The Committee for Adelaide has released Benchmarking Adelaide, a first-of-its kind study of the city, comparing it against 19 international cities, across areas including productivity, business investment, innovation, skills, transport, liveability, sustainability and reputation.
The report, compiled by leading urban intelligence firm The Business of Cities, was commissioned by Committee for Adelaide, JLL, Deloitte, RAA and Hames Sharley, to inform Adelaide’s economic recovery post-Covid, generate conversation and be used as an evidence-base to lobby for policy changes and investment.
Each city included in the study resembled Adelaide for size, lifestyle and endowment, with Adelaide performing most strongly in the following categories:
- 3rd for business and investment dynamics and one of only three of the peer cities to be rated a top place globally for Artificial Intelligence investment;
- 5th for liveability, affordability and wellbeing, with the highest homeownership share among peer cities;
- 2nd behind Austin for its contemporary arts scene;
- 9th for skills, knowledge and population.
The report states that Adelaide is a city of opportunity whose solid population growth and an appealing business environment underpin resilient demand from corporates.
“Adelaide’s multi-national base is key to driving consistent demand from foreign investors,” the report says.
“Adelaide punches at or above its weight for attracting investment into creative and technology sectors like AI, film, television and business processes.”
However, there are areas Adelaide is lagging behind comparable peers:
- Adelaide’s productivity is nearly 20 per cent below peer cities and the share of jobs in high-paid sectors is 10 per cent smaller than its leading counterparts;
- The city ranks 15th for innovation and research and development;
- It is the 16th ranked city for amenity, vibrancy and experience;
- The efficiency of Adelaide’s transport and infrastructure services is behind many peer cities owing to longer public transport commute times and poor cycling infrastructure.
Creating greater demand for high-skill and high-paid jobs in established and emerging industries will be important if Adelaide wants to become a high-productivity economy, the report says, noting that Adelaide trails its peers in a crucial area of worker productivity.
“Compared to cities internationally Adelaide has only made a patchy transition to jobs in high-paying sectors,” the report says.
“Adelaide has the potential to establish itself as a high-value city, to the benefit of Australia, Asia-Pacific and the world,” the report says. “It is likely to need bold new approaches to succeed in the innovation economy and the race for talent.”
The report also praises Adelaide for high standards of living, health and services, and its enviable combination of liveability and affordability. But it warns the city is becoming “comparably less affordable”.
“Others are catching up or even overtaking on health and wellbeing, public transport, walkable neighbourhoods and access to green space,” the report says.
The report suggests that Adelaide’s future success will be determined by achieving critical mass in key innovation niches, amplifying its reputation for quality of life, and ensuring the city is resilient to climate change, and avoids unsustainable and unproductive growth.
Committee for Adelaide Chief Executive Sam Dighton said that this report has “reinforced Adelaide’s standing as a great place to live and work, but it has also identified weaknesses that are holding back our true economic and social potential.
“We should not shy away from the challenges that face us, and this report provides a fresh perspective on the opportunities to guide our city’s reinvention and how we can capitalise on our advantages in key industries to attract and retain talent.”
JLL SA Managing Director Ben Parkinson said, “the Benchmarking Adelaide report provides some great insights about what we’re doing well, the business confidence, and the opportunities, such as Adelaide being the only major Australian city where construction costs have become cheaper in relative terms year-on-year.
“This has seen an increase in cross-border interest from developers, particularly in the living sectors namely Build to Rent, student accommodation and affordable housing.
“We are particularly optimistic about the investment dynamics and the significant global ranking for AI – this is particularly relevant when it comes to the emerging sectors in the CBD around Lot Fourteen and the Biomedical precinct. This gives Adelaide the ability to attract global tech and medical tenants to the city from AI, cyber defence and machine learning sectors.”
Deloitte South Australia Managing Partner Hendri Mentz said that this report “clearly shows South Australia’s economic strengths and opportunities. We can see that to build our economy we need to invest in future generations and technology-based industries.
“Deloitte is dedicated to this investment and is focussed on attracting and retaining some of our brightest minds to grow and develop, which is great for their careers and our state”.
RAA CEO Nick Reade said, “when it comes to transport and infrastructure this report validates much of what we already know – that Adelaide is falling behind where it needs to be.
“We need to make public transport more efficient and attractive to commuters, we need to invest in cycling infrastructure and transition all transport to zero emissions.
“Adelaide ranking 6th in population growth is positive, but this highlights the need to prioritise investment in our transport system and key infrastructure projects, particularly in high growth areas.”
Hames Sharley Managing Director Cailin Howard said, “cities are living, changing things that serve and attract their population. Some parts are nimble, some are very slow to move.
“They can be a simple reaction to the inhabitants, however at their best, they are planned and considered – they have the ability to create change and bring opportunity and joy to their population. That’s the goal.
“We must equally look from within, as well as from the outside. There is so much to learn and understand from both perspectives.
“Excitingly, this benchmarking gives us the clues of where to look and what to address.”