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Tech incubator Powerhouse Ventures makes two new investments

Monday 31 October 2016 02:55 PM

Tech incubator Powerhouse Ventures makes two new investments; share price languishes

By Fiona Rotherham

Oct. 31 (BusinessDesk) - ASX-listed Powerhouse Ventures has committed to invest up to $450,000 in a new ed-tech software company spun out of Victoria University’s Faculty of Education in Wellington in conjunction with Macleans College Auckland, as its share price languishes 30 Australian cents below its market debut last month.

The deal comes as it’s also about to announce its first ever investment into a spin-out from the University of Auckland – Objective Acuity, that has developed a revolutionary eye technology.

The Christchurch-based technology incubator raised A$10.9 million in an initial public offering, short of the A$20 million it had been seeking, and its shares have steadily fallen from A$1.07 on its market debut on Oct. 12 to trade at 77 Australian cents today.

Powerhouse chief operating officer Colin Dawson said he had no comment on the share price drop, saying it was a public market.

Powerhouse’s investment in EdPotential was subject to certain milestones being met and is the fourth Victoria spin-out it has funded from the university. It signed a memorandum of understanding with the university’s commercialisation office, Viclink, in May that said they would work together on identifying and establishing new businesses derived from the university’s intellectual property and technologies.

The start-up aims to commercialise a cloud-based software-as-a-service product that enables schools to more easily access their assessment data and check on student programmes. They can analyse the strengths and gaps and then target solutions to improve student achievement.

The spin-off follows work done by co-educational school Macleans College across both NCEA and CIE assessment systems and the academic founders are Michael Johnston and Cedric Hall.

Dawson said ed-tech is a growing area and EdPotential could help improve student achievement and save teachers’ time.

Powerhouse’s first investment since listing was A$500,000 into Ferranova, a cancer diagnostic company system developed by Victoria University and the University of South Australia.

Dawson said it's also about to add Objective Acuity to its investment portfolio which comprises 22 early stage to mature businesses founded on university and research institute intellectual property.

The start-up has created a camera that reads involuntary eye movements which can help identify vision problems which can lead to learning difficulties in young children. It’s estimated one in five children have visual problems that remain undetected.

The technology was invented by Ben Thompson, an associate professor of optometry and vision science whose research has included the development of a promising new treatment for amblyopia (lazy eye) that is currently undergoing international clinical trials. Objective Acuity's other two co-founders are Jason Turuwhenua and Mehrdad Sangi from the Auckland Bioengineering Institute.

They created a visual system which detects a moving pattern and measures an involuntary eye reflex called Optokinetic Nystagmus, which allows a person’s eyes to follow moving objects while their head stays steady.

(BusinessDesk)

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