Australia's Deep Tech Opportunity

Deep technologies – significant innovations based on scientific research – can help address the world’s biggest challenges and strengthen our economy. But Australia is at risk of falling behind.

Our latest research for Cicada Innovations finds that while Australia is a world leader in deep tech research, relatively few Australian corporates are global R&D leaders. Of the leading 2,500 global firms who are recognised as R&D leaders, just 12 of them are Australian. The economies of South Korea and Canada are similar in size to the Australian economy, but they have 60 and 28 firms in the global top 2,500, respectively.

Because deep tech is expensive and development takes a long time, developing the right commercialisation pathway is crucial. Our report examines the role of deep tech in driving human progress and supporting economic growth. It analyses some of Australia’s best known deep tech innovations – polymer banknotes, CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) technology, Wi-Fi, and the Cochlear implant – to identify what is needed for success. And it highlights the experiences of six Cicada start-ups, which have collectively generated an estimated $378 million for the Australian economy over the past decade.

We recommend four priorities for policymakers, business leaders, and investors to realise our deep tech potential.

  • First, we need to build a bridge through the pandemic crisis, and ensure that our existing investments are protected.
  • Second, we should develop our shared vision of the deep tech capacity we want.
  • Third, we need to nurture an innovative culture in our organisations.
  • And fourth, we should commit to invest in deep tech for the long term.
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