New Australian life sciences investment fund could have spin-off benefits to New Zealand
December 15, 2016
Some $A230 million has gone to Brandon Capital which manages the MRCF, a collaborative structure of over 50 organisations including six New Zealand research institutes.
Australia’s largest life science venture fund, the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund, just got bigger, with the Australian government’s launch of a $A500 million Biomedical Translation Fund aimed at making the country a global leader in commercialising biomedical discoveries.
The BTF pool of public and private capital will be managed by three venture capital fund managers with different pots of money. Some $A230 million has gone to Brandon Capital which manages the MRCF, a collaborative structure of over 50 organisations including six New Zealand research institutes.
The new fund, MRCF BTF, will only invest in Australian companies, although the manager argues there are still side benefits for its Kiwi members.
In April this year the New Zealand government paid $A500,000 to become a member of the MRCF, the same amount as Australian states, which paved the way for Kiwi research institutes to join and their medical discovery research to be considered for investment by its third $A200 million fund.
The six Kiwi members are the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre and the Institute for Innovation in Biotech at the University of Auckland, the Brain Health Research Centre at the University of Otago, the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research, the Ferrier Research Institute at Victoria University, and Callaghan Innovation.
New Zealand’s biotech sector, which is considerably smaller than Australia’s booming life sciences sector, is anecdotally seeing a small uplift in investment capital this year and is expecting more next year.
Brandon Capital managing director Chris Nave said the launch of the BTF Fund will benefit New Zealand’s biomedical sector because it deepens the pool of investment capital under management by the MRCF, which advantages all members.
MRCF now has a combined $A430 million of investment capital for promising biomedical research, giving it real scale, Duncan Mackintosh, Brandon Capital’s New Zealand investment manager, said.
“We are now competing at a global level and this will benefit our New Zealand investments by getting them greater attention internationally,” he said.
The spin-off from that, he said, is attracting offshore capital for New Zealand discoveries, attention from strategic partners, and attracting and retaining talent to run New Zealand companies.
Mr Macintosh has said the fund is considering a number of investment opportunities from New Zealand researchers and expects to make its first investment early next year. The MRCF BTF is also to begin making its first investment in early 2017.
National Business Review
15 December, 2016