The Business Characteristics Survey (BCS) is an annual survey and is the vehicle for estimates of business innovation, business use of information technology, and a broad range of other non-financial business characteristics.
The BCS has recently gone through a redevelopment process; changes have been made to both the survey content and sample design.
The BCS now comprises of two question modules to be collected in alternate years:
- a subject specific Innovation module; and
- an omnibus style collection with a strong focus on Digital Activities.
The 2020-21 BCS Innovation module is the first iteration of the survey since the redevelopment.
The reference period for most of the innovation items included in the 2020-21 BCS is during the two years ended 30 June 2021 or as at 30 June 2021.
The BCS draws on the conceptual definitions and guidelines included in the 'Oslo Manual: Guidelines for Collecting and Interpreting Innovation Data' (Fourth Edition, 2018). This manual provides a framework for the collection of innovation statistics and specifies the definitions of innovating businesses and innovation-active businesses that are used by the ABS. The BCS draws on this manual for some of the questions used in the BCS and in the presentation of outputs from the survey.
Key indicators of innovation include measures of business innovation (innovating, innovation-active); types of innovation (goods or services, processes); and status of innovation (introduced, still in development, abandoned). Definitions for each of these measures of business innovation are provided in the Glossary.
Business counts in this release and comparability with others published by the ABS
Estimates of the number of businesses operating in Australia can be derived from several sources within the ABS. They may relate to a particular point in time or may be presented as an average annual figure. However, these estimates will not always show the same results. Variations will occur because of differing data sources, differing scope and coverage definitions between surveys, as well as variations due to sampling and non-sampling error. More information about business counts can be found in the Information Paper: A Statistical View of Counts of Businesses in Australia, Jun 2005.
The BCS is not designed to provide high quality estimates of numbers of businesses for any of the output classifications (for example, employment size or industry) and the number of businesses in this publication are only included to provide contextual information for the user. The estimate of the total number of businesses may not be equal to the sum of each employment size range due to rounding of business counts to the nearest thousand. A more robust source of counts of Australian businesses is available from Counts of Australian Businesses, including Entries and Exits, Jul 2017 to Jun 2021.
For output purposes, businesses are classified to employment size ranges based on actual data reported in the survey. Since 2018-19, outputs for some data items in the 0-19 employment size range (small businesses) are made available. In 2020-21, outputs are made available for an additional size range of 0-199 for the first time.
For industry output, the classification is drawn from information held about the business on the ABSBR.
For state output, the classification is drawn from the main state of operation of the business.
Rounding and other adjustments
Estimates of proportions have been calculated using unrounded figures but are shown in the tables rounded to one tenth of a percentage point. Where figures have been rounded, discrepancies may occur between the sum of the component items and the total. Figures presented in the commentary have been rounded to the whole percentage.
ABS publications draw extensively on information provided freely by individuals, businesses, governments, and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated: without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.