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Victorian government invests $100M in university startups

Government-owned breakthrough Victoria is giving $100 million in pre-seed funding to state university startups looking to commercialize research.

Prime Minister Dan Andrews and Treasurer Tim Pallas established the $2 billion Breakthrough Victoria Fund, chaired by former Prime Minister John Bracks, as an independent investment fund manager investing in commercial innovations in the health, technology, manufacturing, agri-food and and carbon sectors.

The $100 Million Breakthrough Victoria – University Innovation Platformwill see universities match government pre-seed investments as part of a five-year initiative involving RMIT, Swinburne, Monash, Melbourne, Victoria, La Trobe, Deakin, Federation and the Australian Catholic University.

Last week, the fund made its first $7.5 million investment to support the $15 million University of Melbourne Genesis Pre-Seed Fund in a 50-50 deal.

Andrews said the $100 million initiative will take the world-class ideas and research from Victorian universities and help new companies secure their intellectual property, develop prototypes, conduct trials and refine business plans.

Investments in individual startups will range from $200,000 to $1 million.

“Breakthrough Victoria supports great ideas that will save lives, change the way we live and provide jobs for generations to follow‘ said Andrew.

This is about support promising ideas in a crucial phase so we can keep our best and brightest innovators here on our own soil – something that is good for jobs and good for Victorians.”

The universities involved can help shape their fund and, on the basis of commercial agreements with the government, share any commercial windfall benefits from the investments with the taxpayer upon retirement.

Breakthrough Victoria will also provide expert investment advice to university innovators.

At RMIT, researchers have developed an ingestible, pill-like device that measures gas concentrations in the guts of humans and animals to diagnose conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, which is being commercialized by Atmo Biosciences.

Atmo recently raised $9.6 million to conduct critical clinical studies and accelerate product development.

Victoria’s startup sector has created more than 60,000 jobs since 2017.

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