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Key Innovative & Research Capabilities

Innovation        Start-Up Sector       Innovation Policy       NSW Research Map       Assistance       Research within Universities


Innovation: Competitive Position of Australia

The Global Innovation Index 2015 (GII), in its 8th edition this year, is co-published by Cornell University, INSEAD, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO, an agency of the United Nations).The core of the GII Report consists of a ranking of world economies’ innovation capabilities and results. (https://www.globalinnovationindex.org)

Over the last eight years, the GII has established itself as a leading reference on innovation. Understanding in more detail the human aspects behind innovation is essential for the design of policies that help promote economic development and richer innovation-prone environments locally. Recognizing the key role of innovation as a driver of economic growth and prosperity, and the need for a broad horizontal vision of innovation applicable to developed and emerging economies, the GII includes indicators that go beyond the traditional measures of innovation such as the level of research and development. 

Out of 144 economies measuredAustralia (using Sydney as its global city measure) in 2015 maintains its 17th place overall GII rank, and 10th place rank in the Input Sub-Index from 2014. It also maintains its top 10 rankings in three pillars: Human Capital and Research (9th), Infrastructure (4th), and Market Sophistication (9th). It improves by three places in the Infrastructure pillar across two sub-pillars: ICTs (7th) and Ecological Sustainability (27th). Australia has also improved in Business Sophistication by three places to 23rd, as a result of improvements made in two sub-pillars: Knowledge workers and Innovation linkages. 

In relation to innovation outputs, Australia has also improved in Creative outputs by five places to 7th place, with improvements within all three sub-pillars. Australia’s main failings have taken place in Human capital and research (down two places) and Knowledge and technology outputs (down eight places). 

Growth in the Start-Up Sector

Although the world looks to Silicon Valley as a beacon for tech startups, as there are a number of cities all over the world pegged as rising startup hubs. An Intuit list (derived from the Startup Ecosystem Report 2012) in 2013, names Tel Aviv as the second-hottest startup ecosystem in the world next to Silicon Valley.  

However both Sydney and Melbourne also feature on this Intuit top 20 cities list, with the latter city’s startups called out as being 42% more data-driven than those in Silicon Valley. Where data is apparently ‘the new black’ in the digital world, this differentiation in approach should be advantageous for local startups. 

The Price Waterhouse (PwC 2013) report The startup economy published earlier this year, predicted that the Australian startup sector has the capacity to deliver $109 billion to the economy, with opportunities for growth in the Finance and Insurance, Manufacturing and Health Care and Social Assistance industries. Similarly to the findings below, the report identified the need for government and regulatory support to aid the growth of this sector. 

The intuit infographic also highlights an interesting correlation between cities with strong art and music cultures and entrepreneurialism… perhaps indicating that elements of creativity, imagination and artistic talent make up a part of what it takes to develop a start-up? 

Sydney is well established as the major hub of Australia’s technology start-up sector, with a total of approximately 950 active start-ups in 2012. PwC (2013) estimates that more than 75% of tech start-ups are targeting the information media and telecommunications sector. However, significant additional opportunities exist to tap into other larger industries, particularly in Metropolitan Sydney, such as finance and insurance (Fintech), and high value niche manufacturing 

To find out more about Australia’s startup ecosystem, download a copy of ‘The Startup Economy: How to support tech startups and accelerate Australian innovation’. See also (http://www.innovationaus.com/) 


Australian Government Innovation Policy

The Australian Government has just released a new National Innovation and Science Agenda. For detailed information with respect to this policy please refer to the Department of Innovation website See www.innovation.gov.au


NSW Research Map

The NSW government, through the NSW Office of the Chief Scientist, publishes details with respect to the research and education facilities in NSW via an Interactive NSW Research Map. (See http://www.chiefscientist.nsw.gov.au/nsw-science-and-research-map). The Interactive NSW Research Map showcases the state's higher education, science, and research and development facilities in an easy-to-use geospatial format.


 Use the Interactive NSW Research Map now


The map is a 'one-stop shop' for information about:

  • State Government agencies, including state laboratories, museums and cultural institutions, which are involved in science related activities
  • Users can search for research centres or infrastructure by Organisation Type and/or Field of Research. The Interactive NSW Research Map will not only enhance the profile of the State's universities and research centres, it will undoubtedly prove a useful tool for the development of research, industry and international collaborations. 


Research and Industry Assistance

The NSW government also has further information with respect to NSW industry research capabilities and to the assistance packages offered.   


List of Universities in Sydney with Research Capabilities 

The Sydney Metropolitan Region has six major universities and nine campus sites for non-metropolitan universities. The University of Sydney and University of New South Wales are ranked in the top 200 in the world by the Times Higher Education-QS World University Rankings 2011-12. Whilst there are specialist smaller campuses outside the CBD, the primary physical locations of our major universities, other than the Western Sydney University, are located in the Central and North Subregions.

For information with respect to the research capabilities, areas of expertise, and how to access or form partnerships, please find the following URL links to the University Websites.


Major Sydney Universities:

University of Sydney



University of New South Wales https://research.unsw.edu.au/
University of Technology Sydney http://www.uts.edu.au/research-and-teaching/our-research
Macquarie University http://www.mq.edu.au/research
Western Sydney University http://www.uws.edu.au/research

Other Universities with Campuses in Sydney: 

Australian Catholic University http://research.acu.edu.au/
Central Queensland University https://www.cqu.edu.au/research
Charles Darwin University http://www.cdu.edu.au/research
Charles Sturt University http://www.csu.edu.au/research-csu
Southern Cross University http://scu.edu.au/research/
The University of Newcastle http://www.newcastle.edu.au/research-and-innovation/global-leadership
The University of New England http://www.une.edu.au/research
The University of Notre Dame http://researchonline.nd.edu.au/
University of Wollongong https://www.uow.edu.au/research/index.html




Last Updated: 21 May 2018