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Booster to fund university ideas factory

[UPDATED] Wellington-based fund manager Booster is teaming up with Victoria University's commercial development arm, VicLink, to help bring new ideas to market.  

Monday, August 27th 2018, 6:00AM

Booster will be providing at least $2 million a year to the New Zealand Innovation Booster partnership for the next five years.

The NZ Innovation Booster will provide a consistent stream of funding to commercialise current and established world-leading intellectual property developed by researchers from faculties across the University.

Viclink has equity in nearly 20 start-ups based on Victoria University of Wellington research, including Avalia Immunotherapies, scientific instruments company Magritek and medical diagnostics company Ferranova. It aims to increase that portfolio to 50 over the next decade.

The funding is coming from Booster itself rather than being part of any of its managed funds at this stage. Booster has started using private equity investments in its portfolios, but this new venture is not part of those operations.

A spokesman for Booster said the intent is that both Booster and its funds will invest in the NZ Innovation Booster.  "This gives our investors the opportunity of exposure to an asset class that they would otherwise be unable to access.  Of course that exposure will be small and applied in a measured way through existing asset allocation processes but we think investors will find it a meaningful addition to their portfolios."

She said if private investors had an appetite for getting involved in the partnership then it would help them invest.

Booster managing director Allan Yeo says the unique arrangement reflects Booster’s commitment to New Zealand by helping innovative ideas become productive businesses.

“Commercialisation of research has long been seen as an opportunity to enhance the contribution of our universities to New Zealand. Historically this financing has relied on angel funding or venture capital, which means opportunities to date have not only been hard to come by but future commercialisation and growth benefits leave New Zealand,”Yeo says.

“We are excited to be an integral part in growing these innovative Kiwi ideas for the future benefit of New Zealand.”

Viclink's website says its role is "to add value to the University by helping researchers transform their discoveries into products or services that have real benefit to society. Viclink can help test, protect and develop an idea, optimising its chances of success, before launching it into the world where it can do the most good."

"Viclink translates Victoria's research and knowledge into sustainable economic growth for the region.  We work closely with university researchers to support them in commercialising their inventions, and maximising the impact from their research.  We assist with securing funding and investment, and developing the partnerships with industry necessary to take these ideas forward."

When the time is right to sell equity in a start-up, Viclink’s financial return is divided equally between the researchers whose work the start-up draws on, their School within the University and Viclink itself. Viclink’s third is then reinvested in further start-ups.

Tags: Booster Private equity

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