Brisbane: A hub for innovation and the gateway to Asia

By Olivia Minnock

A fast-growing economy

Brisbane has been dubbed “Australia’s new world city” and currently has a $146bn economy.

According to, by 2031 the economy for Greater Brisbane will match that of New Zealand with a value approaching $250bn. Its diverse economy has “traditional pillars such as mining services and construction making way for a raft of new growth sectors including education, advanced manufacturing and health services.” This growth will likely come from its biggest sector, health and social care, as the population ages.

Economist Gene Tunny told Courier Mail: “What we will see is a continuing expansion of aged and health care, combined with NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) investment, being a huge driver of employment in the future.”

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Education and innovation

In terms of its workforce, Brisbane has shown strong population growth for the past two decades and this is set to continue. According to, the population is projected to grow to 3.12mn by 2031. At present, the Greater Brisbane region holds 2.2mn people and 42.8% of these are aged between 25 and 54, with 22% holding bachelor degrees. It has the fastest employment growth of all Australian capitals and has the second-highest full-time employment rate in the country, with 65% of those employed working full-time.

Playing host to three major Australian universities, Brisbane not only has a highly-educated workforce but is a hub for research. Griffith University, a global top 5% institution, is famed for its research into health and the environment. Queensland University of Technology is a 45,000 student-strong organisation which is ranked 2nd of all Australia’s universities under 50 years old. The University of Queensland is a member of the world’s top 100 institutes and is a leading organisation in Australia for new patents, licence income and start-up companies.

It is unsurprising then that Brisbane was the city to develop the world’s first vaccine for cervical cancer, which has now been rolled out by several governments around the world. The city has been ranked in the top 15% worldwide for innovation in the Innovation Cities Global Index, and the greatest number of patents in the country come from Australia.

Little Tokyo Two… collaborative workspace

As well as other areas of innovation, Brisbane is fast becoming known as a tech hub. A prime example of this is Little Tokyo Two, a company providing workspace and innovation hubs for entrepreneurs, which has chosen to use Brisbane as its base for a variety of reasons. Its headquarters is at Spring Hill, but the business also has locations at Petrie Terrace in the city as well as its newest offering, The Capital building, in Brisbane’s CBD. Workspaces are also offered in other Queensland locations: Springfield and Gold Coast.

Little Tokyo Two dubs itself “one of the largest and most dynamic communities of entrepreneurs, innovators and creators in South East Queensland”. Championing collaboration, trust, openness and support, the organisation boasts a range of members between the ages of 15 and 70, with most around 30 to 35. It provides not only 24-hour workspace for collaboration but also mentoring programmes for start-ups and entrepreneurs, with 55% of members being less than three years in business. 

The company boasts “a thriving event program” with “plenty of chances to rub shoulders with like-minded folks” and says the strategic partnerships it offers will “create untapped opportunities that you may never have thought possible”.

Brisbane as a gateway…

Brisbane is the closest Australian capital to Asia, and as such is seen as a gateway between whole continents. The port of Brisbane is one of the fastest-growing container ports in Australia, and is a hub for over 35 shipping lines. Located just 24km from the CBS, states the port is five sailing days closer to Asia than Sydney of Melbourne.

In addition, Brisbane plays host to a top world airport in which 34 airlines operate with links to Singapore, Hong Kong, LA and Dubai. Currently several billions are being spent on improving the airport, which includes the construction of a new parallel runway.

Other infrastructure developments include the Queen’s Wharf Development in the CBD, and a $5bn cross river rail project to open up corridors and transit centres such as Woolloongaba.

The city says it is “committed to strengthening trade and commerce across the globe and rapidly becoming a powerhouse in the Asia Pacific region”.


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