Australia’s emerging ‘Silicon Valleys’ revealed


For the first time, Australia’s national science agency CSIRO and the Tech Council of Australia have mapped out and analysed the country’s digital technology clusters, and are dubbing them as Australia’s own ‘Silicon Valleys’.

In the report, The geography of Australia’s digital industries, 96 digital clusters have been identified throughout the country, encompassing all states and territories.

These clusters are considered engines of growth, accounting for 63 per cent of all tech job creation in Australia, even though they cover only four per cent of Australia’s geographic area.

The report reveals that Australia has 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.

CSIRO’s acting Chief Executive Kirsten Rose said that understanding these patterns 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,” Rose 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 apart from the four superclusters, smaller clusters have also been identified in the report, such as in 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,” Hajkowicz 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,” Hajkowicz added. “But we do see the same patterns of intense spatial clustering of technology industry occurring in places like California (USA), 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. This includes areas such as Parramatta, Hobart, Northbridge in Perth, Darwin and Adelaide.

Tech Council of Australia CEO Kate Pounder said the 36 regional specialist clusters – which include Noosa, Newcastle, Queanbeyan, Geelong and Torquay – prove that digital innovation can happen anywhere in Australia. These clusters are located in regional areas 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,” Pounder 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.

“Clusters account for 63 per cent of tech jobs in Australia. 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 concluded.