Venture Capital

Queensland government backs 5 VCs, including Antler and Main Sequence, with $130 million

- February 14, 2024 3 MIN READ
Bede Moore and Mike Abbott, Antler
Antler in Australia partners Bede Moore and Mike Abbott
The Queensland government’s new venture capital development fund has backed five VCs: Antler, Five V Capital, Main Sequence, Mandalay Venture Partners and Salus Ventures, with a combined $130 million investment.

Treasurer and Minister for Trade and Investment Cameron Dick said the deals will give Queensland startups access to up to $200 million in new matched funding as the VCs expand their presence in the state.

The Queensland Investment Corporation (QIC) is making the investments via the Queensland Venture Capital Development Fund (QVCDF).

For Antler, which launched in Sydney in 2019 before expanding to Melbourne in 2021, it means the global early-stage VC now covers the eastern seaboard. 

Antler in Australia partner Mike Abbott said the partnership and expansion will also enable Antler to further support Queensland innovation, having already invested in 9 local startups.

“Our ultimate goal is to assist Queensland founders in establishing more than 15 companies over the next four years, leading the way in Australian innovation,” he said. 

“The attraction to the QVCDF was immediate, given its synergy with our foundational mission to empower entrepreneurial talent. Queensland’s rich tapestry of industries and academic excellence presents a fertile ground for pioneering startups.

“Through this partnership, we are excited to tap into the state’s pool of ambitious individuals and support them in creating companies that stand at the forefront of innovation.” 

Antler, which creates proprietary deal flow through its residencies, will host its first Queensland-based cohort in 2026, and is currently taking applications from Queensland founders for its Sydney and Melbourne residencies, which kick off in May.

Nicholas Guest, a partner at QIC Private Equity, said both organisations are focused on filling the early-stage funding gap as well as attracting leading entrepreneurial talent to the sunshine state. 

“Queensland’s innovation sector will benefit from Antler’s expertise, networks, and capital through the Queensland Venture Capital Development Fund,” he said.

“By coming together to help close the identified early-stage funding gap, we can attract and retain the nation’s best and brightest to take Queensland innovation global.” 

In just five years, Antler has helped more than 900 founders launch and scale their next startup, backing 30% of those founders or more than 120 Australian early-stage startups. Its portfolio companies include Pathzero, Upcover and Xailient.

Queensland treasurer and deputy premier Cameron Dick said Antler, Five V and Salus will appoint Queensland-based staff alongside Main Sequence and Mandalay, which are already part of the local ecosystem.

“Our total $130 million commitment will generate up to $200 million in start-up funding for Queensland’s best and brightest,” he said.

“In making more capital available, businesses do not need to leave our state to pursue funding elsewhere – they can establish, grow and remain in Queensland.

“Also, because of the huge interest in the Fund and Queensland’s strong budget position, the Miles Government is investing a further $55 million into the program.”

Main Sequence has backed local startups including Gold Coast rocket maker Gilmour Space, which is launching its first rocket from Queensland soil this year, Brisbane drone mapping and data analytics startup Emesent and BHP-backed mining tech venture Plotlogic since it launched in 2017, investment manager Alezeia Brown said.

“Main Sequence has been investing in Queensland deep tech companies since we were founded in 2017 and have partnered with a number of world-leading Queensland companies,” she said.

“We believe there are great opportunities to build entirely new industries in Queensland and catalyse the transformation of the state’s traditional strengths into sustainable leaders.

“By drawing on world-class research and talent, these industries will benefit Queensland and Australia with new jobs and create the valuable planetary positive companies of the future.”

The QVCDF has three core elements: matched funding with the VCs from the Queensland government; funding for accelerator programs to increase deal flow; and a development program for the five chosen VCs venture capital funds and accelerators to accelerate, develop and enhance the VC sector in the state .

QIC will also deploy additional funding to increase commitments to certain shortlisted venture capital funds amid plans to include additional VC funds to increase the thematic coverage of QVCDF investments.