The Australian National University (ANU) and Hindmarsh have launched Significant Capital Ventures, a new venture capital investment vehicle to drive innovation in Canberra and build investment links between business and research.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr MLA officially launched Significant Capital Ventures, which is a conditionally registered early stage venture capital limited partnership.
The ACT Government kick started the enterprise with $50,000 to support establishment costs. The Canberra Innovation Development Fund also contributed $50,000 to support capital raising.
The new fund is expected to have a size of between $10 million and $30 million and will invest in early stage innovative startups in order to help them become sustainable businesses and industries of the future.
In addition to ANU and Hindmarsh, Significant Capital Ventures is supported by the University of Canberra in raising capital for the fund.
ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt AC said the Significant Capital Ventures Fund would help deliver on the ACT Government and Federal Government priorities to expand innovation and develop new industries to support jobs and economic growth.
“The ANU takes pride in being at the centre of Australia’s innovation economy,” Professor Schmidt said.
“The ANU, along with Hindmarsh, has been a leader of venture capital activity in the region for over a decade. Together we have proven that Canberra can produce world-class technology from a base of fundamental research.
“With the support of many of the programs on offer from the ACT Government, we see Canberra as an ideal place to create an idea, test it, grow it, and turn it into something special that will impress the world.”
Hindmarsh Executive Chair John Hindmarsh said his company was delighted to partner with ANU in Significant Capital Ventures.
“Significant Capital Ventures brings together two entities with a strong record in driving and investing in innovation,” Mr Hindmarsh said.
“The fund will help encourage the industries of the future, which will provide jobs, investment and economic growth in the Canberra region.”
ANU Pro-Vice Chancellor of Innovation, Professor Michael Cardew-Hall, said the new fund would strengthen the links between research, the university sector and industry.
“The Significant Capital Ventures Fund will help turn great new ideas into reality, and help innovation and research turn into established businesses with real and practical benefits for the Canberra and Australia,” Professor Cardew-Hall said.
ANU and Hindmarsh have a proven track record in investing and supporting startups. ANU helped start up ANU Connect Ventures in 2005 and Hindmarsh helped establish its associated entity Australian Capital Ventures Limited (ACVL) in 2000 to manage three funds, including the Canberra Business Development Fund with the ACT government.
Through those entities, the partners have so far helped more than 30 startup businesses, including companies now listed on the ASX and the London Stock Exchange AIM, such as Seeing Machines Limited.
Among the success stories is the former ANU startup Lithicon, which provides core analysis services to the oil and gas industry, which was sold in 2014 to US company FEI for $76 million.
Lithicon co-founder Dr Victor Pantano said the seed funding received through ANU Connect Ventures and ACVL was crucial to Lithicon’s success as a company.
“We wouldn’t have been able to start or grow the company without it, it was key,” Dr Pantano said.
“Without the support of ANU Connect Ventures and ACVL, there would have been no company.
“We grew extremely rapidly to employ around 50 people, we were in the BRW Top
100 Fastest Growing Companies list within three years.”