Andrew Forrest’s Tattarang launches Tenmile, a $250 million venture capital fund for medtech start-ups

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WA billionaires Andrew and Nicola Forrest are backing a new Perth-based $250m venture capital fund targeting medtech start-ups.

Tenmile has former Roche Group executive Steve Burnell at its helm and aims to increase the number of companies that achieve scale – a constant battle for Australian healthcare start-ups with a lack of investors who understand deeply that success in the industry is often a long burn.

Funded through their Tattarang investment vehicle, the Forrests want Tenmile to invest in solutions to address unmet medical needs.

Dr Burnell said there was government funding for startups in the incubation stage, but “beyond that it’s a bit of a cliff they will fall” because so few know how to develop ideas into a model. business or product.

“That’s where we really think we can play a role,” he told The West Australian.

“Between that kind of ideation stage and the incubation stage and (turning) into the CSL of the world is this kind of valley of death where most of them die – they can’t lift from capital, they can’t walk through all the steps you need to take.

“There’s this long period of fairly high-risk investing, it’s not cheap. Venture capital here has traditionally not really understood this.

Dr Burnell said many Australian health-tech companies had been pushed too quickly to public listing, hurting their ability to raise capital.

Among the fund’s portfolio of investments are Perth-based drug development company Emyria – of which Tattarang secured a $5 million stake last November – and Adelaide-based immunotherapy company Carina Biotech.

Dr Burnell would not be attracted to any other signings, but said more additions to the portfolio were imminent.

“We are West Australians at heart, and so yes you can rest assured we have our finger on the pulse of things happening in WA, including several things right now in our pipeline – but we are going very well look across Australia for those direct investments,” he said.

He said the main difference between Tenmile and what he called “consumer health funds” was its use of health care experts and planned to add more in Perth and Sydney.

Companies unable to articulate future markets often failed to convince investors – who in turn were often not healthcare experts.

“(The) founders of Canva are now getting ready to do something in the health field and good luck to them, but that’s a very, very different field,” Dr. Burnell said.

“You basically invest in companies based on their intellectual property, their preclinical data, their regulatory strategy and their clinical development plan – those are different things from the valuation of a tech startup on the number of customers it has. she accumulates on her website.”

While not solely focused on WA investments, Dr. Burnell acknowledged the fund would give a boost to the state’s emerging medtech sector.

“The core of what we’re trying to build here is the whole industry,” he said. “There are a few companies, it’s starting to get there but WA doesn’t have its CSL yet… we already have collaborations and are working with the medical sector here. We will seek to extend this.

Ms Forrest said gender would be a key investment lens, with businesses led by women.

“Tenmile is another demonstration of our focus on using capital as a force for good and will apply Tattarang’s responsible investment framework, including support for women-founded and -led health enterprises,” said- she declared.

Mr. Forrest said Tenmile would be able to act quickly and confidently without obligations to investors.

“We can help start-up companies, researchers and entrepreneurs tap into seed funding to help them when they need it most, and then provide follow-on support, which is often not available through the funds. government or public sector,” he said.

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