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  • How to support tech startups and accelerate Australian innovation

    The startup economy

    April 2013

    Commissioned by Google Australia


  • 2 PwC: The Startup Economy (April 2013)

    In 2013 Google commissioned PwC to conduct research to identify potential ways to accelerate the growth of the Australian technology startup sector (see appendix for research definitions and disclaimer).

    Concurrent to this research StartupAUS, a community group with an initial 50 members of the tech startup ecosystem including Google and PwC, was created to inform the research and take the necessary actions to accelerate the growth of the sector (


    Characteristics of a tech startup:

    • Technology is central to the product or service being provided

    • High leverage of the labour input to the product or service so that the business can scale rapidly

    • Product  or  service  is  a  ‘disruptive   innovation’  in  that  it  helps  create  a   new market or new supply chain / network which disrupts an existing market

    • Revenue under $5 million per year

    Section Description Page

    1 2013 Snapshot 4

    2 The national imperative 8

    3 Actions for growth 11

    4 Enhance culture and community engagement 14

    5 More entrepreneurs with the right skills 17

    6 Open up markets to Australian tech startups 22

    7 More early stage funding 25

    8 Improve regulatory environment 29

    Appendix 32

    Startup: high growth company

    Technology: innovative products and services that result from the practical application of knowledge


  • 3 PwC: The Startup Economy (April 2013)
























    2013 2015 2017 2019 2021 2023 2025 2027 2029 2031 2033

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    Analysis of the growth of global tech ecosystems emphasise the importance of leadership, communities, culture, education and the need to stop trying to emulate Silicon Valley. International comparisons show that entrepreneurship can thrive with the right culture and perceptions, regardless of basic regulatory conditions.

    Global comparisons with other technology startup ecosystems suggest there is no better time to be an entrepreneur in Australia, but achieving the projected economic contribution will require a significant and persistent effort to encourage more people to create more tech startups.

    The Australian tech startup sector has the potential to contribute $109 billion or 4% of GDP to the Australian economy and 540,000 jobs by 2033 with a concerted effort from entrepreneurs, educators, the government and corporate Australia.

    Short term actions: • Encourage over 2,000 additional tech

    entrepreneurs annually to join the community from the existing workforce

    • Community and culture are vital - existing participants need to build their community and cheer success stories

    • Startups need to make further inroads into selling to larger corporations and the government

    • Keep working on increasing the pool of funding

    Long term actions:

    • Adjust education system to produce more skilled tech entrepreneurs

    • Further improve regulatory environment to reduce barriers to participation

    Figure 1 – Potential economic contribution of the tech startup sector

    Source: PwC analysis

  • 4 PwC: The Startup Economy (April 2013)

    2013 Snapshot

    • Approximately 1,500 tech startups with hubs in Sydney and Melbourne • Approximately 2,000 founders • Rapidly expanding support ecosystem • Open dataset developed and available for reuse on

  • 5 PwC: The Startup Economy (April 2013)

    Sydney ~ 950 startups

    Melbourne ~ 350 startups

    Other locations ~ 200 startups

    Total in Australia ~ 1,500 startups

    2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011

    The Australian tech sector comprises around 1,500 firms ranging from one or two person startups created in the last 12 months, to more established businesses which have been around for a decade. There are very few startups between 2001 to 2006 which still exist today but a significant increase of activity from 2007 onwards has created many of current startups.

    The Australian tech sector is currently small, with great potential for growth. In 2012, there were 1,500 tech startups in Australia with key hubs in Sydney and Melbourne.

    Figure 2 – Location of today’s tech startups


    1% 2%




    Bubble size = total number of startups active in each year that are still active as at 1 Jan 2013

    2013 Snapshot

    Source: PwC analysis

  • 6 PwC: The Startup Economy (April 2013)

    14% 12% 10% 8% 6% 4% 2% % 2% 4% 6% 8% 10% 12% 14%

    Arts and Recreation Services

    Personal and Other Services

    Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services

    Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services

    Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing

    Accommodation and Food Services

    Administrative and Support Services

    Information Media and Telecommunications

    Wholesale Trade

    Retail Trade

    Education and Training

    Public Administration and Safety

    Transport, Postal and Warehousing

    Health Care and Social Assistance

    Professional, Scientific and Technical Services




    Finance and Insurance

    % of all start-ups targeting the industry 2012

    Total industry contribution to GDP 2012 (%)


    Total industry contribution to GDP 2050 (%)

    More than 3 out of 4 tech startups are targeting the Information Media and Telecommunications sector – but significant opportunities exist throughout the Australian economy. There are additional opportunities for startups to tap into other larger industries in Australia today such as Finance and Insurance and Manufacturing. Over the longer term, the Health Care and Social Assistance industry, will provide significant opportunities as the fastest growing industry in Australia and the expected highest contributor to GDP in 2050.

    Through the application of technology to existing industry challenges tech startups are well placed to drive productivity growth throughout the economy by reducing both the (per unit) labour and capital inputs required to produce goods and services.

    Source:  PwC  analysis  and  IBM  (2012)  A  snapshot  of  Australia’s  digital  future  to  2050

    Figure 3 – Target industry of Australia’s tech startups compared to industry size

    2013 Snapshot

    Productivity growth is the only way of growing the economy without necessarily requiring additional physical inputs – Australian Productivity Commission

  • 7 PwC: The Startup Economy (April 2013)

    2013 Snapshot

    Australian tech startups are supported by a rapidly expanding ecosystem with strong recent growth in incubators, accelerators and angel groups. Entrepreneurs today have access to a wide network of support. Support for Australian tech startups has expanded rapidly over the last two years. To take advantage of this growing support t is time for Australian  tech  entrepreneurs  to  step  up  and  demonstrate  to  the  ecosystem  that  they’re  worth  investing  in  and  create  a  self  sustaining cycle of success and support.

    Startups follow a trajectory towards success that includes a number of stages including ideation/prototyping, incubation where the concept is validated, commercialisation where the business model is validated and finally scaling to growth. The rate of progress may vary greatly.

    As startups move along this trajectory they may draw from a wide range of supporters. Entrepreneurs and supporters form an ecosystem of people and groups that create and support startups for their mutual benefit.

    There are differences in the maturity of areas of support as well as levels of support during the startup lifecycle. In particular, support during the ideation/prototyping and incubation stages and funding overall are young and developing. Significant progress has been made in the last two years (Figure 4 and Figure 5) although there is still a need to deepen the level and quantum of support.

    Source: PwC analysis

    Ideation Incubation Commercialisation


    Incubators/ Accelerators





    Figure 4 – Startup support ecosystem (2010) Figure 5 – Startup support ecosystem (2012)

    Ideation Incubation Commercialisation


    Incubators/ Accelerators





  • 8 PwC: The Startup Economy (April 2013)

    The national i


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