Australia’s biggest science investment fund has another $210 million for medical research startups

- May 2, 2019 2 MIN READ

Australian VC firm, Brandon Capital Partners, has just raised another $210 million to invest in commercialising medical research, and is already on the hunt for another $250 million as it edges towards $1 billion in science investments.

The 5th Medical Research Commercialisation Fund, MRCF5, raised AU$210 million from existing investors, taking the total in the life sciences fund to  more than AU$700m. Brandon Capital Managing Director, Dr Chris Nave, who’s also MRCF CEO, says they’re now looking at approaching selected institutional investors about the potential for a second close to raise an additional AU$250m.

Brandon has built a solid track record of medical investments in just 11 years, investing in more than 40 companies and recently exiting from three: Elastagen, sold to Allergan last year, Spinifex (sold to Novartis in 2015) and Fibrotech (sold to Shire in 2014).

MRCF CEO Dr Chris Nave. Photo: Chris Hopkins

MRCF-backed medical devices companies Global Kinetics Corporation (GKC) and Osprey Medical have both brought products to market. GKC is selling a Parkinson’s disease monitoring system in 17 countries, and Osprey Medical is selling a dye reduction system for use in coronary angiography procedures in the US.

Brandon currently has investments in a dozen more companies with products in clinical development.

MRCF5’s funds will be invested in early-stage medical research discoveries linked to MRCF members, a network of more than 50 leading medical research institutes and hospitals in Australia and New Zealand.

The previous $230m fund, MRCF4, is still actively investing in later-stage Australian biomedical companies that have progressed to clinical studies.

Dr Chris Nave said MRCF5 will help turn homegrown biomedical innovations into life-saving therapies and support the local innovation ecosystem.

“Our previous early-stage fund, MRCF3, has now built a portfolio of 16 exciting new companies, eight of which have progressed their assets from the pre-clinical stage to human trials,” he said.

“The capital remaining in MRCF3 has been reserved to support the existing portfolio and therefore, it was time for us to raise our next early-stage fund.”

He said the first investments in the new fund have already been identified.

“Today, biomedical manufacturing sector is one of significant to Australia ’s largest exporters of manufactured products, employing people in a high-tech, high value, manufacturing jobs,” Dr Nave said.

MRCF Board Chairman, Alan Stockdale, a former Victorian state treasurer, will shortly be replaced by former Queensland premier Peter Beattie, the current ARL Commission chairman.

Beattie said MRCF was a unique collaboration of member institutes, with technical development capabilities and a focus on medical innovations.

“We assist by providing the capital and expertise to help guide them through the development and commercialisation pathways. This often involves establishing a company and putting in place a management team, in addition to providing the funding well before clinical trials or commercialisation,” he said.

“Our research institutes boast some of the world’s best biomedical researchers, but historically there has been a lack of capital available for early-stage biotechnology companies and a limited amount of commercialisation expertise within the academic sector. The MRCF provides companies with vital capital through various stages of development, and works hand in hand with researchers and technology transfer groups to commercialise research into therapies that benefit public health globally.”

The VC fund comes on top of the Australian government’s $20 billion sovereign wealth fund, the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), which also focuses on developing medical innovations.