR) Hub and Queensland AI Hub.
- In Victoria, LaunchVic for startups, Cremorne Digital Hub and Melbourne Connect Innovation Precinct.
- Cyber: Australia’s cyber ecosystem is highly collaborative with vendor, business and government collaboration supported through industry groups such as the Australian Cyber Collaboration Centre and CyberWest. The cyber industry is also supported by growth centre AustCyber. Several of the world’s leading security companies have set up technical operations here, including NEC’s A$4.38 million Global Security Intelligence Centre in Adelaide.
- Quantum: Australia’s long-term investment in quantum research kickstarted a vibrant ecosystem. Combined public and private investment since 2002 totals A$1 billion (Source: Australia’s Chief Scientist, 2023). Today there are 28 quantum-focused companies in Australia, comprising 22 start-ups and six multinationals (Source: Australia’s Chief Scientist, 2023). This includes Google, which is partnering with four Australian universities – Macquarie University, the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), the University of Sydney and UNSW – on quantum as part of its Digital Future Initiative. Microsoft operates Station Q Sydney in partnership with the University of Sydney, developing quantum computing technology. Five universities collaborate in the Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems, supported by the Australian Research Council.
- Fintech: Australian fintech industry associations and incubators include FinTech Australia, Blockchain Australia and Insurtech Australia. Australia’s banks also invest directly into promising fintechs through their venture capital arms such as Reinventure and X15.