Friday, 03 July 2020 Sydney

ACT AND CANBERRA - Investment destination Profile::

Canberra - the capital city of Australia - is the urban center of the Australian Capital Territory (the ACT). The Territory is home to a population of approximately 353,000 and occupies an area of 814.2 square kilometers. The ACT region, comprising of the ACT and local government regions in close proximity, has a population over 550,000.  By 2050, the ACT population alone is projected to increase by 42 per cent to over 500,000. 



The ACT’s Gross State Product (GSP) rose by 1.4 per cent in volume terms in 08/09 to reach AUD $25.9 billion.



Over the course of the previous 10 years, GSP in Canberra has grown in real terms by almost 40%.  During the recent economic downturn, the ACT was a star performer among advanced economies globally and Australia’s States and Territories with growth of 2.5% in 2009.


Note: the ACT’s growth in GSP in 08/09 of 1.4% was higher than the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate (1.1%)  



Key investment areas include:



World-class research and industry innovation are the hallmarks of biotechnology in Australia’s national capital.  Canberra’s biotechnology industry is recognised globally for its intellectual asset base, research capability, knowledge generation capacity and its global connectedness.  The sector has leading capabilities in areas including genetics, immunology, molecular bioscience, neuroscience, phenomics and medical devices.


Building and Construction

The ACT has a diverse and capable building and construction sector employing some 14,000 people.  The sector covers the full spectrum from residential to high end commercial developments.  There is also a wealth of professional services supporting the industry including world class engineers, architects, designers, surveyors, financial providers, and legal and accounting professionals. The ACT has 1,400 firms providing these services and most national construction companies also undertake significant projects in Canberra.


Creative Industries

Canberra has a concentration of creative talent and expertise spanning different mediums, media, technology and applications.  Canberra also has a creative industries infrastructure that is second-to-none in Australia.  Underlying Canberra’s visible face of art and culture is a burgeoning creative industry with great variety, expert skills and boundless energy.  The Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries reported that there are approximately 2,990 cultural and creative businesses in Canberra.  This represents 10.7 per cent businesses in the ACT.


Defence and Security

Defence and security are among Canberra’s largest industry sectors. The sector is driven by the purchasing of the Department of Defence and various national security agencies.  An industry has emerged around this purchasing with clear ACT based capability around garrison support, professional services and procurement services and major capital equipment manufacturers and suppliers.


The Department of Defence has one of the largest budgets of any Australian Government agency at over A$25 billion for the financial year 2009-10. Approximately 15 per cent, or A$4 billion of this, is indirectly spent within the Canberra economy. There are over 13,000 military and defence-civilian personnel working in Canberra and the region, or about 14 per cent of the nation’s defence deployment.



Canberra has long recognised that the knowledge and skills that emanate from a strong education infrastructure are major contributors to economic performance.  Education is not only vital for the development of knowledge based industries, but is an important export industry in its own right.


Internationally, Australia is considered to be an attractive destination for international students.  And within Australia, Canberra is a premier destination for students.  This is due to its reputation as a provider of quality education with flexible learning pathways, its multicultural society and its safe environment.


Information and Communications Technology

The Canberra Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector is a competitive strength of the ACT economy, providing ICT services and expertise as well as enabling technology for Canberra’s knowledge economy.


At the core of the ICT industry strength is the Australian Government, which spends over A$4 billion annually on ICT related products and services. The size of this market, the need to understand it intimately and the tendency for governments to outsource ICT solutions, has provided a strong impetus for business development in the Canberra private sector.




Public Administration

Around 40 per cent of ACT’s workforce comprises Australian Government public servants who advise on policy and administer the A$200 billion business of government from Canberra.  Procurement decision making around information and communications technology (ICT), defence technology, national research priorities and national security are based in Canberra. Many of the global private sector suppliers to these government markets have significant operations in Canberra.


Space Sciences

Canberra has a growing space science and space industry capability covering diverse areas in earth observation technologies, satellite communications, defence systems, debris tracking and interdiction technologies, and deep space observation.


