The IIFF fund managers report six monthly to Innovation Australia on their operations, including the current valuation of investments. Some funds reported valuations of investments at levels lower than initial cost. No divestments were made during the year.
Through the IIFF, successful venture capital fund managers will be able to provide follow-on investments to early stage companies that have already received investment capital under the eligible programs.
SUPPORT TO CUSTOMERS
The IIFF program was open to fund managers supported under the Australian Government’s eligible venture capital programs: IIF Rounds 1 and 2, PSF, REEF and ICTIP. Eligible investments were restricted to investee companies already supported by these programs.
The Minister appointed a Program Delegate for the IIFF who is responsible for obtaining advice and recommendations from the special purpose IIFF Committee on the technical merit of applications and then made recommendations to the Minister. The IIFF Committee has now been revoked. The Program Delegate is responsible for entering into funding agreements on behalf of the Australian Government with successful applicants and authorising payments. Innovation Australia oversees the ongoing operation of the IIFF fund managers through its Venture Capital Committee (VCC).
The role of Innovation Australia is to advise the Program Delegate and the Minister on non financial administration matters relating to IIFF, including the extent to which the IIFF program is meeting its objectives.
Compliance audits of IIFF fund managers commenced in February 2010 and are ongoing. Three IIFF fund managers were audited during the year and no issues of concern were reported.
The role of the VCC and former IIFF Committee is outlined in Section 3 – Corporate Governance.
Innovation Investment Follow-on Fund
Melbourne start-up company Ofidium Pty Ltd is commercialising a revolutionary new optical fibre technology, with the help of Australian Government venture capital programs.
“We’ve taken a technology that’s been in use for a number of years in wireless, and we’re applying it for the first time to optical fibre communications, to deliver more bandwidth at less cost,” said Ofidium’s chief executive officer Mr Jonathan Lacey.
“The funding from AusIndustry has played a critical role in helping us commercialise our technology, and turn it into a viable product.”
Ofidium has received support under three of AusIndustry’s venture capital programs, the Pre Seed Fund (PSF), the Venture Capital Limited Partnerships (VCLP) and the Innovation Investment Follow-on Fund (IIFF).
The Australian Government’s venture capital programs are delivered by AusIndustry and can provide venture capital (PSF, IIFF) and a tax-effective structure (VCLP) to fund managers. The fund managers are responsible for the commercial decision on which companies and projects to invest in and also provide their expertise in managing and growing these early-stage companies.
Ofidium’s fund manager for all three programs is Starfish Ventures Pty Ltd. Starfish Ventures invests in three specialist areas – IT, biotechnology and cleantech.
“In Ofidium, we saw really strong, innovative Australian technology with global potential,’’ Dr Michael Panaccio, an investment partner at Starfish Ventures, said. “They’re leaders in their field of expertise, and we received good validation from third parties.
“Optical networks have implications worldwide as bandwidth requirements grow higher,” Dr Panaccio said.
The Venture Capital programs are designed to assist in commercialising Australian research and development efforts. Starfish Ventures currently has more than $400 million in funds under management and more than 40 companies in its portfolio.
Starfish Ventures invests in innovative Australian businesses and currently has over $400 million funds under management and more than 40 companies in its portfolio.
Commercialisation Australia was announced as part of the 2009-10 Federal Budget and is a component of the Australian Government’s 10 year vision - Powering Ideas: An Innovation Agenda for the 21st Century. It will receive funding of $244 million over the five years to 2013-14, with ongoing funding of $82 million a year thereafter. Commercialisation Australia opened to applications on 4 January 2010.
Commercialisation Australia is delivered as a partnership between Innovation Division and AusIndustry, and is supported by a network of private sector consultant Case Managers. The program has an expert committee of independent members appointed by the Minister (Commercialisation Australia Board) and employs a Chief Executive Officer to provide a high level of guidance on the program’s implementation, drawing on past private sector commercialisation experience. The network of Case Managers services regional and metropolitan centres across Australia.
Commercialisation Australia aims to build the capacity of, and opportunities for, Australia’s talented researchers, entrepreneurs and innovative firms to convert intellectual property into commercial ventures, creating high skill jobs and increasing our global competitiveness. It seeks to achieve this by offering a range of tailored assistance measures.
The objectives of the program will be achieved through:
providing a range of assistance including initial advisory services, access to experienced business mentors, and funding for proof-of-concept and early stage commercialisation activities assessed against clear selection criteria
providing a single coordinated commercialisation support service with multiple entry and exit points, and referrals to other sources of support as appropriate
using stringent initial assessment processes to select applicants with high potential for growth and commercial success, while acknowledging the risk inherent in the pathway to commercialisation
tailoring support to the timing and needs of individual applicants, taking account of their stage of development
ensuring efficient delivery by building on current innovation activities and working with existing service providers
leveraging private capital to maximise the effectiveness of Commercialisation Australia support
sharing the risks by adopting a mutual obligation approach where appropriate
rigorously monitoring the progress of each participant and, if necessary, redirect funding from underperforming participants
regularly collecting data and analysing trends to measure the short and long term impact of the Commercialisation Australia program and to inform future initiatives to support innovation and commercialisation
enhancing access to business services and domain expertise across the nation.
Table 2.8 Australian Government budget and expenditure at 30 June 2010