Healthcare superannuation fund HESTA has revealed that it chipped in $4.4 million to a $35 million Series B for Sydney biotech startup Inventia Life Science.
The deal marks the first direct investment made by a super fund into an early-stage startup. The industry has previously tipped their cash into venture capital funds, with the VCs in turn making the investments.
The Sydney-based cancer research and drug development biotech startup announced its landmark capital raise in December last year, but did not reveal HESTA’s backing. The round was led by Blackbird Ventures, with Skip Capital, the family VC of Kim Jackson and Atlassian’s Scott Farquhar. Blackbird introduced HESTA to the opportunity.
Founded in 2013 by doctors Julio Ribeiro, Dr Aidan O’Mahony and Cameron Ferris, and Peter Arthur, Inventia is a world leader in advanced 3D cell cultures for research and clinical use. The cash was earmarked for expansion into the US, ramp up the headcount from 36 now to 150 by 2024, and market its RASTRUM 3D cell culture platform. Inventia builds printers and formulate bioinks that together allow human cells to be printed in three-dimensional structures to aid with research and medical discovery.
The bioprinter enables the scale-up production of 3D cell cultures for research and 3D cells for clinical trials.
Dr Ribeiro, Inventia’s CEO, said they were delighted to partner with one of the leading institutional investors in HESTA.
“This additional investment will provide critical support to drive the commercialisation of RASTRUM and expansion into the US market. Furthermore, this investment will hopefully encourage other super funds to engage with Australia’s growing and thriving start-up scene,” he said.
HESTA Chief Investment Officer Sonya Sawtell-Rickson said the direct investment is part of a broader focus on identifying investment opportunities in health technology and innovation.
“Through this partnership with Inventia, our members are invested in a company developing breakthrough bioprinting technology, enabling life-changing biomedical research and therapies,” she said.
“Investments like this support innovative startups at an early stage of their growth, which can deliver strong returns for members while having a positive impact on the world they will retire into.”
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