Venture Capital

Queensland backs local VC Sprint Ventures, lures Blues fund Tidal Ventures north

- June 4, 2024 3 MIN READ
Llew Jury, Georgia Barkell and Heath Shonhan
Llew Jury, Georgia Barkell and Heath Shonhan from Sprint Ventures
Brisbane early and growth-stage venture capital fund Sprint Ventures is among four new VCs to be backed by the state government’s Queensland Investment Corporation (QIC) as part of an ambitious plan to invest in more local startups.

The QIC-managed Queensland Venture Capital Development Fund (QVCDF) is the cornerstone investor for Sprint Fund 3.

It follows an initial investment from the $130 million fund to five VCs: Antler, Five V Capital, Main Sequence, Mandalay Venture Partners and Salus Ventures earlier this year.

QVCDF gives the VCs up to $20 million in matched funding on the condition that they either expand or set up shop in the state.

Already $8.7 million has been invested in seven startups in the Maroons state.

The latest round sees QVCDF also handing over capital to non-Queensland VCs Tidal, Brandon Capital and Jekara.

Sprint managing partner Georgia Barkell said the QVCDF will increase the number of investments Sprint can make in some of Queensland’s fastest-growing sectors.

“Boasting a strong commitment to healthcare and one of Australia’s fastest-growing populations, Queensland presents a wealth of opportunities to digitize its healthcare system,” she said.

“With excellent universities, well-equipped hospitals, government funding, and innovation hubs like LuminaX, the state is well-positioned to lead the way in digital healthcare solutions.”

Barkell said they’re also seeing the climate tech sector boom fuelled by government investment in renewables and conservation solutions.

“Queensland is rapidly emerging as a global leader in climate action, and this positions Sprint to be at the forefront of sustainability investing, partnering with entrepreneurs, universities and ClimateTech accelerators such as EnergyLab,” she said,

Barkell said Queensland’s AI scene was also thriving, fuelled by government support, industry adoption, and a commitment to responsible development.

“This creates a fertile ground for innovation, particularly within Sprint’s investment focus areas,” she said.

“By backing cutting-edge AI startups, Sprint can act as a powerful catalyst, propelling Queensland’s position as a national leader in this critical field.”

Having gone all-in to bring PsiQuantum to Brisbane by splitting the $940 million investment bill with the federal government, Queensland treasurer and investment minister Cameron Dick couldn’t resist a State of Origin dig in today’s announcement as southern state VCs look to travel north. 

“Just as Queensland has the team to bring State of Origin glory home, our Queensland Venture Capital Development Fund now has nine major players in the venture capital game wearing maroon, bringing more capital and expertise into our state,” he said.

“Whether it’s local investors like Sprint or global funds like Brandon Capital, everyone knows there is nowhere better to start, grow and invest in a business than Queensland.   

“Even NSW agrees, which is why Tidal Ventures is looking beyond Sydney to the Sunshine State to back the next big thing in tech, as Jekara has done with a longstanding Queensland-based partner.  

Dick said the deals will give Queensland startups access to up to $200 million in new matched funding.

“It will continue to bridge the early-stage funding gap so businesses do not need to leave our state to pursue funding elsewhere – they can scale and become global players from Queensland,” he said.

Sydney-based Tidal Ventures sent senior investor Felicia Lal across the border to hunt for promising startups, having previously backed edtech unicon Go1, winner of Scaleup of The Year in the Startup Daily Best in Tech awards and Clipchamp, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2021. 

Tidal cofounder Grant McCarthy said the strategic investment will see them also build a third fund to back startups in sectors like cybersecurity, customer experience, and productivity & automation.

“We’ve experienced significant growth in a short period,” he said.

“Our scale and velocity have reached a point where we’re seeing active interest from institutional investors and are delighted to have attracted the attention and support of QIC.”

QIC Private Equity investment director Leo Channon said he was pleased to see the state backing a local VC too.

“Sprint is a home-grown Queensland firm that invests across a number of important thematics for Queensland innovation, including AI and automation, healthtech, aged care, climate and infrastructure tech,” he said.

“QVCDF is pleased to be supporting Sprint as a cornerstone investor in its third fund which will deploy much-needed capital in the pre-seed to Series A space with a focus on B2B SaaS.”

Sprint Ventures has a 18 portfolio startups, including Vapar, Avarni, Leakster, Umps Health and ausbiz.com.au, the business streaming channel.


  • Startup Daily’s parent company, Pinstripe Media, is also an investor in ausbiz.  

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