Breakthrough Victoria’s latest $15 million investment is bringing another US company to Melbourne

- June 19, 2024 2 MIN READ
The Liquid Instruments team
Breakthrough Victoria, the state government’s $2 billion tech investment fund, is backing California-based Liquid Instruments with $15 million to bring the test equipment manufacturer to Melbourne.

The 10-year-old firm, headquartered in San Diego, began life in Canberra, and builds cutting-edge test and measurement instruments used by engineers, scientists, and students, which can be reconfigured, saving time and money in the field. Their products provide up to 14 different instruments accessible through a single device, ranging from standard tools like oscilloscopes to advanced offerings like lock-in amplifiers.

The tech hardware startup emerged out of R&D at Australian National University, where CEO and cofounder Daniel Shaddock is a Professor of physics, specialising in precision measurements using laser interferometry. Before joining ANU he was a Director’s Fellow at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Prof. Shaddock leads Australia’s involvement in NASA’s GRACE Follow-on mission to map the Earth’s gravity.

Liquid Instruments is already collaborating with Victorian partners to manufacture its products, and the company will expand that base in the wake of the $15m from Breakthrough Victoria as it prepares to release a next-generation device.

The company has also pledged to open an office in Melbourne and hire dozens of new employees in high-tech roles, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, computer science and advanced manufacturing. Liquid Instruments also plans to expand its internship program, targeting students from Victorian universities.

Breakthrough Victoria CEO, Grant Dooley said the benefits from the deal will be widespread.

“The impact of Breakthrough Victoria’s investment in Liquid Instruments will be felt across various levels of the state’s innovation sector, from stronger manufacturing capability in Victoria, to cost-effective lab solutions for researchers, engineers, and students in a single piece of hardware,” he said.

Professor Shaddock said they’re pleased to expand into Victoria.

“This investment will allow us to strengthen and grow our manufacturing partnerships in Australia and forge new collaborations with researchers from world-class institutions at the forefront of technology development, including the University of Melbourne, RMIT University, Swinburne University of Technology and Monash University,” he said.

It’s the second major investment by Breakthrough Victoria in a US company to bring them to the state, having poured $37 million into near-space exploration platform World View. But in this instance it’s more like the federal and Queensland governments backing for US-based PsiQuantum, founded by three Australian professors, to bring that tech home to Brisbane.

The sovereign venture fund, which saw its funding cut by $360 million over 4 years in May’s Victorian Budget, has been under pressure at critics who want it abolished in recent months, but continues to make regular investment announcements, including $5m for Melbourne Uni-backed medical manufacturing startup Neo-Bionica.