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How silicon are our valleys? New CSIRO mapping identifies Australia’s tech clusters

- August 1, 2023 2 MIN READ
Tech Central
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Australia has nearly 100 Antipodean ‘Silicon Valley’ sites creating nearly two-thirds of the country’s tech jobs, according to a new report mapping digital technology clusters nationally for the first time.

The report, ‘The geography of Australia’s digital industries’, was produced by CSIRO, and the Tech Council of Australia.

It found there are 96 digital clusters nationwide, located in every state and territory.

The report explores how the geographical tech concentrations, much like Silicon Valley in California, boost growth and productivity. Those clusters cover 4% of Australia’s geographic area, which account for 63% of all tech job creation.

The report also found there are three types of clusters in Australia, including four superclusters, which are mega groupings of multiple clusters in the same city: the Sydney arc, the Melbourne diamond, the Brisbane corridor, and the Canberra triangle.

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CSIRO acting CEO Kirsten Rose said understanding the patterns around tech hubs was important as international research shows their many benefits.

“The experience globally has shown that firms in clusters grow, employ and innovate at a faster rate,” she said.

“We know comparatively little about this in Australia, but what this report tells us very clearly is that geography matters and understanding that geography can help us catalyse growth.”

Lead report author and CSIRO principal researcher Dr Stefan Hajkowicz said that alongside the four east coast super clusters, there are smaller clusters in other capitals such as Perth, Hobart and Darwin.

“The report has also noted the rise of highly specialised clusters in regional areas, for example we are seeing the rapid growth of the graphic design profession in coastal areas like Burleigh Heads,” he said.

“We’re not searching for Australia’s Silicon Valley, we have our own clusters with their own unique blend of technology specialisations, companies, and cultures.

“But we do see the same patterns of intense spatial clustering of technology industry occurring in places like California, Cambridge (UK), Toulouse (France) and other places worldwide.”

Australia also has 60 greater city clusters, which are single clusters in greater capital city areas that have large and diversified tech workforces and companies.. They include Parramatta, 25km west of Sydney’s CBD, Hobart, Northbridge in Perth, Darwin and Adelaide.

Silicon paddocks

But it’s not just about the capitals, with Australia demonstrating a knack for decentralising tech jobs in what some have dubbed silicon paddocks.

Tech Council CEO Kate Pounder said the 36 regional specialist clusters included Noosa, Newcastle, Queanbeyan, Geelong and Torquay and have significant tech workforces which often specialise in one or two areas.

”This research shows that great ideas and industries can spring up anywhere in Australia,” she said.

“It’s an incredible achievement as a nation to have 96 different clusters spread around the country creating jobs and opportunity for a range of communities and workers.

“Giving a range of communities access to this opportunity is vital as this report highlights the benefits for communities of being in a cluster.

“Given tech jobs are amongst the fastest-growing, best-paid and most flexible jobs in the country, it’s a great advantage for any community to have a cluster in their area.” she said.

The report is available here.

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