Melbourne Uni-backed medical manufacturing startup Neo-Bionica scores $5 million from Breakthrough Victoria

- May 16, 2024 2 MIN READ
Ludovic Labat
Noe-Bionica CEO Ludovic Labat
Budget cuts and ongoing criticism of the state government-backed Breakthrough Victoria have not slowed its capital deployment, with $5 million invested in medtech manufacturing startup Neo-Bionica.

Founded in 2021 as a joint initiative of the Bionics Institute and the University of Melbourne and based at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, Neo-Bionica was developed to fill a gap in medical device prototype manufacturing capability.

It offers end-to-end medical device prototype development, clinical trials, and initial low-volume manufacturing support.

Neo-Bionica labs

The Neo-Bionica labs

Neo-Bionica provides advanced commercialisation and manufacturing services to medtech innovators, specialising in engineering, bioelectronics and neurotechnology, to design and develop implantable and wearable medical devices.

The $5 million in funding will see Neo-Bionica expand its manufacturing capability, facilities and market presence, with its growth predicted to generate of up to 45 new jobs. It currently has two workshops and two independent cleanrooms for microfabrication, assembly and testing capabilities. 

Neo-Bionica CEO Ludovic Labat said the investment will see them accelerate their domestic and global expansion plans.

“We are extremely excited to have Breakthrough Victoria’s support as we embark on our next growth phase,” he said.

“We are very proud to be an Australian company supporting local medtech innovators and exporting Australian medtech expertise to the world.”

Breakthrough Victoria CEO, Grant Dooley said Neo-Bionica is unique in Australia.

“It significantly speeds up the time it takes to develop and trial a medical device, which means people will benefit from the technology earlier,” he said.

“By supporting startups to develop, trial and manufacture medical technology in Victoria, we can ensure these life-saving technologies benefit and prioritise local patients, increase jobs and investments in the state.”

Breakthrough Victoria was established in 2021 with the state government giving the sovereign venture fund $2 billion to back local startup. But in last week’s Victorian budget treasurer Tim Pallas cut $360 million in funding from the fund, while also extending Breakthrough Victoria’s investment profile from 10 to 15 years, with Pallas saying it gives them “more time to review and be selective about quality investments, ”

Neo-Bionica is the fund’s 25th startup investment.

Breakthrough Victoria criticism

Adir Shiffman, chair of ASX-listed Catapult Sports, has spearheaded a sustained and high profile media campaign critical of Breakthrough Victoria, calling for it to be shut down.

After the fund announced $37 million for US near-space exploration platform World View to set up shop in Melbourne, ABC TV’s 7.30pm program ran a second story critical of Breakthrough Victoria, this time with Real VC founder Matt Berriman, who recently stepped down as chair of Mental Health Australia to campaign on the issue at the upcoming federal election.

Berriman said Breakthrough Victoria is “a complete waste of money, and should have been shut down a long time ago”.

The previous 7.30 story featured investor Matt Rockman calling for the fund to be shut down.

Critics have argued that Breakthrough Victoria competes with other venture capital funds for investment.

Breakthrough Victoria’s investment have included funding for venture co-investment by others, including $100 million in pre-seed funding for uni startups and $7.5 million in the $15m University of Melbourne Genesis Pre-Seed Fund

The fund has is expected to invest in 10 startups in FY2025.


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