Australia's top five globally successful industries

Australia is one of the world’s strongest economies, recently chalking up 28 consecutive years of economic growth.

Australia’s diversified and services-based economy is supported by an innovative, highly educated and culturally dynamic labour force. Internationally, Australia is ranked third on the global human development index and fifth for global entrepreneurship. [1] Around half of Australian firms are innovation-active. [1]

This article highlights Australia’s top five globally successful industries.

Education and research

Australia is ranked third for the number of universities in the world’s top 100, [2] attracting hundreds of thousands of international students each year. [3] Australia is now the second most popular destination in the world for international students, [4] thanks to a world-leading education system and research institutions, vibrant social and cultural environment, and excellent career prospects.

The number of students arriving in Australia to study is increasing every year, with student numbers and export value within the sector recently enjoying its fourth consecutive year of double-digit growth. [1]

Technology in education is also advancing, with an estimated 350 Edtech companies in Australia offering tech solutions in education and training, including immersive simulation technology. [5]

Australia also has a strong track record in research; Australia’s national science agency, the CSIRO, is ranked in the top one per cent of the world’s scientific institutions in 14 of 22 research fields.

Financial services

Australia’s financial markets are expansive and liquid, comprising the world’s ninth largest stock market (and third largest in Asia), eighth largest foreign exchange market, sixth largest managed fund assets pool and fourth largest pension pool, fuelled by a mandated superannuation scheme. [1]

An eight trillion-dollar sector that is Australia’s largest contributor to gross value added, financial services are one of the nation’s major economic drivers. [1]

The Australian fintech industry is continuing to grow and diversify. There are an estimated 700 fintech start-ups in Australia – seven of which were in the Fintech100 in 2018, placing Australia fourth behind the US, UK and China for fintech companies in the world’s top 100. [6]

According to a 2017 KPMG report, [7] Australian consumers are increasingly demanding fast, convenient and accessible finance and payment services. Australia’s fintech companies largely feature in the payments and lending sectors but are increasingly in emerging technology sectors such as regtech, blockchain and insurtech. The KPMG report found that Australia has the potential to world-leading in these fintech areas and that Sydney, home to more than 60 per cent of Australia’s fintech companies, has an opportunity to become the fintech hub of Asia. [7]


Australia is one of the largest producers of agricultural products in the world, renowned for its premium produce.  Internationally recognised for quality and reliability, Australian produce is a common staple in fine dining experiences around the world. [8]

A multibillion-dollar industry, food and beverages are at the heart of Australian culture, reflecting the diversity of its multicultural society. With more safe, organic farmland than anywhere else in the world, [9] Australian agriculture is increasingly embracing the Internet of Things and developing and using new technologies to ensure the quality and sustainability of food production, including through increased efficiency and waste reduction. With more than 300 Agtech and Foodtech companies, Australia is well-positioned to meet the global agricultural needs of the future.

Resources and energy

As one of the biggest global exporters of mining and fuel resources, Australia is an important supplier of international resources and energy.

While Australia is known as a reliable supplier of LNG and coal, it also has the world’s largest supplies of nickel, gold, lead, iron ore, zircon, rutile and zinc, as well as the second largest reserves of silver, copper, bauxite and cobalt [10] – many of which are critical to high-technology industries around the world. [11]

As world energy demand continues to move at pace towards renewables, Australia is also responding to this shift in the energy landscape. Renewable energy already accounts for more than 15 per cent of Australia’s total electricity generation and is growing year-upon-year. [12]

Australia’s national science agency CSIRO is pioneering low-emission technologies for industry and households, including: developing smarter extraction and carbon capture techniques in mining and energy production; improving electricity grid efficiency; developing cutting edge energy storage technologies; and making solar a reliable and stable power source. [13]

With an abundance of free, sun-soaked land, surrounded by ocean, Australia is well-placed to lead the way particularly in hydrogen, solar and wind power generation.


The diversity of Australia’s landscapes, flora, fauna and culture offers some of the most memorable experiences on earth. It’s big, it’s bold, it’s beautiful. Australia is home to one of the most multicultural populations per capita in the world and to the oldest civilisation. [14]

Tourism is one of Australia’s super-growth industry, ranked the world’s seventh largest tourism market and coming in number one globally for visitor spend per trip. [15] Its world-class tourism offering, combined with Australia’s economic resilience, political stability, close proximity to the world’s largest aviation market and strong events calendar, makes Australia’s tourism market a secure and stable investment environment and prospect for investors.


Expo 2020 Dubai will provide a platform connecting Australian business and industry to potential trade and investment opportunities from around the world. With hundreds of trade and investment missions being lined up by participating countries, Expo 2020 Dubai offers a valuable opportunity for Australia to showcase its capabilities to a global audience.