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Three NZ research outfits join MRCF

NZN 25/07/2016 Fiona Rotherham

Three New Zealand research organisations have signed up to become members of the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund, Australia's largest life science venture fund.

Otago University, the Malaghan Institute, and Callaghan Innovation are joining the fund's collaborative structure which includes more than 50 Australian medical research institutes and research hospitals, the Australian federal government and five state governments.

The $A200 million ($NZ213m) fund managed by Australian venture capital firm Brandon Capital includes backing from four of Australia's largest industry superannuation funds - AustralianSuper, HESTA, Statewide Super, and Hostplus.

Since 2007, the firm has already fully invested two other smaller funds and supported the development of 27 start-ups developing biotech or medical device technologies.

In February the New Zealand government paid $A500,000 to become a member, the same amount as Australian states. That paved the way for other New Zealand members to join.

Brandon Capital's new New Zealand investment manager Duncan Mackintosh says previous life science funds didn't allow for investment outside Australia whereas this one has added New Zealand in like "another state".

"The MRCF funding helps promising technologies bridge the current market failure, the so-called 'Valley of Death', enabling them to progress beyond grant funding to a point where they have achieved clinical or prototype proof of concept and/or market validation."

Brandon managing director Chris Nave says New Zealand ranks highly in terms of its medical innovations internationally and the latest fund had the capacity to support the best research opportunities from across Australasia.

The fund has first right to invest in discoveries from its hospital and university research partners. In exchange, the partners get a small share of any profits from successful commercialisations which incentivises them to help competitors succeed.

* BusinessDesk receives some assistance from Callaghan to cover the commercialisation of innovation

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