Breakthrough Victoria pours $43 million into five universities to help turn research into startups

- September 19, 2023 2 MIN READ
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The Victorian government’s $2 billion investment fund, Breakthrough Victoria has backed five Victorian universities to help them bring research to market in a deal worth $87 million. 

Deakin, La Trobe, Monash and Swinburne universities have contributed $9 million funding matched by Breakthrough Victoria, with RMIT matching the $7.5 million it has received.

Each partnership will invest in startup companies spun out of research from the universities, with typical pre-seed investments of around $500,000 each.

Breakthrough Victoria CEO Grant Dooley said the funding partnership are part of the organisation’s $100 million University Innovation Platform, announced last year, which aims to increase commercialisation of critical research with real-world benefits.

“Our universities are producing life changing research and innovations, but we underperform when it comes to translating these home-grown ideas into Victorian companies that can develop and manufacture their innovation locally for a global market,” he said.

“By setting up dedicated partnerships to invest in startups coming out of Victorian universities, we can help move life changing research out of the lab and into the market right here in Victoria instead of seeing it being commercialised overseas.”

Dooley said the investments in early-stage startups will help fund product concepts, prototypes and trials to try and prevent research with strong commercial potential perishing in the funding ‘valley of death’.

Researchers and academics will also receive support to better identify and translate ideas into commercial opportunities and improve their entrepreneurial capability.

The investment plan was revealed by the state’s industry and innovation minister, Ben Carroll, at the opening of the Global Entrepreneurship Conference in Melbourne on Tuesday.

“We are backing the translation of unique research and development from our world class universities into commercial opportunities locally and globally. This partnership between Victorian universities and Breakthrough Victoria will ensure our brightest ideas grow locally.”

Monash deputy vice-chancellor, enterprise & engagement, Professor Doron Ben-Meir said the partnership agreements have been co-designed with each individual university to respond to the specific needs and stage of their research commercialisation journey.

“The establishment of this co-investment partnership with Breakthrough Victoria builds on Monash University’s track record of nurturing spinouts,” he said.

With a dedicated allocation of $15 million pre-seed funding, this initiative will serve as a catalyst, offering essential early-stage capital and guidance to propel the emergence of spinouts originating from Monash.”

There are now six university partnerships established under the Breakthrough Victoria – University Innovation Platform, following on from the $15 million University of Melbourne Genesis Pre-Seed Fund, announced last year.

At La Trobe, senior deputy vice-chancellor (Research and Industry Engagement), Professor Susan Dodds said the funding means the university’s pioneering research in areas such as digital health, AI, disease detection and treatment and food security can be translated into applications that will help transform lives nationally and globally.

“This important investment will support and encourage an entrepreneurial mindset, enabling our researchers to create startup companies from their research that will sit within the University’s expanding research and innovation ecosystem, leading to real-world impact,” she said.