New analysis reveals Australian early-stage startup investment growth led the world over the last 5 years

- July 13, 2023 4 MIN READ
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Sydney retains the crown has Australia’s top startup ecosystem, but Melbourne is rising rapidly through the ranks according to the latest  (GSER).

The report, an annual collaboration between Startup Genome and the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN), analyses data on 3.5 million startups across 290+ global ecosystems.

The Oceania region had highest early-stage funding in the world, with  seven Asia-Pacific ecosystems in the top 30 ranking, with a further three as runners-up. Sydney maintained its top 20 position as the highest-ranking ecosystem in Oceania. Melbourne, the second largest ecosystem in the region, moved up six places to #33 with a 43% increase in ecosystem value to US$25 billion.

The GSER 2023 ranks the top 30 as well as 10 runner-up global ecosystems and includes a top 100 ranking of emerging ecosystems. It also highlights startup communities from a regional perspective, separately ranking ecosystems in eight continental regions.

The findings come as GEN Australia prepares to host the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (#GEC2023) in Melbourne September 19-22

GEN Australia Managing Director Chad Renando said the GSER shows Oceania experienced the highest increase in early-stage funding of any global region since 2018-2022.

“GEN Australia is looking forward to welcoming 4,000 delegates from across this thriving global start-up ecosystem to the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) in Melbourne later this year,” he said.

“Melbourne stands out as a worthy host and globally significant contributor to the startup ecosystem having gained six places this year in the GSER rankings.

Early-stage funding grew by 60.7% and Renando said that can be attributed to a maturing ecosystem, including an increase in the number and type of venture capital firms, emerging investment syndicate platforms and models, and increasing involvement from state and national governments.

We are also seeing a push for greater representation in investment for females and First Nations founders, with more work needed to close the gaps,” he said.

Key findings for Oceania which covers Australia and New Zealand include:

  • Oceania experienced a 152% increase in Series B+ deal amounts, 81% increase in Series B+ deal count, and 60.7% increase in early-stage funding amounts over the period 2018-2022. This is the highest growth of any global region for this period.
  • Sydney maintained its top position as the highest-ranking ecosystem in Oceania. Its Ecosystem Value grew 50% from the GSER, with the number of unicorns increasing from three to four with the new addition of Immutable in 2022 valued at $2.5 billion. Canva remains the highest valued at $40 billion. Exits over $1 billion increased by one: SaaS provider BigCommerce had a $1.6 billion IPO valuation.
  • Melbourne, the second largest ecosystem in the region, moved up six places to #33. It experienced a 43% increase in Ecosystem Value, to $25 billion. The number of early-stage deals grew 29%, exits over $50 million 27%, and exits over $1 billion 50%, including Judo Bank’s IPO at a valuation of $1.7 billion. The highest valued of Melbourne’s three unicorns is fintech Airwallex, valued at $5.5 billion.
  • Perth and Canberra identified as two Top Emerging Ecosystems.
  • Brisbane also produced one of Oceania’s biggest exits: the electric vehicle charge manufacturer Tritium’s IPOd at a valuation of $1.3 billion in January 2022. This helped move it from the 61-70 range to 41–50 in the Emerging Ecosystem ranking.
  • Adelaide listed #5 among Top Five Oceania Ecosystems by VC Funding per Capita behind Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and New Zealand. Tech giants including Amazon (AWS) and Microsoft Azure have established offices in Adelaide and a growing number of South Australian startups are finding global success, such as AI-fertility innovator, Life Whisperer and SWEAT, a global fitness for women software company. 
  • New Zealand shot up in the Emerging Ecosystem rankings from previously 31-40 range to #20. It experienced a 29% increase in exits over $50 million (from seven to nine) and saw the birth of a new unicorn, Cleantech Lodestone Energy, valued at $1.3 billion. The GSER includes a section dedicated to New Zealand, “How a Diverse Range of Tech Startups Is Flourishing in New Zealand”.
  • More Oceania specific GSER data-insights available here.

Key findings for the Asian ecosystem include: 

  • Singapore jumped 10 places in the ranking to #8, the second-highest ranked Asian ecosystem after Beijing. A 100% increase in exits over $50 million since the GSER 2022 helped boost its placement, four of which were over $1 billion. 
  • Singapore boasts 18 unicorns, including Coda Payments, which raised a $690 million Series C round in April 2022. Delivery app Grab is the highest valued at $40 billion.
  • Two Chinese cities feature in the top 30 — Beijing and Shanghai at #7 and #9 — and two in the runners-up — Shenzhen and Hangzhou at #35 and #38. However, three of these four declined from last year’s rankings, including leading Asian ecosystem Beijing, which dropped two places, and tech hub Shenzhen, which fell 12 places.
  • India has two cities in the top 30 and one in the runners-up, all moving up at least two places. Bengaluru-Karnataka, the highest-ranked ecosystem at #20, rose two places and shares its position with Sydney. This success is largely due to a 57% increase in exits over $50 million and a significant growth in unicorns, from 21 to 36. 
  • Delhi rose two places to #24, while Mumbai climbed five places to tie with Salt Lake-Provo at #31.
  • Seoul saw a slight drop of two places from last year, yet it still ranks high at #12 and experienced a significant increase in unicorns, from 9 to 17.
  • Tokyo, the only Japanese ecosystem in the top 30 and runners-up, sits at #15, down from last year’s #12 mainly due to the quicker growth of other ecosystems.
  • More Asia specific data-insights are here

GEN founder and president Jonathan Ortmans said the key themes of this year’s report include inflation, AI regulation, talent attraction, global VC funding, and a wide range of market sub-sector analyses.

“Despite recent downturns in investment, this report foreshadows where we might see the world’s most disruptive and solution-driven companies emerge in the years to come — and provides unparalleled insights that policymakers and community leaders need to build resilient startup ecosystems,” he said.

Startup Genome’s 2023 report provides insights and guidance to public and private leaders on how to foster thriving startup communities .