Superannuation fund UniSuper will invest $75 million into pioneering early-stage venture capital fund Uniseed in its first move into VC.
Uniseed is the country’s oldest commercialisation fund, established in 2000. It is jointly owned by Universities of Melbourne, Queensland, Sydney, New South Wales and the CSIRO, and backs research and tech ventures developed by those five partners.
Around half of all patents created by research organisations in Australia.
Under the deal, UniSuper has committed $75 million into Uniseed to cover existing projects, as well as new projects in emerging industries such as biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, quantum computing and green energy. The investment represents 0.07% of the $106 billion in member’s funds UniSuper has in funds under management.
Among startups Uniseed has backed, recent exits include sold power-monitoring startup Aurtra acquired by Schneider Electric, plastics venture TenasiTech sold to Canadian thermoplastics supplier RTP Co. In 2015, UniSeed-backed neuropathic pain treatment startup Spinifex was acquired by Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis International for A$267 million.
Uniseed’s CEO Peter Devine said that UniSuper’s investment will unlock more engagement with Australia’s growing innovation and startup sector.
“UniSuper is one of Australia’s largest and most respected and innovative super funds, and the capital at its disposal will go a long way to ensuring we can seize opportunities presented by the brilliant minds at Australia’s top research organisations,” he said.
“This is a further step Uniseed is taking to facilitate commercialisation of Australian research. Today’s emergent start-ups are tomorrow’s tech and health giants, and with funding from UniSuper we are able to get in at the very early stages of these journeys.”
UniSuper’s Chief Investment Officer John Pearce says that Uniseed was a natural fit and logical choice for the superannuation fund.
“UniSuper has always championed Australia’s thinkers, creators and investigators. Uniseed is at the forefront of new start-ups and technologies,” he said.
“This is an excellent opportunity for UniSuper to actively participate in the development and commercialisation of research and technology that will shape the future. We look forward to seeing this investment blossom and grow over time”.
The investments will feed into UniSuper’s sustainable investment options.