Australia’s oldest venture fund, university-backed Uniseed, has doubled its research partners from five to 10 as it looks to back more startups focused on research commercialisation.
Joining its founding ‘sandstone’ uni group – Queensland, NSW, Melbourne, and Sydney, plus science agency CSIRO, are Monash as a full partner, alongside a collaboration partnership of four NSW universities – Newcastle, UTS, Western Sydney and Macquarie.
The five new members collectively spend around $7.7 billion annually on research, which accounts for around 60% of the total spend by Australian R&D-focused organisations.
Uniseed CEO Dr Peter Devine said the expansion demonstrates the important role the fund can play in backing deep tech startups.
“Since the foundation of Uniseed in 2000, we have helped fund 66 startups, each born from Australian research and ingenuity,” he said.
“Seventeen of these have achieved commercial deals with international companies, which is a very high conversion rate. Notable examples include the sale of Spinifex Pharmaceuticals to Novartis AG in 2015, Fibrotech Therapeutics sale to Shire plc in 2014, Aurtra’s sale to Schneider Electric in 2022 and Kinoxis Therapeutics’ collaborative deal with Boehringer Ingelheim in 2023. “
Dr Devine said the new partnerships were watershed moment for the fund to expand its startup funding support.
“Where previously we had the ability to support 42% of spin outs from research organisations in Australia, our partners will now cover more than half of all commercial research output generated by Australian institutions,” he said.
More than 1,000 people have gained work thanks to the investment support from Uniseed, while the startups involved have raised more than $1.2 billion in combined funding.
The addition of the new partners means Uniseed will grow from representing 43% to 60% of expenditure on research in Australia, and from 45% to 77% of new startups formed; as well as from 42% to 53% of active startups.
Both new partners, Monash University and the NSW collective, will match the remaining commitments of Uniseed’s existing members, providing an additional $6.75 million to the Uniseed Fund-3, to increase fund size to $56.75m.
The new funds mean there’s now $23.63 million available for investment from Fund-3. Uniseed also plans to appoint two new investment managers.
Uniseed has super fund UniSuper as its institutional investment partner, with $75 million in 2022 to back sectors such as biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, quantum computing and green energy.
Dr Alastair Hick, Monash University’s Chief Commercialisation Officer, and Warwick Dawson, Pro Vice-Chancellor Industry and Engagement for University of Newcastle, will join the Uniseed board.