Sports Science and Sports Administration

The opening of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in Canberra almost 30 years provided the catalyst for the emergence of a significant sports science and sports administration cluster in Canberra.  Outstanding world class facilities and cutting edge sports science and sports medicine services have attracted the world’s best athletes and coaches across Olympic and team based sports.


Tourism and Conventions

Tourism is the largest private sector segment of the ACT economy.  Canberra is home to over 6,800 tourism related businesses. The ACT attracts around 3.5 million international and domestic visitors annually who spend some A$1.3 billion in the local economy2.  Canberra is a thriving modern city with world class galleries and museums, stylish restaurants and bars, craft and food markets and plenty of fun for families and travellers seeking a unique experience.


Government Support


The ACT Government welcomes business investment and has a strong track record in providing professional and confidential assistance to investors, free of charge.


The Australian Government also has an array of programmes to support Canberra businesses with funding and services to support research and development, commercialisation, business growth and trade and export.  Canberra is also home to many of Australia’s leading business and industry associations that deliver support and advocacy to member businesses.


If you are considering investing in the ACT, the Business and Industry Development Branch of the Chief Minister’s Department is your first point of contact. Use local knowledge to save valuable time and money. The ACT Government can provide you with a dedicated case manager, help you cut through the decision making maze and connect you with the right industry and government contacts.





A Networked City

Canberra has Australia's most advanced fibre optic cable network; it allows for greater bandwidth, speed, and a better capacity to link to e-commerce applications than anywhere else in the world.  Business and economic development is supported by high quality infrastructure.


Australia’s Best-Educated Workforce

Canberra is, on average, more computer-literate than the rest of Australia. Notably, it has more tertiary qualifications, per capita, than any city in the Southern Hemisphere.


Government Purchasing Power

Canberra is the seat of the Australian Government. The majority of government procurement is handled by Canberra-based departments, the Department of Defense being among its largest customers in the country.


High Disposable Incomes

Canberra households have higher disposable incomes than Australia's national average, thanks to its high workforce participation rate and above-average earnings. The result is a healthy market for a variety of goods and services, from restaurants to automobiles and from household goods to personal products.


Responsive Regulatory Environment

The Australian Capital Territory Government serves the function of both a state/territory government and a local government. This results in the simplification of much of the activity and dealings between businesses and government.


Safe, Multi-cultural Society

Canberra is considered a cosmopolitan city and is a diplomatic hub. It has a low crime-rate and, regionally, offers excellent health and education facilities.


Strategic Location

Canberra is close in proximity to major agricultural and commercial centers. It is strategically located between Australia’s two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, and road, rail and air links connect Canberra to major capitals and regional centers in the country.



Picturesque location and mountain views characterize Canberra, a young city with the outdoors as one of its many qualities. Art, music, theater as well as organized and individual sports are featured, supported by great facilities.


Top Education and Research Institutions

Canberra is home to a cluster of high quality research universities, the CSIRO, National ICT Australia (NICTA) the AIS and many Australian Government funded Cooperative Research Centres.




Land area: 2,358 km2

Capital: Canberra

Population, 2010: 353,000

Population Density: 149 persons/km2

Australian Capital Region



Workforce: 196,600 (Jan 2010)

Unemployment rate: 3.3% (April 2010)

Inflation rate: 1.4% (2009)

Gross State Product: $24,916m (2008-09)

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics



Business Climate: More than 25,000 businesses operate in Canberra. Many of them are micro businesses that serve larger businesses, public sectors or the needs of local people. Additionally, being the national capital, there is much government purchasing power at dispense.


Canberra as Destination for International Students:  Canberra is considered a premier destination for students nationally and internationally. A range of high quality and well-regarded institutions and education providers are offered in the city. 






See Your Business In Canberra Australia’s Capital – Investing in Canberra 2010 -11:

Australian Government, 2010,

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