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Trans-Tasman support to commercialise research

16 June 2008

Trans-Tasman support to commercialise research

New firms based on innovative research at The University of Auckland will get a kick start from a new AUD$30 million fund - the first trans-Tasman commercialisation fund , announced Economic Development Minister Pete Hodgson today.

Speaking at the New Zealand launch of the fund, Pete Hodgson said, “The fund will help The University of Auckland, to bridge what it calls ‘the valley of death’ between intellectual property discovery and its ability to attract investors. The initiative and drive that’s demonstrated here in the development of this fund is an example of innovation and lateral thinking. It bodes well for what the fund itself may produce and this is what sits behind a high wage- high skill economy.”

The Trans-Tasman Commercialisation Fund (TTCF) is a collaborative venture backed by Australian superannuation fund Westscheme, to support the early stage commercialisation of intellectual property from five universities. It will support The University of Auckland commercialise its valuable research-derived intellectual property (IP).

The Fund will develop research to the point where it is attractive for commercial investors. There are provisions in the Fund to allow for co-investment from local ‘angel’ investors.

To support the fund for five years, the State governments of Victoria and South Australia will each contribute $A250,000 pa and the New Zealand government will contribute $NZ 200,000 pa.

The University of Auckland is a partner in the fund in conjunction with Monash University, the University of Adelaide, Flinders University and the University of South Australia.

“This model has already been successfully used to create five university/private sector investment funds in Australia,” Pete Hodgson said.

“The TTCF will be the first fund to operate across the Tasman. The evidence available to date would appear to indicate that the model works well,” he said.

The Fund and UniServices will ensure that at least 25 percent of the Fund’s investments are made in New Zealand. They have also agreed that NZ-based angel and seed investors are offered the same level of equity in the spin out companies as that taken by the Fund itself.

Editor’s notes

Auckland UniServices Ltd commercialises research from The University of Auckland. UniServices is a wholly owned subsidiary of the University and the largest commercialisation company of its kind in Australasia. UniServices works with academic staff to identify and protect discoveries with commercial potential, find business partners and negotiate license agreements. It protects the University's intellectual portfolio and has an extensive portfolio of new technologies available for commercial licensing.

University of Auckland
The University of Auckland hosts 4 Centres of Research Excellence and 5 Partnerships for Excellence. The University also supports the work of 12 research units, 37 research centres and nine research institutes, enabling cross-disciplinary, cross-faculty research initiatives.

Monash University
Monash, based in Melbourne, Australia, is a leading university, fostering excellence in research and research training, education and leadership. The University undertakes innovative, multidisciplinary research focusing on six priorities – sustainability, peace and security, economic development, innovation, health and disease, and community cohesion.

The University has a strong reputation for training and developing future research leaders for public and private sectors. Monash University's profile is further strengthened by the recruitment of eminent researchers and their teams through the Australian Research Council Federation Fellowship scheme.

University of Adelaide
Adelaide Research & Innovation Pty Ltd (ARI) is the commercial development company of the University of Adelaide in South Australia. ARI’s purpose is to aid the development, practical application and impact of the University’s research in the community. ARI is wholly owned by the University and all income is returned to the University.
ARI’s key activities include:
 Facilitating contract research and consulting work by the University for business, government and the broader community
 Transferring technology and other valuable intellectual property into real world impact (by licence, spin outs and other means as appropriate)
 Growing engagement between the University and its external partners through effective networks

University of South Australia
ITEK Pty Ltd is the commercialisation company of UniSA. It focuses on the implementation of an integrated framework for the management of IP, from the early stages of research through to commercialisation. This also enabled UniSA to offer its services to innovators outside the university. ITEK’s expertise includes start-up companies, and the commercialisation of new technologies and innovations. Its skills address the specific needs of enterprises in their critical early stages, providing improved chances of success and ensuring that no crucial business factors are overlooked.

Flinders University
Flinders Partners Pty Ltd, based in Adelaide, South Australia, provides the single point of contact for accessing the research expertise, capabilities and facilities at Flinders University.

Services offered by Flinders Partners relate to research partnering and the commercial application of Flinders University research. Its complete service package entails partnering, licensing, consulting, equity and business development, as well as workshops providing a practical guide to commercialisation.

Westscheme Australia
Westscheme is an industry superannuation fund based in Western Australia, with more than AUD$2.79 billion in funds under management on behalf of over 196,000 members and 23,400 employers (as at February 2008). Westscheme’s members come from all over Australia and belong to a vast array of industries such as hospitality, trade, construction, agriculture, retail and professional services.


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