Bio Connections: Four ways Breakthrough Victoria is building a commercial platform for health & life science innovation

Breakthrough Victoria CEO Grant Dooley gave a keynote speech at the Bio Connections conference in Melbourne on 25 July 2022 that examined themes of translation, development and commercialisation. See highlights below.

There’s never been a more important time to support universities, research institutes and industry to rapidly respond to challenges as they emerge.

The fact is, for Australia to remain globally competitive we need to build our sovereign capability to provide what small companies need:

  • Access to capital.
  • A skilled and experienced workforce.
  • Quality infrastructure, including laboratory facilities.
  • A strong advanced manufacturing sector.
  • Pathways to markets.
  • And advisors who have done it before.

We do well on the research side, less well on the translation and commercialisation side.

The 2021 Global Innovation Index ranked Australia 15th out of 132 economies for innovation institutions and research. But when it comes to translation and commercialisation we drop to 33.

The reasons for this discrepancy are complex, but they include:

  • A lack of early-stage capital.
  • Risk-averse investors.
  • Inadequate infrastructure to support development and manufacturing.
  • And room for better entrepreneurial capability among academics and researchers.

Put all these together and you get too many innovations falling into the valley of death between the laboratory and the market—or going offshore.

That’s where Breakthrough Victoria comes in.

Breakthrough Victoria is an independent company that manages the $2 billion Breakthrough Victoria Fund set up by the Victorian Government to make Victoria and Australia a global innovation leader.

As a multi-stage investor, we work across the spectrum from early stage development through to later stage funding rounds to support larger scale growth for companies.

We support small companies across the valley of death and help larger ones scale up as they look to expand into international markets.

We do this by:

  • Supporting a commercial culture among innovators and researchers;
  • Investing in early-stage innovations over the long term;
  • Building an investor and innovator ecosystem; and
  • Forging partnerships with industry and service providers

The kind of investment we’re looking for provides economic, social or environmental benefits to Victoria—it involves innovative new technologies to deliver those benefits—and it has a clear path to market and the potential to generate returns.

We can invest in a variety of ways, from direct investment into a company, to partnerships and collaborations or platforms to fund multiple innovations.

Most importantly, we want to make a difference. That’s what investing for impact means. And that means we need to be a patient investor. Transformation doesn’t happen overnight, which is why we take a long-term view of 10 years and beyond to give early innovations a real chance to develop their commercial potential.

We’re already investing.

Breakthrough Victoria – University Innovation Platform - Last month we unveiled our $100 million Breakthrough Victoria – University Innovation Platform . This Platform matches investments by Victoria’s top universities to create pre-seed investment funds. The idea is to take the world-class ideas and research coming out of Victorian universities and help them grow into commercially viable businesses.

The University of Melbourne Genesis Pre-seed Fund - We already have our first fund—the $15 million The University of Melbourne Genesis Pre-seed Fund . This will help new companies affiliated with the university secure their intellectual property, develop prototypes, test products with consumers and fine-tune business plans. We’re working with other Victorian universities to set up similar funds tailored to their individual needs.

Seer Medical – Seer Medical has developed a home-based wearable technology that enables diagnosis and long-term monitoring for epilepsy management. They’re also working on a non-invasive seizure risk forecaster, called SEER Home, to predict when a seizure may happen. When you think of the 65 million people who live with epilepsy worldwide.

You can see what we mean by investing for impact. Seer’s presence in Melbourne, for example, is expected to create up to 225 jobs across R&D, manufacturing and production.

Our funding will enable Seer to expand its business locally and internationally and become a global leader in epilepsy home monitoring and management.

It’s an exciting time for us at Breakthrough Victoria and more importantly it’s an exciting time to be an innovator in Victoria.

Read the full speech here.