Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) announced over the weekend a AU$200 million fund dedicated to commercializing academic research in new spinout companies.
“We have aligned all the pieces: from market roadmaps that guide our science to address the most critical needs; to the ON sci-tech accelerator to help Australia’s scientists apply their science for national benefit; and now we have the Innovation Fund to invest in those ideas and reap the rewards of their success,” said CSIRO CEO Dr. Larry Marshall.
Half of the money will be from private investors, $70 million from public funds and $30 million from CSIRO’s WLAN program.
CSIRO is at the center of the country’s technology scheme, Strategy 2020, that leans on a number of government initiatives to prop up the Australian startup scene through a collection of incubators, accelerators, public-matching schemes and supporting university spinouts.
The CSIRO group sponsors and is partnered with several programs, including the ON Accelerator. They sponsor scientific research institutes across Australia, including the Food Innovation Centre in Victoria, the eHealth Research Centre in Queensland, and the Australian Technology Park in New South Wales.
“It’s a virtuous cycle of investment in taking our best ideas from bench-top to beta to buyer,” Marshall added. “This clears the pathway for science and technology to navigate Australia’s future.”
The fund will be led by Bill Bartee, the co-founder at Blackbird Ventures. Blackbird is one of Australia’s most prolific venture capital firms.
“To ensure the best ideas have the greatest impact, we will back the most ambitious entrepreneurs who want to build important, enduring companies,” said Bartee, who will be joined by a management team in the first quarter of 2017. “The Innovation Fund provides a fantastic opportunity to help ideas coming from accelerators and elsewhere realize their potential in the commercial market.”