Australia benefits from an advanced and reliable cluster community. Some of the Australian Clusters, such as a Melbourne cluster focused on medical technologies and research and a Perth cluster focused on oil and gas are comparable with other leading clusters internationally.

Economic and political context and framework

Australia is a prosperous country with a strong economy. It is the only OECD country that did not enter recession during the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, hence it has had sustained growth for 25 years. In 2017, Australia’s GDP was USD 1,390 trillion and its growth rate was 2.2%. As a result, Australia is the developed country with the highest growth rate (IMF, 2016).


Its dynamic economy supports high living standards: in 2017, the GDP per capita was USD 56,135, amongst the highest in the world. The unemployment rate is also rather low: 5.7% in 2016 (IMF, 2016).

Australia’s economy is dominated by the service sector which contributes to 70% of the GDP. However, the mining, education and agricultural sectors are the most important with regards to exports. Agriculture employs 2.6% of the workforce and accounts for 2.5% of the GDP. Australia has significant resources with both mineral and energy raw materials which provides it with substantial revenues. It has large reserves in several strategic minerals (World Bank, 2016).

Manufacturing represents 2.7% of the workforce and contributes to 6% of the GDP. Australia’s main manufacturing’s sectors are the food industry, machinery and equipment, metal processing and metal goods, as well as chemical and petrochemical industries (Australian Industry Report 2016).

Australia and the European Union trade relations are managed under the 2008 EU-Australia Partnership Framework, which aims to facilitate trade of industrial products, services and investments.Read less.

Cluster community in the country

To date, Australian clusters mapping is limited. One source of information is the Innovation Map. Other example clusters operating in Australia are the East Gippsland Food Cluster, Geelong Manufacturing Council (Victoria), Southern Forests Food Council, Subsea Cluster (Western Australia) and Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise, Sunshine Coast Food & Agribusiness Network (Queensland), Hunternet, i3net (New South Wales), Spencer Gulf Cities (South Australia) and Ferment Tasmania (Tasmania).


A number of cluster communities of practice are active in Australia including the TCI network Oceania and the University Industry Innovation Network.Read less.

Cluster policies encouraging the development and internationalisation of clusters

Industry Growth Centres Initiative

The Industry Growth Centre Initiative is driving innovation, productivity and competitiveness by focusing on areas of competitive strength and strategic priority. Growth Centres represent national collaboration networks by connecting industry to research and technical expertise to solve challenges and increase the productivity and competitiveness of their sectors. Read more...

The following links highlight the industry-led sector strategies that have been developed for each sector:

The Food and Agribusiness Growth Centre has a competitive and matched funding Cluster Programme. The clusters supported are The East Gippsland Food Cluster (Victoria), Fermentation Tasmania (FermenTasmania), The Food and Agribusiness Network (FAN) (Queensland) and Central Coast Industry Connect (NSW). The remaining Growth Centres are supporting and working with other Australian clusters.

Growth Centres are potential partners for European clusters and may also be able to help connect European clusters to Australian clusters. Other useful cluster contacts are the 52 Regional Development Australia offices that operate locally across Australia.

SME Export Hubs Initiative

The Australian Government has established a Small and Medium Enterprises Export Hubs program. The Hubs will enable cooperation and boost export capability of local and regional businesses, through support to develop collective brands, leveraging local infrastructure to scale business operations, and positioning regional businesses to participate in global supply chains.

The Initiative will fund local and regional hubs which are aligned with the six Growth Centre sectors. Applications will open in 2018-19.

Export Hubs are business-to-business networks that will deliver improved local capability to increase exports; including by developing export strategies that build on identified local strengths and that are aligned with the national priorities of the Growth Centres.

Policy development around Australian Innovation Precincts

The Australian Government established a Committee to consult and advise on the need for a national innovation precincts strategy. The Committee also found that further development of collaborative networks, both domestically and internationally, could improve innovation and commercialisation outcomes.

There are many active and planned innovation precincts across Australia, with significant investment in each state and territory. They have been mapped.

The Committee drafted a Statement of Principles for Australian Innovation Precincts. Its principles emphasise the importance of local leadership in precinct development; the need to remove barriers and align policy; the need to build capability and connections; and the need to coordinate skills development within precincts. The Government is considering the Statement and next steps.

Cooperative Research Centres

The Australian Government supports business-research collaboration through the Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) Program. The program was established in 1990 to address concerns that Australia’s research capabilities were too dispersed to solve cross-disciplinary research problems and respond to industry demands, however CRC participants aren’t required to co-locate. The CRC Program now focusses on providing funding for industry-led consortia that focus on solving industry-identified problems. The program has two streams: CRCs are funded for up to 10 years, and CRC Projects are funded for up to three years to provide SMEs a new pathway to engage in collaborative research.

Read less.

Cluster to cluster cooperation opportunities and potential interest from European clusters and SMEs

There are significant opportunities to collaborate with Australia. Australia demonstrates both excellent research capabilities and has competitive industries. Australia is open to cluster to cluster cooperation, as seen through its cluster, research and development policies and support to SMEs.


Join events to learn about the cluster policy and meet peers from this country
Date Event Target Event Type
17 November 2020 Food in the Capital - Canberra sustainable food event   Cluster managers, Cluster Policy Makers, SME Conference
05 June 2018 TCI Oceania 2018 Event "Why Cluster Matter" Cluster managers, SME Conference, Matchmaking, Workshop
01 June 2016 3rd TCI Oceania Cluster Conference Cluster managers, Cluster Policy Makers, Large audience Conference


We are currently scouting for relevant information on this topic

ESCP-4i News

Stay updated with the news from the European Cluster Partnership for Internationalisation

ESCP-4is targetting this country

Acronym Name Technology Fields Sectoral Industries Targeted third countries No. of SME involved No. of Partners
SpaceWave Clusters waving the flag to the internationalisation of European SMEs taking advantage of the cross-sectoral dimension of Earth observation for Blue Growth market Australia, Canada, Mexico, Morocco, South Africa, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Viet Nam 50 4
ConnectEO Connecting European Earth Observation to International Markets
A\: Human necessities:Agriculture; forestry; animal husbandry; hunting; trapping; fishing
Agriculture, forestry and fishing:A01 Crop and animal production, hunting and related service activities
Agriculture, forestry and fishing:A03 Fishing and aquaculture
Australia, Chile 430 3
GEN.ERA diGital gENomic Alliance to Explore new maRket for Acceleration
A\: Human necessities:Medical or veterinary science; hygiene
Administrative and support service activities:N82 Office administrative, office support and other business support activities
Australia, China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea (South Korea), Singapore, Taiwan, United States 80 5
ELBE Eurocluster ELBE Eurocluster
Manufacturing:C27 Manufacture of electrical equipment
Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply:D35 Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply
United States, Australia, Brazil, Republic of Korea (South Korea), Viet Nam, India, Taiwan
bioXclusters plus ESCP on Personalised Healthcare
Human health and social work activities:Q86 Human health activities
Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Japan, Republic of Korea (South Korea), United States 880 4