Government-owned Breakthrough Victoria is tipping $100 million in pre-seed funding into startups at the state’s universities looking to commercialise research.
Premier Dan Andrews and treasurer Tim Pallas set up the $2 billion Breakthrough Victoria fund, chaired by former premier John Bracks, as an independent investment fund manager investing in commercial innovations in health, technology, manufacturing, agri-food and carbon sectors.
The $100 million Breakthrough Victoria – University Innovation Platform, will see universities match the government pre-seed investments as part of a five-year initiative involving RMIT, Swinburne, Monash, Melbourne, Victoria, La Trobe, Deakin, Federation and the Australian Catholic University.
Last week the fund made its first $7.5 million investment in backing the $15 million University of Melbourne Genesis Pre-Seed Fund in 50-50 deal.
Andrews said the $100m initiative will take the world-class ideas and research coming out of Victorian universities and and help new companies secure their intellectual property, develop prototypes, conduct trials and fine-tune business plans.
The investments in individual startups will range from $200,000 to $1 million.
“Breakthrough Victoria is backing great ideas that will save lives, change the way we live and provide jobs for the generations that will follow us,” Andrews said.
“This is about supporting promising ideas at a crucial stage so we can keep our best and brightest innovators here on home soil – something that’s good for jobs, and good for Victorians.”
The universities involved will be able to co-design their fund, and under the commercial agreements with the government, share any commercial windfalls from the investments with taxpayers on exit.
Breakthrough Victoria will also provide expert investment advice to university innovators.
At RMIT, researchers have developed an ingestible, pill-like device which measures gas concentrations in the gut of humans and animals to diagnose conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, which is being commercialised by Atmo Biosciences.
Atmo recently raised $9.6 million to undertake critical clinical studies and accelerate product development.
Victoria’s startup sector has created more than 60,000 jobs since 2017.