The number of early-stage startups in Australia has fallen for the first time in five years.
According to the annual Startup Muster report, released yesterday, 12.5% fewer startups were active in 2018 than in 2017.
“This is an incredibly surprising result,” said Startup Muster Chair, Murray Hurps, adding “and a sign Australia could now be entering a post-ideas boom age.”
Hurps has called for sustained support for “the creation of new startups, the talent pipelines to feed them, and the environment for them to succeed in” as the enthusiasm from government and organisations begins to wane.
The report also identifies artificial intelligence (AI) as the top industry focus for Australian startups, with fintech dropping to number two.
“The proportion of Australian startups focused on AI has increased from 6% just two years ago, to 21% today,” says Hurps.
“This result points to an increasingly strong argument for entrepreneurship as a way to take advantage of AI, rather than waiting to be displaced by it.”
Along with the falling number of early-stage startups, the number of women founding their own startup has also decreased for the first time since 2014.
“We have a significant cultural challenge in Australia, and we need to figure out ways of inspiring young Australians to be more entrepreneurial — particularly our young women,” Hurps says, adding that schools and universities play a critical role in educating people of their options.
The Startup Muster 2018 survey collection period for Australia was from August 14, 2017 until August 13, 2018. A total of 777 verified startup founders, 321 future startup founders and 654 startup supporters participated in the report.