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$500m life sciences fund set to launch

AAP logoAAP 13/12/2016 Trevor Chappell

Australia's $500 million fund to support the life sciences sector, the Biomedical Translation Fund, is set to launch after the federal government selected three venture capital fund managers to invest the money.

The BTF was set up by the federal government in December 2015 as part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda and aims to commercialise Australia's medical research..

The BTF comprises $250 million from the government and $250 million from the private sector for investments in medical research projects in the advanced pre-clinical, Phase I and Phase II stages.

The federal minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Greg Hunt, said on Monday that Brandon Capital Partners, OneVentures Management and BioScience Managers will manage the BTF money.

Brandon Capital will manage $230 million, OneVentures $170 million, and BioScience managers $100 million.

"The BTF will stimulate both the health and medical research sector and the broader economy - creating more jobs and better health outcomes," Mr Hunt said on Tuesday.

Brandon Capital will invest its $230 million through Australia's largest life sciences fund, the new MRCF BTF fund.

The private investors in the MRCF BTF fund include Australia's biggest biotechnology firm CSL and superannuation funds AustralianSuper, Hesta, Statewide and HostPlus.

"On all measures, Australia has one of the world's leading biomedical research industries, but unfortunately, too often, we see promising discoveries leave our shores early in development, with little value returned to the country," Brandon Capital managing director Dr Chris Nave said.

"The size of the MRCF BTF provides the opportunity for these technologies to be developed to much later stages in Australia, and in some cases through to the market."

The MRCF BTF fund will invest in maturing technologies that have progressed to clinical studies and is expected to make its first investments in early 2017.

The MRCF BTF fund is the fourth MRCF life sciences fund to be managed by Brandon Capital.

The MRCF, which stands for Medical Research Commercialisation Fund, was set up in 2007.

The MRCF is a collaboration between major Australian superannuation funds and more than 50 medical research institutes and research hospitals in Australia and New Zealand.

BioScience Managers managing director Jeremy Curnock Cook said the money from the BTF was not a handout.

"The federal government is rightly expecting to achieve a good financial return on its investment on behalf of taxpayers, and the three fund managers appointed will certainly be seeking just that for the money they are investing on behalf of their investors,'' Mr Curnock Cook said.

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