Adelaide cracks into global top 100 startup ecosystems

For the first time, a global ranking of the world’s startup ecosystems has placed Adelaide in the top 100.

Jun 17, 2024, updated Jun 19, 2024

Adelaide was ranked as an “emerging” startup ecosystem by US startup research and development organisation Startup Genome and cracked into the top 100 of the world’s startup cities for the first time.

Adelaide was placed somewhere between 91 and 100 on Startup Genome’s list, with 89 per cent growth in the system’s value driving the new high.

However, at $2 billion Adelaide’s ecosystem value is significantly below other Australian capital cities.

Sydney was the top Australian startup city, ranked at #21 in the world with a $72 billion ecosystem value – $70 billion more than Adelaide.

Melbourne landed the #32 spot with a $26.5 billion valuation, while Brisbane placed somewhere between 31 and 40 with a $10.8 billion valuation.

According to the Startup Genome 2024 Ecosystem Report, Adelaide was “home to global tech giants and internationally-recognised startups” and was “thriving in multiple sectors, including renewable energy, health, agriculture, defence and space”.

The report highlighted several initiatives showcasing positive momentum for the startup sector, including the South Australian government’s partnership with Women in Innovation and the Fearless Females Network which created a new grants program to support female founders. The annual startup conference _SOUTHSTART was another highlight for Adelaide, the report noted.

According to Startup Genome, total early-stage funding for Adelaide startups of $147 million is significantly below the global average of $655 million, but the median seed round value of $1.3 million was about on par with the global average of $985,000.

Total venture capital funding in South Australian startups of $299.8 million from 2019 to 2023 is also well below the global average of $4.6 billion in the same period.

The report said life sciences, space tech and AI were three of Adelaide’s sub-sector strengths.

“Adelaide is a premier hub for global life sciences companies, with strong industry investment into research and development, clinical trials, manufacturing, and sales and marketing,” said the report, which highlighted the $3.8 billion Adelaide BioMed City innovation district.

The report said Adelaide was “Australia’s space capital”, due to the Australian Space Agency and the SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre calling the capital home.

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Founders are attracted to Adelaide because of its network of innovation districts, hyperconnectivity and quality of life, according to Startup Genome.

“A family-friendly city that is consistently ranked among the world’s most liveable, Adelaide offers business founders the opportunity to thrive both professionally and personally,” the report said.

“Life-work balance is a draw, with Adelaide residents able to spend less time in traffic than in larger cities, and more time enjoying the region’s top-tier wineries, restaurants, beaches and cultural events.

“The advantages of working in a smaller city are evident in Adelaide, where you’re never more than one connection away from the right research partner, investor, mentor, or customer.”

As for the rest of the world, Silicon Valley was ranked number one for the fifth year in a row, followed by New York City and London, which are tied for second place.

Tel Aviv jumped up one place to be ranked equal fourth with Los Angeles, while Boston, Singapore, Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo rounded out the top 10 in that order.

Startup Genome said the sector should be “cautiously optimistic” about the future.

“The dizzying funding heights of 2021 are unlikely to return in the near future; ecosystem stakeholders should adjust their expectations accordingly,” Startup Genome said.

“However, this does not mean that the global startup economy is stuck in continual decline. Conditions have stabilised and are starting to show signs of improvement, with Series A and exits beginning to go up.

“Simultaneously, history suggests that VCs that recognise the first-mover advantage of a more bullish approach may reap higher returns compared to those who remain conservative.”

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