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SA entrepreneurship shows promise but work still to do

Friday, 7 June 2019

Source: University of Adelaide

South Australia outperforms most other developed economies on 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).

The 2017/18 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) report for South Australia estimates that 9.1 percent of adult South Australians (aged 18-64) were actively engaged in starting or running new businesses.

GEM, the world’s largest study of entrepreneurship, found this participation rate meant that South Australia ranks #9 of the 24 developed economies studied – higher than the UK (8.4 percent) but lower than the rest of Australia (13.1 percent) and 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.

“For South Australia, a few areas stand out as particularly strong. Youth entrepreneurship (18-24 years old) is 9.6 percent across SA compared with only 7.6 percent across Australia.

“Senior entrepreneurship (55-64) is also relatively strong, 7.8 percent in SA compared with 9.3 percent across Australia. SA also compares well with the average across all GEM developed economies, which sits at 5.9 percent.”

Mitchell Stapleton-Coory is the CEO and co-founder of Bellr and says living in South Australia has made his entrepreneurship easier.

“My impression is that SA is a great launch pad for young founders,’’ he says.

“The cost of living is manageable and there are many great initiatives that are geared towards supporting young people to start a business. But, most importantly, I believe we’re seeing a shift in the zeitgeist that has brought startup culture into the mainstream.”

Minister for Innovation and Skills, David Pisoni, says the GEM report confirms the importance of state government support for entrepreneurship.

“The Marshall Liberal Government recognises that investing in entrepreneurship plays a strong role in economic growth and this report is a useful tool for identifying specific areas of opportunity, such as developing initiatives to support greater diversity and inclusion in our entrepreneurial ecosystem,’’ Minister Pisoni says.

“The initiatives we’re delivering to build a stronger entrepreneurial ecosystem in South Australia are building towards our goal of becoming the nation’s startup capital.

“They include the establishment and activation of a world class innovation and startup hub (FIXE) at Lot Fourteen, appointment of a Chief Entrepreneur, Jim Whalley, and the Entrepreneurship Advisory Board, and introduction of the Supporting Innovation in South Australia (SISA) migration visa -- which actively brings seed stage startups to our state to develop their ideas.”                                                                                         

Professor Steffens says, while South Australia rates well on many indicators, there is still work to be done.

“South Australia lags behind Australia on some key indicators as a whole and has some work to do to catch up,’’ he says.

 “Overall rates of entrepreneurship are lower in SA (9.1 percent) compared with the rest of Australia (12.2 percent). This said, SA still ranks #9 of 24 developed economies in the study.

“The lower level of entrepreneurship compared with Australia appears to be driven by a poorer perception of entrepreneurial opportunities, 43.1 percent in SA compared with 51.4 percent across Australia.

“The rate of female participation in entrepreneurship is particularly low, at only 5.6 percent in SA compared with 9.2 percent across Australia. Only 30 percent of South Australian founders are female, compared with 37 percent across Australia.

“SA entrepreneurs also appear on average less educated in some key areas compared to those across Australia. Only 29 percent of SA entrepreneurs have studied STEM (science, ICT, engineering or mathematics) compared with 52 percent across Australia.”

The report will be launched today by South Australia’s Chief Entrepreneur, Mr Jim Whalley, at an event held at Lot Fourteen.

A full copy of the report is available; and more information about GEM can be found at www.gemconsortium.org.

Media Contacts:

Professor Paul Steffens, Director, Entrepreneurship, Commercialisation and Innovation Centre, University of Adelaide. Mobile:
+61 (0)403 026 828, Email: paul.steffens@adelaide.edu.au

Elisa Black, Manager - News and Media, The University of Adelaide. Mobile: +61 (0)466 460 959, Email: elisa.black@adelaide.edu.au