Four universities and CSIRO have launched a new $20 million VC fund

Sydney University campus on April 6, 2016 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Universities of Melbourne, New South Wales, Sydney and Queensland have teamed up with the CSIRO to establish a new “follow on” fund of $20 million.

The five parties form Uniseed, a venture capital organisation that had already started a $50 million “commercialisation” fund last year. The latest $20 million pot will be focussed on “lower risk, later-stage investment rounds” to be put into startups Uniseed has already seeded.

“Currently, Uniseed takes early stage risk to facilitate commercialisation of member organisation intellectual property,” said Uniseed chief executive Dr Peter Devine said.

“Our new follow-on fund will allow Uniseed to participate more fully in later-stage investment rounds and take our investee companies further along their path to commercialisation.”

The organisation stated that a later-stage fund would have “the potential for better returns” and improve the “investment to fee ratio” for its investors. It would also lengthen Uniseed’s involvement with startups for a more longer term commitment.

The five research bodies that form Uniseed provided the new $20 million in its entirety.

Uniseed’s objective is to help commercialise technology that comes out of the research labs of its five parent institutions, which the organisation calls its “research partners”. The VC has so far taken four startups to the exit stage: IT security startup Vintela’s sale to Quest Software for $US75 million; semiconductor tech firm Fultec’s sale to Bourns Semiconductor for an undisclosed amount; a $US200 million sale of Spinifix Pharmaceuticals to drug giant Novartis; and a $US75 million sale of Fibrotech Therapeutics to Shire. One other company, Hatchtech, was sold to Dr Reddy’s Laboratories in an asset sale worth $US200 million.

“It is very pleasing to see continued support of the Uniseed model from our research partners with their additional funding commitment, while also continuing to invest in the strong IP pipeline they generate,” said Devine.