MRCF establishes life science incubator to boost NZ startup successes
December 16, 2019
Brandon Capital, the manager of New Zealand and Australia’s largest life science investment fund, the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF), has been appointed by Callaghan Innovation as an official partner for its new Technology Incubator programme. Brandon will establish a life science incubator focused on super-charging promising New Zealand life science start-ups.
The new incubators are a major plank in the government’s approach to creating and supporting young companies through the early ‘valley of death’ funding gap between initial grant funding, through to translation and commercial success. Under the agreement, Brandon Capital, New Zealand and Australia’s largest venture capital firm, will establish and run a life science focused incubator for at least the next eight years.
Through the life science incubator, promising start-ups will be provided with access to a repayable loan scheme provided by Callahan Innovation, which is matched with investment funding from the MRCF. A unique aspect of the Brandon-managed incubator, is that those start-ups which successfully graduate from early incubation, will have access to follow on capital from the MRCF’s deep pools of investment funding which has a collective value of over $700m dollars spread across five funds.
“The Brandon life science incubator will, for the first time, provide NZ start-ups with access to a significant funding pathway, enabling Kiwi entrepreneurs to focus on developing their innovations,” says Duncan Mackintosh, Brandon Capital’s Head of New Zealand Investments.
“We applaud the New Zealand government and Callaghan Innovation on its rejuvenated approach to supporting early-stage investment and we are delighted to have been appointed to run a life science incubator,” says Dr Chris Nave, CEO of the MRCF. “New Zealand ranks in the top handful of countries for world-leading biotech discoveries but so often, due to inadequate funding and access to expertise, these discoveries aren’t commercialised meaning we miss out on the major healthcare benefits these technologies provide.”
“For over a decade the MRCF has supported early-stage biotech firms through the critical ‘valley of death’ period and this appointment will bolster our ability to support more discoveries to achieve commercial success, ultimately creating jobs and income for New Zealand. We very much look forward to collaborating with the other incubators to create even more Kiwi success stories,” says Dr Nave.
To support the management of the incubator, Brandon Capital will expand its team in New Zealand.
“The new suite of tech incubators will help plug the missing piece in New Zealand’s translation story,” says Mackintosh. “Our recent experience has shown that while the quality of research is high, with a significant number of promising discoveries, they are often at a stage that is too early for traditional venture capital investment. Our life science incubator, and support from Callaghan Innovation, will help bridge this gap.”
The Brandon Capital managed life science incubator will be live from April 2020. In addition to being able to access the Callaghan repayable loan scheme, successful candidates will have access to specialist commercialisation expertise, management advice and access to international venture partners via the MRCF network. Founders will also spend time being mentored at the MRCF’s Melbourne office which is in the heart of the Melbourne Biotech Precinct.
The MRCF is a unique collaboration between the New Zealand government, Australian Federal and State governments, major Australian superannuation funds and over 50 leading medical research institutes and research hospitals across New Zealand and Australia. The MRCF supports the development and commercialisation of very early-stage biomedical discoveries originating from these member research organisations, providing both capital and expertise to guide the successful development of new therapies.
“New Zealand is a country of innovators and Brandon Capital, through the MRCF, has a long track record of successfully guiding entrepreneurs from concept through to commercial success,” says MRCF Board member and former Fisher & Paykel Healthcare CEO, Michael Daniell. “The Brandon life science incubator provides the opportunity to boost the pipeline with the next generation of New Zealand life science innovations by providing them with access to the expertise and capital needed to succeed.”
“Brandon Capital is highly connected internationally with experts, investors and acquirers. What is most exciting is that the incubator will open up all of this expertise and capital to New Zealand start-ups.”