Australia. Plenty of images come to mind when we think of the land down under. Sun-bleached surfers, wallabies, the Sydney Opera House. But, Australia, despite its modest population of 23 million, is more than just a faraway tourist destination. The home of kangaroos, koalas, AC/DC, and vegemite is well on its way to becoming a world leader in the blockchain space. Here are at least five signs of blockchain innovation in Australia right now.
1. Australia Is a World Innovation Center
You might not know it, but Australia is actually the 11th largest economy in the world. And it’s one that’s in a state of transition–fast. With an economy traditionally based on manufacturing, the government’s focus for the future is firmly fixed on technology. And, more specifically, on blockchain innovation in Australia.
They’ve been paving the pathways for this for some time now. In 2016, the government of Southern Australia allocated $80 million to creating jobs of the future and modernizing the economy. In that same year, three of the world’s most disruptive startups on the Disrupt 100 list (curated by the likes of Microsoft Ventures, IBM curate, and Sky News) came from Australia, recognized as having the power to “influence, change or create new global markets.”
There are also plenty of international companies with a foothold down-under. The likes of HP and Microsoft both with innovation centers here. Australia has already made a splash on the world scene with its homegrown telecom company Myriota. The company won best industrial startup at the Internet of Things Summit, Silicon Valley, for their low-cost, low-power IoT transceiver.
And when it comes to blockchain innovation in Australia, their talent pool is quickly deepening, with an entire innovation district Tonsley already blooming in South Australia. With its driverless buses, open spaces, restaurants, and meetup centers, Tonsley is Australia’s answer to Silicon Valley. A place to foster creative thinking, innovation, incubation, skills, connections, and conditions needed for new technology like blockchain to thrive.
TechStars’ first accelerator program in the Asia-Pacific region is based in Adelaide and the entrepreneur scene is thriving in this Australian city. As the US continues to forge its path to regulating cryptocurrencies, smaller countries, it seems, are steaming ahead. Well, smaller population countries anyway.
2. A Pioneering Stock Exchange
Despite recent announcements from NYSE parent company ICE and Switzerland’s SIX, Australia’s largest stock exchange is already light years ahead. Not only has The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) already been listing cryptocurrency exchanges and blockchain companies since 2014, but they’re actually migrating their entire infrastructure to blockchain by 2020.
3. Government Funding for Blockchain Research and Development
In May, the Australian government announced they would allocate $700,000 AUD ($500,000 US) to “blockchain research,” and how to use it to deliver more reliable and secure government services. Part of the money will also go towards funding a Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) to evaluate using blockchain for government payments.
4. Academic Centers of Excellence
Australia is also earning a reputation for leading academic centers of excellence in blockchain technology. The RMIT University, for example, has a long-established blockchain innovation hub and has already committed just shy of $3 million of funding in blockchain innovation in Australia. The institution claims to be the “world’s leading social science research institute in blockchain.”
5. Major Blockchain Companies
Finally, some major blockchain projects are coming out of Australia as well, including Perth-based blockchain technology company DigitalX that was listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) in June 2014. As an innovative blockchain company, they offer ICO consulting, blockchain software development, and other consulting services.
Blockchain Innovation in Australia Is Booming
With a government committed to fostering innovation and technology, and conditions ripe for it, it will be interesting to watch developments in Australia. We’ll see if IBM can get it right this time, and how the ASX blockchain-based system works. So, instead of looking around for innovative companies, next time, it may pay to look down under.