a moth image

We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the ACT, the Ngunnawal people and recognise any other people or families with connection to the lands of the ACT and region.

Innovation & tertiary education

Canberra is the innovation and education capital of Australia.

The tertiary education, training and research sector is one of our strengths.

The sector:

  • accounts for around 8% of the economy
  • contributes $3.3 billion in value add
  • supports 20,000 jobs
  • trains about 64,000 tertiary students

Our 5 university campuses are all ranked among the best in the world. Along with the Canberra Institute of Technology, they have strong employer satisfaction and graduate outcomes. One in 6 people here work or study at a tertiary education or research institution.

This sector drives new knowledge creation for the Canberra economy. International education links underpin around one-third of this creation. The sector is responsible for Canberra’s largest export at $1 billion in 2019.

As a proportion of the ACT economy, the innovation and higher education sector is around 3 times the national average. It’s well above our population and GDP shares.

Canberra’s universities

We’re home to Australia’s highest-ranked university. The Australian National University is also consistently rated as one of the top universities in the world. It has multi-disciplinary expertise.

The University of Canberra is one of the most highly rated young universities in Australia. It’s one of the fastest rising in the world.

UNSW Canberra recently announced a new $1 billion campus in Canberra. This will see us host our second prestigious university that’s part of the ‘Group of Eight‘. These ‘Group of 8’ universities are Australia’s leading research-intensive universities.

Other universities with campuses in Canberra include:

Technical and Vocational Education

Trusted public TAFE provider, Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT), provides vocational education. CIT students will soon benefit from a new $250 million state-of-the-art campus in the Woden Town Centre. Construction is due to start in 2022.

There are also many specialised Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) here.

A centre of excellence for research and development

Our strengths in education also contribute to our performance in innovation and entrepreneurship. A recent report from the Commonwealth Government’s Chief Economist found that Canberra was Australia’s highest performing area on measures of innovation and entrepreneurship. This included:

  • business spending on research and development
  • patent and trademark applications
  • business entries

Canberra’s education and research institutions also attract more than 10% of Australia’s national funding for research and development. Together, Canberra’s tertiary education and research partners lead Australia in the development of several key capability areas. These include:

  • agricultural and environmental sciences
  • ICT and government services
  • defence
  • cyber security
  • space and spatial science
  • renewable energy technologies

To sustain a high research output and to support innovation, commercialisation and postgraduate student placements, industry collaborates with research institutes. These include:

A nationally recognised community of innovation

Funded by the ACT Government, the Canberra Innovation Network (CBRIN) supports and promotes an innovation community. This brings together:

  • world-class researchers
  • entrepreneurs and start-ups
  • innovation companies of all sizes
  • accelerator programs
  • investors
  • venture capitalists

CBRIN also provides mentoring, funding and co-working spaces. It makes good use of other ACT Government programs. These include investment attraction programs and international engagement strategies.

Related Pages

Intellectual capital

With our knowledge-based economy and highly educated workforce, Canberra is the intellectual capital of Australia.

Read more

Innovate ideas & applications

Innovation is in Canberra’s DNA, which is why companies around the world are choosing Canberra as the place to trial new ideas.

Read more

Why start a business in Canberra

Along with our easy commutes and highly educated workforce, discover the many reasons why starting your business here makes great business sense.

Read more

Interested in doing business in Canberra?

Contact the business team for information and advice.