Australians embrace entrepreneurship

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Australia outperforms most other developed economies on most indicators relating to the quality and economic impact of our business start-ups, according to a new report by the University of Adelaide’s Entrepreneurship, Commercialisation and Innovation Centre (ECIC) and QUT’s Australian Centre for Entrepreneurship Research (ACE).

The 2017/18 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) report for Australia, estimates that 12.2 percent of adult Australians (aged 18-64) were actively engaged in starting or running new businesses in 2017.

This means around 1.8 million Australians show entrepreneurial activity.

GEM, the world’s largest study of entrepreneurship, found this participation rate meant that Australia ranks #6 of the 24 developed economies studied – higher than the UK (8.4 percent) and similar to the USA (13.6 percent).

“It usually surprises people when they hear just how entrepreneurial Australia is compared to other countries,” says lead author Professor Paul Steffens from the University of Adelaide.

“The GEM study is unique in that it identifies entrepreneurs at the very earliest stages of new business creation and provides an opportunity to benchmark against other countries on a wide variety of indicators.”

“We really do appear to punch above our weight when compared to other developed nations and this is good news for job growth. Some 3.4 percent of adults, or 510,000 new businesses, expect to create at least six new jobs in the next five years.”

GEM also measures individuals who lead innovative activity in established businesses and found Australia ranked #7 of 24 developed economies.

Professor Martin Obschonka, Director of ACE QUT that is the official GEM global partner, added that GEM Australia also revealed that Australia’s profile of start-up activity is particularly strong in the senior age groups and female participation, but comparatively weak in terms of youth entrepreneurship and internationalisation.

“Of the 1.8 million Australians engaged in starting new businesses, 38 percent or 690,000 were women, which ranks us fourth against other countries surveyed,’’ says Professor Obschonka.

But it also found that fear of failure remains higher than many other countries and the younger generation are slower on the uptake.

“However, it’s not all cause to celebrate. Fear of failure and doing business with international markets is a challenge, most likely due to the tyranny of distance, and this can certainly inhibit growth.”

For a copy of the full report, see eprints. For more information about GEM, visit


Contact Details

Dr Paul Steffens
Professor of Entrepreneurship
Program Director, Master of Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship, Commercialisation and Innovation Centre (ECIC)
Mobile: 0403 026 828

Ms Elisa Black
Manager, News and Media
University of Adelaide
Mobile: +61 (0)466 460 959