Forrest’s Tattarang Launches $250M HealthTech Venture Capital Firm

Australia has a brand new HealthTech and the BioTech venture capital firm called Tenmile and backed by $250 million in capital from the Tattarang investment group of Andrew and Nicola Forrest.

Based in Western Australia, Tattarang says Tenmile’s seed and expansion capital will be “persistent”. The VC will seek to support start-ups through the so-called “valley of death”, the period when no revenue is generated and companies are still bringing their products to market.

Currently, Tenmile has two investments in its portfolio. The first is Perth-based drug development company Emyria, which is currently developing medicinal cannabinoids and psychedelics. The second is Adelaide-based Carina Biotech, a preclinical immunotherapy company focusing on chimeric antigen receptor T cell therapies, a potential new treatment for solid cancers.

Tenmile Executive Chairman Dr. Steve Burnell and Carina Biotech Managing Director Dr. Deborah Rathjen

Tattarang chairman Andrew Forrest said the independent Tenmile would be able to act quickly because it has no obligations to other investors and loan providers.

“Our laser-centric approach means we can help start-up companies, researchers and entrepreneurs tap into seed funding to help them when they need it most, then provide follow-on support, which doesn’t is often not available through government or public sector funding,” Mr. Forrest said.

Tattarang co-chair Nicola Forrest said Tenmile will remain committed to Tattarang’s responsible investment framework, which includes supporting businesses founded and led by women.

Tenmile has also partnered with the San Francisco-based digital health incubator as a partner in its latest digital health fund. Tenmile’s executive chairman, Dr Steve Burnell, said the company will focus on opportunities across Australia as well as finding opportunities to provide access to international markets.

“While Tenmile is focused on opportunities in Australia and building the broader health science commercialization ecosystem here, we will continue to invest and partner with international markets both for returns and to helping our Australian companies access international markets and capital,” said Dr. Burnel.

Dr. Burnell is particularly excited about opportunities in immunology, oncology, digital health, microbiome and microbial resistance. He is also director of the Collaborate Against Cancer, Covid-19 and OceanOmics programs at Forrest’s Mindaroo Philanthropic Foundation.

Dr Burnell said many Australian companies are signing up for the ASX too soon. He said some investors create pressure for liquidity or a quick exit through initial product offerings “very early when there is still no clinical plan. And then they find themselves in this difficulty of continuing to raise capital ”.

Post-Covid, Dr Burnell said now was a good opportunity to “reclaim the brain, basically, to bring some of those Australians back into the country who have experience in bringing medical and biotech products to market…we have laid these foundations, but we really need to support the creation of sustainable businesses and sustainable business models”.

Dr. Burnell wants a team of around seven or eight people to manage the investments, not only with private equity or venture capital experience, but also with specific HealthTech and BioTech experience. The team size is currently half of that goal with a background of working in digital health, diagnostics, point-of-care devices and pharmaceuticals.

Dr Burnell said Australia has the opportunity to become a MedTech and BioTech superpower over the next decade with support. He believes the Australian capital environment has historically had insufficient HealthTech expertise to help local businesses grow.

“There is a certain level of expertise needed to give you the confidence to invest in companies and navigate them through what everyone calls the valley of death. In health technology, you need to understand technology, intellectual property, clinical and regulatory strategy. Then you have the clinical program, which will probably take another five years to see substantial results, certainly in terms of revenue,” Dr. Burnell said.

Significant added value, according to Dr. Burnell, includes connecting companies with domestic and international regulatory specialists or executives who can define clinical strategies for a startup.

“We’re seeing a lot of seed-stage companies that have awesome technology and on competition, around technologies that don’t really have the thinking yet to take them over the next three to five years to bring it to market” , said Dr. Burnell. .

In terms of federal government support, Dr. Burnell praised the research and development tax refund. He also suggested extending it to private investment and capital that funds research and development activities.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley by email.

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