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Australia's largest start-up venture capital fund has launched with $200 million to invest locally

Blackbird ventures joint managing directors, Niki Scevak, Bill Bartee, Rick Baker. supplied

Australia’s largest start-up venture capital fund has gathered $200 million to invest in local businesses only.

The Blackbird Ventures managed fund is backed by First State Super, which has tipped in $110 million, Hostplus Super and 96 local tech entrepreneurs including Mike Cannon-­Brookes and Scott Farquhar of Atlassian, Leigh Jasper and Rob Philpot of Aconex, BevanClark of Retailmenot and Simon Clausen of PCTools.

The fund is bigger than AirTree Ventures which has $60 million.

“We want to help keep the good companies here; sometimes they have to move but we don’t want limited access to capital to be the reason any more,” Blackbird Ventures managing partner Niki Scevak told the Financial Review.

Blackbird will continue to invest in about ten startups per year but the new funds will allow it to keep supporting a company over a longer period of its life.

Many local start-ups head overseas when they get the the stage of needing investments of about $5 million. This new fund will target those growing businesses.

“The world’s best businesses are software companies and they are being built by mission-driven founders over a period of decades,” says Scevak in a statement.

“We’re excited to grow alongside them and to be a true partner over the life of their journey.”

Blackbird only invests in technology founders who are trying to be the best in the world from day one rather than just the best in Australia.

The firm is solely focused on Australians, either based locally or in Silicon Valley. It will support these founders from the idea stage through its Startmate accelerator, to seed and series A investments and later stage expansion capital through its venture capital funds.

First State Super Chief Investment Officer Richard Brandweiner said: “We are pleased to be the lead investor in a Blackbird’s latest capital raising initiative that will see $200M injected into the local tech market. Blackbird is fostering the development of a critical sector, and it is important to us to help keep ideas and talent in Australia while seeking to deliver strong returns for our members.”

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