Australia is a land of trailblazers, with a rich culture of innovation and creativity. We’ve created centres of excellence in crucial disciplines, as the best minds meet to tackle the challenges that face Australia and the world.
Our universities have made a major contribution to our status as one of the most innovative countries in the world. University spending on research and development has doubled in the past 18 years. And our skilled and diverse workforce means that our ideas and inventions can be put into production.
With dynamic links between academia, industry and public services, Australia is laying the groundwork for future discoveries.
Australia ranks 1st for technological readiness
Source: Technological Readiness Ranking, Economist Intelligence Unit
CSIRO ranks in the top 1% of the world's scientific institutions in 15 of 22 research fields
Source: CSIRO Annual Report
World-class universities and research facilities
Australian universities are ranked 3rd in the world, according to the 2020 Academic Ranking of World Universities, published by the Shanghai Ranking Consultancy. We have 7 institutes in the world’s top 100 and our graduates are world-leaders in ground-breaking research and development.
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.
The Australian Government continues to support links between research and industry, investing A$74 million to open 16 new research hubs and training centres around the country, as part of the commitment to commercialising Australian research.
Australia ranks 3rd globally for the number of universities in the top 100
Source: Shanghai Ranking Consultancy, 2020, Academic Ranking of World Universities
Almost half of Australia’s workforce has a tertiary qualification
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2020
A nation of inventors and entrepreneurs
Australian innovations include: the electronic pacemaker (1926), the ‘black box’ flight recorder (1958), ultrasound (1961), multi-channel cochlear implants (1970s), wi-fi (1990s), the polymer banknote (1988), Google Maps (2003), a cervical cancer vaccine (2006), a cervical cancer vaccine (2006) and a leukaemia drug (2017).
We know that bringing the right people, knowledge and tools together is how innovation happens. That’s why we’re nurturing more than 100 innovation precincts and industry clusters across the country. Here are just a few examples:
- The Sydney Startup Hub is a globally significant innovation centre, supporting a strong entrepreneurial community where startups and SMEs thrive.
- The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, the home of Australia’s nuclear science and technology expertise and landmark national infrastructure, operates an Innovation Precinct in southern Sydney that connects scientists with industry, and gives business an opportunity to access outstanding facilities and expertise.
- The Melbourne Biomedical Precinct, just next to the CBD, is made up of over 40 hospitals, research, teaching and biotechnology organisations. The precinct delivers outstanding patient care, produces cutting edge research and discoveries, and trains some of the country’s brightest minds.
- Melbourne Innovation Districts is a partnership between the City of Melbourne, RMIT University, and the University of Melbourne, to develop urban innovations in Melbourne, for the benefit of the whole city.
- Lot Fourteen, nestled in the heart of Adelaide is accelerating innovation and making a global impact by bringing together entrepreneurs, global companies, universities and research organisations from across Australia and the world. It is already home to the Australian Institute for Machine Learning, the Australian Space Agency, SmartSat CRC, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s big data Living Lab and the Australian Cyber Collaboration Centre.
- Adelaide is also home to the Tonsley Innovation District, 10km south of the CBD, and home to leading-edge research and education institutions, established businesses and start-ups, business incubators and accelerators. Its focus is on sectors including cleantech and renewable energy; health, medical devices and assistive technologies, mining and energy services; and automation, software and simulation.
- The Precinct, located in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley, brings together Queensland startups, incubators, investors and mentors under the one roof. The Precinct is one of Queensland’s largest innovation hubs.
- WA Data Science Innovation Hub ensures WA remains at the forefront of the digital revolution by increasing the uptake, education, training and awareness of data science.
See the incredible concentration of innovation hubs across Australia with the interactive Innovation map produced by the CSIRO.
Australia is investing heavily in research and development (R&D) with overall spending growing by 7% per year since 2001. Australia’s annual gross domestic expenditure on research and development (GERD) reached A$34 billion in 2018–19. This places Australia alongside the UK, Singapore and France as one of the highest spenders on R&D.
R&D investment and partnerships have already delivered value for Australia, including:
- world-firsts in 3D printing human body parts
- patented coating technology and techniques used by US defence companies
- robotics, automation and remote asset-management technologies for NASA’s Artemis program (next peopled mission to the moon).