VCs to run new $107m pre-seed plan

By Pete Young
Friday, 10 May, 2002

Large venture capital entities have snared all four of the licences to manage the Federal government's new $107 million plan to fill the pre-seed funding gap facing promising technologies.

Starfish Ventures, Rothschild Genesis, Allen and Buckeridge and SciVentures will bring an extra $34 million in private investment funds into the Pre-Seed Fund program which is underpinned by nearly $73 million in taxpayer money.

The fund is designed to assist the early commercialisation stage of promising R&D at universities and public-sector research agencies.

Of the new fund managers, only Rothschild Genesis will focus exclusively on life sciences. Starfish Ventures and SciVentures will direct investments across a broad range of technologies while Allen and Buckeridge will concentrate on the information technology and communications space.

The funds will invest up to $1 million in each selected project or company and are expected to be operational by the first quarter in 2002-03.

Rothschild expects fine-tuning of documentation to close the fund will take "a couple of months" with the first investments being made a few months after that.

"We've already hit the ground by hiring a new team of three people and we are talking with a number of universities in a structured way to review applicable technologies," said Rothschild Bioscience managing director Dr Geoff Brooke.

Associate director Brigitte Smith said the 10-year fund's anticipated investment period will be five years, meaning its total capital will be invested in the first five years.

Rothschild Bioscience is establishing the Rothschild Genesis Fund with a total capital between $28.75 million and $30 million, of which the government contribution will be $21.25 million.

The Starfish Ventures Pre-Seed Fund, whose team includes Sir Gustav Nossal, will have total capital of $24 million including $17 million from the Commonwealth.

The SciVentures Pre-Seed Fund total capital will be $33 million (Commonwealth $20.3 million) while the Allen & Buckeridge Pre-Seed Fund will have total capital of $20 million, of which the Commonwealth is expected to provide $14.15 million.

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