Life Sciences and Edtech Power Melbourne’s Growing Startup Scene

Our new member spotlight shows Melbourne’s startup ecosystem has fantastic diversity in both its startups and its founders.
Sean Ludwig
on July 21, 2019

When it comes to analyzing the Australian startup climate, it’s easy to immediately look to Sydney to see what’s happening. But observers would be foolish to not also look at startup-rich Melbourne just 550 miles (900 kilometers) to the southwest, which is brimming with talented and innovative startups.

Melbourne, the second most populous city in Australia, is rated as a Challenger Ecosystem in Startup Genome’s 2019 Global Startup Ecosystem Report, meaning it may not take long for the Melbourne startup ecosystem to enter the top 30 ecosystems globally.

Two startup sub-sectors that are booming in Melbourne are Edtech and Life Sciences. Edtech is the fastest growing sub-sector in the ecosystem, with more than 10% of startups working on solving education problems. You will find a steady stream of startups growing out of the University of Melbourne, which is a leader in research focused on education. The notable startup Study Loans, which is at the intersection of EdTech and Fintech, helps college students with private student loan and received a $55 million cash injection in June 2018.

When it comes to the Life Sciences sub-sector, both the local BioMelbourne Network and the national Biomedical Translation Fund (BTF) have helped promote startups in this vertical in Melbourne. Several notable startups in the Life Sciences sub-sector have emerged as a result of this encouraging environment. These include Spinifex Pharmaceuticals’ acquisition by Novartis for $200 million and Telix Pharmaceuticals, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, going public in 2017 at a valuation of $98 million.

There are many other startups to watch in Melbourne that are outside of these sub-sectors, according to Wired. These include podcasting startup Omny Studio, smart headphone maker Nuraphone, virtual reality startup Zero Latency, online design platform 99designs, wine-focused marketplace and social network Vinomofo.

Melbourne’s startup scene is also set apart from many others around the globe because of its extraordinary inclusion. One-third of Melbourne’s founders are women, one in three founders are born overseas, and 2% of founders are from indigenous peoples. Having so many different backgrounds working on startups creates a dynamic environment with more ideas and innovative thinking.


Other highlights about the Melbourne startup ecosystem from the 2019 GSER include:

  • The startup’s ecosystem is currently valued at $2.2 billion as a whole.
  • It is rated in the top 20 ecosystems globally for Connectedness.
  • It is rated in the top 25 ecosystems globally for Talent.
  • An average software engineer there earns $64,300, higher than the global average.

Our local member in Melbourne is LaunchVic, which supports “startups and investors to sustainably grow and deliver economic and cultural benefits for both Victoria and Australia.” The organization was founded by the Victorian government in 2016 and it helps startups with funding, community engagement, and wide global promotion.

One of LaunchVic’s most recent campaigns to help startups is Scaleup Your Career, which helps connect change makers with careers at startups. For a 12-week period, LaunchVic used outdoor and digital advertising to showcase what it’s like to work at a scaleup and make people aware of the great job potential of working in the industry.

“The Melbourne startup scene is flourishing through the convergence of ICT talent, growth in the number of startups, our commitment to inclusion, and the fact that we are one of the most liveable cities globally,” Kate Cornick, CEO at LaunchVic, said.

Do you want to work on developing Melbourne’s startup ecosystem and helping get the word out? We’d love to talk. Please get in touch with us about becoming a startup ecosystem ambassador!

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